1 John 1:1-2:2 (Second Sunday of Easter—Series B)
“Proclaiming His Message”
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT
April 8, 2018
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Our text is from the Epistle reading recorded in 1 John 1 and 2:
11That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have touched, concerning the Word of life—2and the life was made known, and we have seen and we bear witness and we announce to you the eternal life which was with the Father and has been made known to you—3which we have seen and heard, we announce also to you, so that you also might have fellowship with us. And indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write these things so that our joy may be complete. 5Now this is the message which we have heard from Him and report to you, that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. 6If we should say that we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7If we should walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8If we should say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we should confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous so that He should forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we should say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.
21My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. 2And He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for [the sins] of the whole world.
They were known as Gnostics, from the Greek word meaning “knowledge.” They claimed to have a special or secret knowledge of God. The Early Church Father Irenaeus tells us that these Gnostics held that a secret tradition, passed down by word of mouth, had more authority than the Scriptures. This special, secret knowledge had to be experienced personally. You couldn’t learn it from books, not even from the Bible.
One of the teachings of the Gnostics was that Jesus only appeared to be a flesh-and-blood human being who was born and was crucified. They claimed that Jesus was not the Christ who had come in human flesh, but an illusion created by His divine power. You see, Jesus was a man among men to be sure, but still merely a man. At His baptism, the Gnostics said, the “heavenly Christ” descended on Jesus in the form of a dove and enabled Him to reveal the unknown God and to perform miracles. At His Passion, the “heavenly Christ” again left Jesus, and only Jesus the man suffered and died.
That, people of God, is the lie which the apostle John dealt with in our Epistle. In 1:7, John writes that the “blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus is declared to be the Son of God, but not in divinity only. He has blood which can be shed—He’s fully human! Painstakingly John opens this letter, “That which was from the beginning”—Jesus is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God”—“which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have touched”—Jesus, “for us and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” Jesus is fully God and fully human. The divine Second Person of the Triune Godhead took on human flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The holy Christian Church confesses this Biblical truth in her Creeds, including the Athanasian Creed, “It is also necessary for everlasting salvation that one faithfully believe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” . . . “We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time both God and man.”
Perhaps a little Catechism review of the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed would be helpful. You can find it on page 322 in the front of the hymnal on the bottom right-hand corner. Luther explains, “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.” The Jesus that John and the apostles heard and saw and touched is the eternal Son of God who entered human history. He was born as a man with a body and soul in fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises. He is both Creator and creature, God and man, in one person. He had to become fully human (yet without sin) in order to fulfill humanity’s obligation to keep God’s Law. Jesus had to be fully human in order to be able to suffer and die, paying the penalty for humanity’s sin. But He also had to be true God so that His suffering, death, and resurrection could provide a sufficient ransom and atonement for the sins of the world by His death on the cross.
If Jesus were not true God and true Man in one Christ, the cross would have been pointless. Jesus could not have shed His perfect, sinless blood to cleanse us if He were not the sinless, perfect God-Man. As a result, there would be no forgiveness of sins. There would be no fellowship with God. There would be no hope because we would all be lost under the wrath and eternal condemnation of God’s justice and rightness against our sins and our sinful nature. We would all be punished with eternal death in hell.
Do you understand the danger of the lie? Apart from God’s gracious intervention in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, there is no hope. There is only the darkness of sin and the black night of eternal death. That’s what happens if the world’s useless philosophies like Gnosticism have their way. They rob Christ of His divinity or His humanity. They steal away the glory of the Son of God who took on human flesh to save us, lost and condemned creatures. They offer no message of comfort, hope, or joy.
Contrast this, dear friends, with God’s ultimate message to you and to all people in the concrete, visible, touchable, historical reality of His incarnate Son, Jesus. “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. . . . Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (Jn. 20:19-20, 26-28 ESV).
Jesus, true God and true Man, is the Living One. And this is the message that John and the apostles and the first Christians heard from Him whom they saw and touched both before and after His death and resurrection, “that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. If we should say that we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. If we should walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
We do not wish to follow the lies or to live in the lies. We do not want to walk in the darkness of our sins, of death, of hell. God the Father has given us His One-of-a-Kind Son who took on our flesh and blood in order to suffer the punishment for our sins, to endure hell itself on the cross, and to shed His blood to cleanse us from all sins, rescuing us from death and hell. “It is only Jesus’ blood, only His offering of Himself on the cross, only the suffering and death of the Son, the Word of life in the flesh, that has power to save—power to cover, power to cleanse, power to blot out every iniquity.” To walk in the light of the Crucified and Risen Christ is nothing else than to face the fact of our sins. To walk in the light of Jesus is to confess our sins and to receive the forgiveness of all our sins through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus who is both true God and true Man, “whose blood set us free to be people of God” (This is the Feast, st. 1, LSB page 155).
Yes, the true, real, physical blood of Jesus Christ, true God and Man, was shed on the cross to cleanse you from all your sins. Your forgiveness is won. Eternal life is yours because you have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. The lie takes away this reality from you. But the truth of the message of the Gospel proclaimed to you assures you that, because of the saving work of Jesus Christ, you have genuine fellowship, unity, and communion with the God who made you, who redeemed you, and who makes you holy by the gift of the Spirit poured out upon you in His Word and Sacraments. By grace through faith in Jesus Christ, you have been made into the people of God, the communion of saints, His holy, Christian Church. You have been called out from the darkness of the lies of sin and death and have been brought into the light of life as God’s people and heirs of salvation, through Jesus Christ your Lord. Amen.
 Bruce G. Schuchard, Concordia Commentary: 1-3 John (St. Louis: Concordia, 2012), 134.