“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV84)
If you’re anything like me, then the benediction simply means “the end.” When I see it coming closer and closer in my Sunday bulletin, I know we are getting closer to the end of the service. But this morning, I think it behooves us to stop for a moment and consider the importance and the message of the benediction. The benediction is important because God instituted it. Back when He made Aaron His first High Priest, He told Aaron to bless the people before they leave the temple. The Aaronic Benediction is, “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” These words were chosen not by Aaron but by God. This benediction, and others like it, have been used for thousands and thousands of years as a way to assure God’s people that they leave their time of worship with the richest blessings God can provide.
At the end of his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul provided this young church his own blessing. Note, like the Aaronic benediction, it contains three parts. It’s Trinitarian in its layout. It is interesting that the first part of the blessing comes from Jesus Christ. It is through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that we know God as He truly is. It is in Jesus that we experience the grace of God. Jesus suffered and died in our place so that we might have the certainty of a redemption we could never attain for ourselves. The second part of Paul’s benediction provides us a blessing from God the Father. Paul reminded us that it is the love that the Father has for us that moves Him to create, sustain and redeem us. God’s love is where our faith begins and ends. Finally, Paul provided us with the blessing that comes for the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit provides us fellowship with God Himself. The Spirit of God works to empower the new man in us to stay in fellowship with Him. He also grants us the ability to live in fellowship with one another. Because of the grace that God has shown us, we are able to express that same grace to those around us. The Spirit of God unites us in faith, hope and purpose.
May we never take the benediction we receive for granted. Each time we hear it spoken, may we soak in deeply the meaning for our lives.