James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

I had a friend who used to say that if you’re ever asked a question in Sunday School, and you haven’t been paying attention like you should, it’s a pretty safe choice to answer “Jesus”. And here, he would be right. 

We are surrounded by good gifts – I think of the physical world here. The breaths we take in, the wonderful food we consume (and sometimes over-consume), the medical support system available to us when things go wrong – these are all good gifts. 

And then perfect gifts, I tend to think of as spiritual. This church – not the building, which is good, and for me would fall into the first group. But the people – this church is a blessing. Salvation is a perfect gift. And the means of salvation – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – well, I don’t know how to rank perfect gifts if everything is perfect, but He’d be at the top. 

And yet, after He had offered His sinless body on the cross as a sacrifice for my sin and for your sin, He descended to Hell. Did God His Heavenly Father turn away from Him? Habakkuk 1:13 says of God the Father “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil”, and Jesus Himself quotes Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“. 

But we just read that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”. So how could both be true? 

I think God’s light shines everywhere, even into Hell. I’m no theologian, and I’ll accept any guidance or correction on this. When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, the end of verse 22 and then 23 says “The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” He was seeing from Hades – what we would call “Hell” – into Heaven. I don’t know if this was optical light or spiritual light, but the rich man saw

And I believe that God cannot look upon sin, but He sees people. When Jesus went to the cross and died, he became sin. The first part of 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us”. Christ was not a sinner – He was carrying the guilt, the shame, the punishment for our sins. The final verse of the chapter Jesus quoted from the cross says “For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from Him and but has listened to His cry for help.” 

And because of that, on the third day Jesus arose from the grave, triumphant. That’s the second part of that verse in Corinthians: Jesus was made sin for us “so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”. 

And that is what we are remembering now, with the wafer and juice representing the body and blood of Jesus. Let’s pray. 

Father God, You who do not turn, thank You for the perfect gift of Jesus – His example, His teachings, His work on the cross. All part of Your perfect plan. Because of that, I can approach Your throne boldly. In Jesus’ name, amen.