From Death to Life
Open Your Bible
Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:16-21, 1 John 5:1-13
BY Jen Yokel
My mom is one of the most generous people I know. I’m grateful to say that growing up, I never felt a lack of love or met needs, and to this day, she still delights in sending a care package, just because. Giving is her way to show care, even over great distances. I mention small things, like a spice for a recipe I want to try or a little bowl I broke, and then one day a box arrives with little bags of cumin seeds or a set of pretty measuring bowls or some other thing I never thought to ask for, all with sticky notes saying, “I thought you’d like this.”
I confess, there have been times I’ve felt embarrassed by this overflowing generosity, or struggled to find ways to speak this love language back to her. But the older I get, and the longer I’m living far from home, the more her generosity and thoughtfulness mean to me. Because after all, it’s never really about the gifts, though I’m grateful to know I’ve been heard. To be remembered, even in seemingly small ways, reminds me that I am deeply loved.
In today’s reading, I can’t help but see God’s generosity and notice something similarly lavish, almost embarrassingly so. For most of my life, when I’ve read the words “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), I’ve only thought of the ways I’ve gone wrong: Yep, that’s me! Broken and in need of fixing! But now I see it from a slightly different angle.
Consider for a moment that this mindset is perhaps one of poverty mentality. Once I start to look for it, I can see God’s special interest in the poor all throughout Scripture, from the Law’s provisions for gleaning and Jubilee, to Jesus’s healing and humanizing the lowest members of society. God is in the business of meeting our lack and filling our empty hands. And death without hope is the ultimate kind of poverty.
Contrast this with God’s abundance: “But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ, even though we were dead in trespasses” (Ephesians 2:4–5, emphasis mine). His is a wealth and generosity we cannot possibly come close to reciprocating or paying back. These “immeasurable riches of His grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” are “God’s gift” to us, to all who trust in Jesus (vv.7–8).
These days, nothing makes more sense to me than the Incarnation. There’s a mystery at work where God, despite having power and wealth far surpassing anything we could imagine, extends His kind hand toward us. God takes on the human form of a rabbi, gets the dust of the earth in His clothes, touches the untouchable, debates the educated, and shares dinner with some of the most despised, forgotten people imaginable. God descended to suffer with us, experiencing the ultimate poverty of death, but then rising above it all to lead us in a better way, to lead us to Him.
And where does that leave us? Well, Scripture says, “Everyone who has been born of God conquers the world” (1John 5:4). Or perhaps, as the father says to the eldest brother in the parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11–31), “Everything I have is yours” (v.31). All this abundance is ours: we are seen, remembered, and loved—if only we will choose to take hold of what is already ours because of Jesus.