Jean’s Gospel: Happy Thanksgiving!
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
Thanksgiving is a holiday appointed for counting our blessings. On this November 23, in America, we are invited to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings of the year, which include:
The natural beauty of our nation;
Family and friends;
Peace within our boarders;
Freedom, including religious freedom;
Dedicated individuals who serve to defend our freedoms at home and abroad;
Opportunities for education and to pursue individual aspirations;
Generous citizens and residents;
Shelter, food, personal property and modern conveniences;
Faithful elected officials and civil servants; and
A Constitution and representative democracy, which have served our nation well over the course of her history.
These blessings are what the Lord’s brother called the good gifts from our heavenly Father. These gifts are not bestowed evenly throughout our nation, but on balance may we all agree that God in his providence has been very gracious to America over the course of her short history. These are indeed good gifts and worthy of our thanksgiving. However, as good as they are, these gifts are only transitory in nature.
Therefore, James also wrote of the “perfect gift” that is from above. This is our gift from the Father of His only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin the world!” (John 1:29) It is the Father’s will that we all behold His Son, as Jesus himself said: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Jesus was crucified, died and was buried for us, and He conquered the grave, sin, death, the devil and hell also for us. Thus our adoption as children of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life, all perfect gifts from the Father, come to us in and through faith in Jesus alone. These perfect gifts are not bestowed unevenly, but evenly for everyone who believes in Jesus.
Where do we look for the Son? He is not far at all. Jesus said “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20) We have Jesus with us in His living Word and Gospel which “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16). When we listen to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit reveals to us the voice of our Good Shepherd. Moreover, Jesus is present with us in the Lord’s Supper, as it is written:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:23-26)
Therefore, we have immeasurable blessings to be thankful for this year. Let us give thanks to the Lord for every good gift with which He has blessed us this year. And let us especially give thanks to the Lord for every perfect gift which we have in Jesus, our God and Savior. Amen.
“Christ is our cornerstone,
On him alone we build;
With his true saints alone The courts of heaven are filled.
On his great love
Our hopes we place Of present grace And joys above.
Here may we gain from heaven
The grace which we implore,
And may that grace, once given, Be with us evermore
Until that day
When all the blest To endless rest Are called away.
Oh, then, with hymns of praise
These hallowed courts shall ring;
Our voices we will raise The Three in One to sing
And thus proclaim
In joyful song, Both loud and long, That glorious name.” Amen.
Christ is Our Cornerstone, Text: Latin, c. 8th cent.; tr. John Chandler, 1806-76, alt.