“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” 1 John 1:1-2; Easter 2; April 8, 2018
Grace…Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Have you ever been around someone who brought life wherever they went? They could say the right thing or do the right thing at just the right time of the day? Maybe it was your father, your dad, who had that sense of optimism about life, and gave you courage to face your situation in life? Maybe it was your mother, who could give the right advice at the right time? Or maybe it was a teacher, or someone you worked with? Or even that special aunt or uncle? They could just tell a funny story or they just had the right kind of personality to pick everyone else up around them. It takes a special person to bring life to a group of people.
Sometimes bringing life to a group of people might mean, just saying the right things, in the right way, that brings a sense of encouragement, hope and joy, especially to people who are going through some really hard times. For instance, I know that for most of us, it is really difficult to say something to a person who is going through a rough time or has just gone through a hard time, like the death of a parent, or a spouse, or especially a child. What can you do to bring joy or hope to their life? What can you say, or what words can you use, or who can you look to, to truly bring life to their troubled world? Is there a word that will bring them life?
Jesus had that word of life for His disciples in our Gospel lesson today. As He came into their room that was filled with fear and gloom, Jesus came in and gave that word of life, saying, “Peace be with you! (Shalom)”. These disciples had been locked up, for quite a while, quite possibly even three days together, full of fear and thinking they might be killed next. They may have even feared the rebuke that Jesus would give them for running away and deserting Him. But, Jesus comes in, saying, “Peace be with you!” You talk about words that would bring forgiveness, hope, and joy. “Peace (Shalom)—be –with you!
And then Jesus went even further. He showed them His hands and His side. The marks of where the nails were in His hands, which connected Him to the agony of the cross. And then the gruesome wound of the spear to His side, which was the final killing blow. The wound out of which the Gospel of John tells us flowed blood and water. These are the marks of His crucifixion, the marks of His death, and are truly now the marks of His victory. Not only did He speak the words of life, Jesus showed that He was the very Word of Life, Himself. He who overcame death itself, showed now that He would bring life wherever He went.
The Gospel of John goes on to say that when the disciples heard Jesus’ voice and saw the wounds, they were overjoyed! Death had been defeated. Their champion and Teacher was back. And they, at least for this short moment of time, were no longer full of fear, but instead were overjoyed. Their sorrow was forgotten, because Jesus had brought life into their room. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
In our text from the book of 1st John, John the apostle is saying to us, “I was there!” I saw the risen Jesus with my own eyes. I heard His voice. I touched His wounds! I was there! His life was made manifest (totally clear) to all of us and me! Jesus not only brought life to our room, but He is the very essence of life itself!
John, through the power of the Holy Spirit, wants us to experience this life too. He wants it to be just as if we were there too! He wants us to have fellowship with Him. Because very often we are like those disciples before Jesus rose from the dead. Locked up in fear. Troubled about life. Hopeless about the future. Overcome by fear. Deadlocked in doubt. But, Jesus comes in to us, as well, and says, “Peace be with you (and you and you!)”
And Jesus further desires to show you His hands and side, by which He died for your sins, and overcame death and the devil. This is your Savior! In Him you have forgiveness for every sin of your life. You have hope for every situation. And through faith in Him you have eternal life. John says we write these things “that you may have fellowship with us and with God.” And that you too may have complete joy, just as the disciples were that day.
So, what would it take for you to be overjoyed in life? Some of you might say, well, say I wish I didn’t have to work anymore. Then I would have complete joy. And others might say, “I wish I just didn’t have to go to school any more. Then I would have complete joy.” And still others might say, I wish I could get back to work again, or go to school again, or that the kids would be younger, or the kids would be older, or that I would be younger…or that my body wouldn’t ache…(do you get my drift?) But, God’s Word would say, here you have fellowship with Jesus, through faith in Him, and with Him you have everything. He is your joy, your hope, your life.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we believe that this book of 1st John, was written by the Apostle John himself later on in life. By this time, he was probably 70 or 80 years old. Very old at this time in history. He had seen many things in life. He was an eyewitness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He had heard many of the false attacks against Jesus and the Christian faith. He had also been personally mocked. He had by this time lost several of his friends, and all of his fellow disciples through persecution. Yet John was saying is, “What we saw, and heard and felt was the truth! Faith in Jesus is worth it, because He is worth it. This is the life we proclaim!
And John asks, if you say you believe in Him, and walk in the light, why do you in darkness? “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Today is a good day to think about this. It’s just been one week since we celebrated the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. How have you been “walking” through this past week?
In much of the Bible “walking” means “living or conducting your life.” How have you been walking-- living your life this past week? Are you living like someone who has fellowship with Jesus? Are you walking in His light? Or are you walking in darkness? John says, “If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
“But if we 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Today, we give thanks that our God is faithful. He will never let us down. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin. His death and resurrection mean everything for us. We have fellowship with Him and the disciples who were His eyewitnesses. His presence in our life gives us forgiveness and hope for every situation of life, and it calls for us to proclaim His life wherever we are. Proclaiming His Life, doesn’t necessarily mean that we all preach a sermon either. It’s how you live your life, how you walk the walk of the Christian life in your home or family, in our work or school, or out in our community.
For Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia!