MAY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST ALWAYS BE WITH US
By Pastor Paulus Budiono
Johor, Sunday, January 20, 2019
How does the food taste the first time you spoon it? How does it taste when you finish up your meal? Or, is there any difference in taste between the first and the last sips of your drink from the bottle or glass? Have you ever noticed any difference? Did the food and drink first taste nice and refreshing, but halfway through the meal, you got fed up and did not finish off your meal? Or just the other way around? At first, the food or drink tasted strange. But the longer you ate or drank it, the better it tasted.
How do you respond to the last slice of ‘the bread’ served in Ephesians 6:24, saying, "Grace be with all of those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love."
In the pattern of the Tabernacle, the Letter to the Ephesians refers to the Table of Showbread. Please note that the bread was only eaten by the priests and their families primarily on the Sabbath (Leviticus 24: 5-9). And Jesus said, "I am the living bread" (John 6: 35,48).
Ephesians 6:24 is the last ‘spoonful’ of the food intake. After all, do you still remember the first spoonful, namely, Ephesians 1: 1? How do we deal with 'the special bread' of God's Word? Do we really enjoy it from beginning to end? Or, we have to finish it because we cannot say no?
There is only one kind and flavor of showbread in the Holy Place. There are no other kinds or flavors whatsoever. When David and his followers were starving, he met the Priest Ahimelech, asking for food. Ahimelech did not have any ordinary bread except for the holy bread on the Table of Showbread and gave it to him on condition that David and his men had to keep themselves from women (1 Samuel 21: 1-4). In short, David was allowed to eat the holy bread which was supposedly reserved for the priests.
Our daily food consists of various kinds of ingredients and flavors, depending on our tastes. Unlike our day-to-day menu, the Bread of Life has only one choice and one flavor.
Does the last slice of "bread" offered by the Letter to the Ephesians ("Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.") still attract and excite us? Who was involved here?
• The Apostle Paul, the author of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
• Tychicus who was told to take this letter to the Ephesians.
• The name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It turned out that the Israelites had been reprimanded for spending their money on something that was not bread and their wages on something that was not filling. To eat fine food and enjoy the most delicious dishes, they were asked to listen to God (Isaiah 55: 2-3). In other words, their hearts did not want the Lord (the Living Bread) but something else instead.
Introspection: Do we enjoy the Word of God (the bread) that we hear at every service or read and
contemplate personally – the Word that guarantees eternal life? Or, is worship a must? If we
understand that the Word of God is life-giving food, we will then come to realize that our spiritual
life will be growing 'thin' and weak unless we eat sufficiently as well as proportionally.
In contrast, we will be spiritually energetic if we eat the living Word of God. In the same way, God
provided the people of Israel with manna for 40 years; even though they picked the manna only in
the morning, it was enough for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We should be grateful for 'the last slice of bread' (Ephesians 6:24) because it has the great name of
the Lord Jesus Christ in it. It also has "the taste of" grace for everyone (no favoritism) who loves the
Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, He gave His grace not only to the unfaithful Galatians who followed the
distorted gospel of Christ (Galatians 1: 6-7) but also to the Ephesians, struggling in tumults.
We should love God no matter how weak and little our understanding of Him is. Let’s be determined
to love the Lord Jesus Christ because man's love is getting colder these days (Matthew 24:12). Jesus
once criticized the Pharisees and scribes who glorified Him with their lips. In reality, their hearts
were far from Him (Matthew 15: 1, 8).
Stay alert! Don't be diligent and 'faithful' in the ministry, but your heart is far from Him. Love must
spring from the heart. It is different from the mouth that seamlessly voices words of love without
the essence of true love. For example, young lovers are overflowing with words of love. Somehow,
they break up a few months later and each find another.
In his old age, the Apostle John was exiled on Patmos island where he wrote God's rebuke to the
church leader and the congregation in Ephesus who had rejected His love by abandoning their first
love (Revelation 2: 4).
Please note: Don't freely make plans and promises to love God more than ever and to serve Him
more diligently at the beginning of 2019. But at some point before we come to the end of the year,
we forget Him and play down the need to involve Jesus, the undying Giver of love.
The Lord 'threatened' the Church of Ephesus. If they did not repent, He would take the lampstand
from its place because their fall was so deep (Revelation 2: 5). The lampstand in the Tabernacle faces
the bread on the Table of Showbread (Exodus 35). If they no longer loved the Word of God, their
position as the lamp of the world would be replaced and their worship prayers (the Altar of Incense)
would be pointless.
Eating manna every day, the Israelites complained and compared it with various foods in Egypt such
as fish, meat, cucumbers, watermelons, leeks, garlic, shallots (Numbers 11: 5). Do not behave like
the Israelites whose complaints about the manna accumulated into boredom.
Why did God provide the Israelites with manna only without being mixed with other foods for 40
years? To teach them how to be humble (Deuteronomy 8: 2).
How do we respond to God's Word? Do we “make a fuss” out of it, asking for illustrations and
philosophies from the world to make the sermons sound more interesting and pleasing to the ear?
Be careful when we are fed up with the Word repeatedly preached! If we accept the Word of God as
it is, we are actually enabled to be humble without realizing it, and God loves the humble (James 4:
6). And He works in all things for good to those who love Him (Romans 8: 28).
Generally, we will appreciate a writing more if we know the author and their background. Evidently,
the Letter to the Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul himself (Colossians 4: 18). Without
question, he wrote and examined it carefully before Tychicus took it to the Colossians and
Ephesians. Unfortunately, in today's world of literacy, people trust the author's name and signature
without first reading/examining the content of their writing which is not necessarily accountable.
In his letter Paul wrote "Greetings from me, Paul. I’m writing this with my own hand" to show that
he was responsible for what he wrote. Paul was in prison and in hardship when he wrote this epistle.
In that era, authenticity was very important. By contrast, today signatures are easily faked by means
of sophisticated electronic media. Besides, more people copy and claim others’ works to be their
own. Unaccountable, this action is highly risky.
In several other letters, the Apostle Paul also emphasized that he wrote with his own hand, among
The Letter to the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 16: 21-23, "I, Paul send this greeting with my own
hand. Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord
Jesus be with you."
The letter to the Thessalonians: 2 Thessalonians 3: 16-18, "Now may the Lord of peace himself
give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all. I Paul, write this greeting
with my own hand, which is how I write in every letter. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
Graphology is the study of handwriting. The features of a handwriting and signature can reveal a
person’s behaviour and character alike. For example: upright or sloping (to the right/the left),
pressure and thickness (heavy, medium, light) and size (large, medium and small).
Typically, every book or writing bears the name of the writer. What about the writings of the Apostle
Paul – 13 up to14 letters in total?
He did not write "I write this with my own hand" in each of his letter.
He always began his writings with the words "From Paul, servant of Christ Jesus."; "From Paul
who by God's will was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus."; "From Paul, an apostle neither
because of man is nor by a man but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from
the dead," etc.
In his letters, he only wrote his name 31 times. Tychicus’ name appears 4 times, but the name
related to the Lord Jesus Christ was written in the Epistle to the Ephesians 71 times; in the
Epistle to the Colossians 51 times; in the Epistle to the Romans 38 times; in the first Epistle to
the Corinthians 42 times while in the second 18 times. Up to the the Letter of Philemon, the
name of the Lord occurs 248 times. In short, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned
How happy we will be if the Name of Jesus is always with us! The Bible itself confirms that
where two or three people gather in His Name, He is in their midst (Matthew 18:20). Can we
imagine how awesome it will be if Jesus is in our midst, providing solutions, peace, victory and
many more in our lives!
Admittedly, it is not always that easy to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ and mention His Name.
We must be ready to take the risk of being ridiculed, threatened, rejected, outcast and even
persecuted for Christ's sake. Are we ready?
Let’s not insult, let alone reject, the grace given by the Lord Jesus Christ since it provides everlasting
life to share with Him. When we always glorify His Name, He is with us ready to grant us peace, ways
out of our problems and even victory over Satan's deception. Amen.
Scriptures taken from New English Translation (NET Bible)