But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) Ephesians 4.7-10
What is the measure of Christ’s gift? Can we dare say it is measurable—that it is constrained by some quantifiable boundary or within reach of an identifiable metric or captured by some marked limit that it might be said of Christ’s gift what is said by God to the sea, “Thus far shall your proud waves come and no further?” To limit the measure of Christ’s gift to a comprehensible measure consequently prescribes limits to the grace given to each one of us, his church. It would mean there is some end, some limit to the grace given to us, and suddenly, the gospel is robbed of its beauty. Grace would then only remain as long as it accords with the measure of Christ’s gift. It would be as if a hungry child received an offer to feast at the king’s table, and, though having eaten his fill and temporarily relieved of his hunger, was sent back to his life of want because the measure of the gift given him expired with a single feast.
Praise God that the measure of Christ’s gift given his church is incompressible and infinite—that it knows no limit or expiration, and that we, once hopelessly starving have been made to eat at the King’s table, that eternal and unending feast, always! We have been led to the eternal well whose Living Water never runs out and been offered to drink freely by Him who always satisfies! We have been given eternal grace according to the measure of Christ’s eternal gift! This, indeed, is why the gospel is always and forever good news of great joy for the church of Jesus.
This distribution of the gift of grace to the church is, according to the apostle Paul, is the fulfillment of Psalm 68 that recounts the Lord’s marching victoriously up to Mount Sinai before Israel after the exodus. In recalling this psalm, which in verse 18 declares, “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men,” Paul is declaring that Jesus is the one who in his incarnation, death and ascension both receives the spoils of his victory and gives the gifts of his victory to his church. The apostle labors to elucidate the wonder of this. The way Jesus is made fit to be the victorious ascender begins with his condescension—with his humbling himself and taking on corruptible flesh and descending ultimately to the lowliest state in death. Being willing to venture there, even to death, Jesus, the conquering King burst forth in victorious exaltation that his victory might permeate and pervade all things from the depths of death to the heights of heaven. There is, therefore, no path upon which sinners tread on their journey to death that the victory parade of Jesus’ resurrection has not marched and swept up in its procession all those who repent of sin and cling to the King.