Advent Devotion for December 27
Candle Lighter says: “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life,”
Response: “…and this life is in His Son.”
SCRIPTURE: I John 5:1-12
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. 2 We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. 3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
6 And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. 7 So we have these three witnesses— 8 the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. 9 Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.
11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
SOME THOUGHTS: The debate as to Jesus’ identity continued on during the years following His death, resurrection, and ascension. Put simply, was He God or not. In spite of the massive amount of evidence that He was indeed the Son of God, many of the Jewish leaders simply could not or would not, accept that God, the Messiah, had come in human flesh.
One of the heresies confronting John and the early believers was put forth by a man named Cerinthus. In a nutshell, he taught that Jesus was a normal human being born to Mary and Joseph. He was wiser and more righteous than other men. He further taught that “the Christ” descended on Him at His baptism and left before His crucifixion. There is more, but you get the idea. In this passage written in the 90’s A.D., the old disciple writes convincingly in addressing some of the heresies. First, he defines who are true Christians and how they are to love God by obeying His word. How do you love God? Obey the Scriptures! He then takes on the heresy directly by arguing evidence. He introduces two actions in proving Jesus as God’s Son, the baptism and His shed blood on the cross, in his words, “by water and blood.” Then, he adds the witness of the Holy Spirit. What is John driving at? All Jews knew one must have at least two witnesses to confirm the truth (Deuteronomy 19:15). In this case, you have three witnesses, all of whom agree (v.8). Let’s take a step back and look at each one. At Jesus’ baptism, do you remember what happened? As Jesus came out of the water, the Spirit of God descended like a dove from heaven and a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” The Holy Spirit and the voice of God gave affirmation at the baptism of Jesus calling Jesus His Son. Hence, the water and the Spirit give evidence as to Jesus being the Son of God. What then is the significance of the blood? How does it testify to the identity of Jesus? Again, think through what happened in Jesus’ crucifixion. At His death, when He was speared, out came water and blood, but what else happened? The curtain in the Temple was torn from top to bottom, from heaven to earth. Who tore the curtain? None other than God the Father, testifying that the sacrifice of the blood of His Son was accepted. Through the Spirit, the water, and the blood, God testified regarding His Son. To reject God’s testimony about His own Son, is to call God a liar as John puts it! And then John draws the bottom line for his readers and for us, “He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.” What John has done for us is to give us a very down-to-earth way to describe the theology of the Incarnation. The birth of Jesus has truly mind-boggling ramifications!
MUSIC: Joy to the World by Libera Choir (This is glorious singing by an outstanding boy choir) (YouTube)
PRAYER: Almighty God, we invoke Thee, the Fountain of Everlasting Light; and entreat Thee to send forth Thy truth into our hearts, and to pour upon us the glory of Thy brightness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—Sarum Breviary, 1085 A.D.