EPISTLE | 1 JOHN 5:1-12
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. 7There are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. 9If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
“There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.” (vv.7-8)
Ah, the privilege and burden of attending seminary. I can no longer hear the text without hearing all the theological resonances in it. This morning is no different. I hear here (because we covered it again yesterday in Systematic Theology) a working theology of the sacraments.
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper share the same role with the Word in the church’s life, according to Calvin. The Word of God and the Sacraments both hold forth Christ, ultimately. “And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (v.11). John the Pastor asks his churches to see how the Holy Spirit, the water of baptism, and the cup of communion (of suffering?) all worked together in Christ’s life to verify his identity as the Son of God while he was on earth.
The same Holy Spirit, the same water, and the same cup speak to Christ’s life in our midst when we gather together to worship. This is radically and ultimately what happens when we hear the Word preached, when we are baptized, and when we partake together of the body and blood of Christ, all through the illuminating and animating work of the Holy Spirit. This is why sacraments are so important in worship, and why a proper understanding of what the sacraments “do” is so vitally important (and how fitting to examine and explore them during Eastertide!): “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (v.12).
Lord of Life, Lord of Love,
Share with us again your resurrected life
in Your eloquent Word,
in Your articulate bath,
in Your loquacious banquet.
Send Your Spirit upon us
that our eyes may be opened,
that our ears may be tuned,
that our noses may be trained,
that our palettes may be cultivated,
that our fingers may be softened,
in order to better receive Your life in us
and abide in You more and more.