Something seems to be wrong with the process of inserting YouTube videos, so here’s the link to this week’s video: https://youtu.be/pNxsYfBgLsE
In his gospel, John tells an amazing story. According to the story, Jesus needed to go through Samaria. That in iteself makes the story amazing, because no good Jew would have any dealings with Samaritans. Then, while the disciples awent into town to do business, Jesus waited by the well. While he was waiting, a woman came up and offered to get Him some water. A whole lot of other things happened and she ran back into the village to talk to the people about this guy she met at the well. They ran out to hear Jesus and the climax of the story, in my opinion, was when the people told the woman that while they believed because of what she said, now they believed because they heard Jesus themselves. While we may introduce people to Jesus, ultimately, God Himself makes the message come to life in the hearts and minds of those who follow Him
1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
John made a very simple, yet elegant statement here: if anyone believes that Jesus is the Messiah, they’ve been born of God. He continued with that idea by noting that if someone loves the Father, they’ll love the Son also. While this isn’t always true in human relationships, most sons who have fathers that are loved and respected in the community begin life with all kinds of advantages. When it comes to God the Father and God the Son, though, they are co-equal and loving the Father naturally means loving the Son, just as loving the Son means loving the Father.
2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
John extended this idea of familial love by including the way we show love to all of God’s children: by keeping His commandments. What that boils down to, as I understand it, is to love others the same way that God loves us and being willing to sacrifice everything to take care of the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. As we go through the economic effects of the coronavirus, the need to practice that kind of self-sacrificing love becomes overwhelming at times. While we aren’t called to surrender our lives in most cases, we’re called to be willing to surrender all of our earthly goods to care for the needs of those around us, especially people of the church. When we understand that Jesus boiled all the commandments into two basic categories: love God and love people, then it’s easy to understand that by loving God and by loving people we’re keeping God’s commandments. It’s not necessarily easy, especially with some people, but it’s not really a great burden. Whenever I run into someone that’s difficult to love, I realize how difficult I am to love and remember that God loved me first. If God can love me, even at my worst, I can find ways to love anyone. That commandment, while difficult, isn’t burdensome.
4. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
John saw life in terms of those things that were of God and those things that were opposed to God or the world. If someone is born of God, then they wouldn’t be bothered by those things that are of the world. They would overcome the world and the things of this world. The ultimate victory that overcomes the world is our faith. The fact that we can continue to trust in God, to have faith in His power and control in this world in spite of the way that the world is arrayed against us is the ultimate victory that allows us to live each day for God and to show His love to others. We overcome the world by trusting and believing that Jesus is the Son of God even those who live in the world mock and attack us for our faith. In John’s day, that would include overcoming all forms of persecution including exile and death. When the world seeks to cut us off from everyone, we have our relationship with God. If the world should seek victory by killing us and hoping to extinguish our existence, we have the power of the resurrection and life eternal that overcomes the world. The end result either way is that we overcome the world and have victory in Christ.
6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7 For there are three that bear record [in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth,] the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
You’ll notice that I’ve put part of verses 7 and 8 in brackets. Most later translations don’t include this wording: not because it isn’t true, but because those words don’t appear in the best manuscripts. Without going into a lesson on textual criticism, especially because I don’t know too much about it, my understanding is that when this happens, scholars believe that later scribes added these words to help clarify the message of the passage. I don’t doubt the truth of those words, I just don’t believe that they were in the original manuscripts. Does that make sense? That being said, John made an important doctrinal statement by noting that Jesus came from the water and the blood, while the Spirit bore witness. I think there’s a bit of a double meaning. First, the water and the blood could mean that Jesus came and we saw the Spirit approve during His baptism and during the crucifixion. The second meaning could be when Jesus was crucified and they stuck the spear in His side, both water and blood came out. A.T Robertson would argue that while that last point might be spiritual truth, the grammar and the language doesn’t have that meaning. He believes that the implication is that these are two separate events. Whatever the situation, John makes it clear that we understand Jesus to be the Son of God and the Messiah on the basis of a multiple number of proofs including the witness of the Spirit.
9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
John reminded us that while man’s testimony is great, God’s testimony is greater. I’m reminded of the story of the women at the well where the townspeople went out to the well to hear from Jesus because of the testimony of the woman who had met Jesus at the well. “And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42) The amazing thing about entering into a relationship with God is that we begin because someone tells us about God’s love for us. Once we enter into that relationship, we realize how much greater it is than we could have ever imagined. God testifies to us about His Son through His love, grace, and forgiveness as well as by the presence of the Holy Spirit. When you believe in Christ, God Himself lets you know even more about His amazing love. God has made the message of Jesus clear, and those who refuse to believe in the Son, those who refuse to believe God proclaim by their actions that they think God is a liar. Many religions seek to show the way to a better afterlife, but the only promise of eternal life we have comes from the message of Jesus Christ because eternal life is found in Him. Those who are in a relationship with the Son have this life and those without the Son do not have this life. Many seek assurance that they’re OK with God by pointing to all the good things they do. While those are wonderful things to do, the only promise of eternal life is found in Jesus Christ. Those who have a true promise of eternal life because of their relationship with Jesus Christ can sing joyfully, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”