Can We Get a Witness?
1 John 5:1-7
The apostle John, author of three New Testament letters, a Gospel, and the great Revelation from Christ, is often called the “apostle of love.” He refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in the Gospel of John. He emphasizes Jesus’ last instructions to his followers that they “love one another” (John 13:34-35). He points out that God doesn’t just love; he IS love (1 John 4:8). And in this week’s reading from 1 John 5, he speaks of love five times in the first three verses alone!
John asks Christians to love each other by loving God and keeping his commandment. This is an important reminder that love, for John, has a different quality than our modern understanding of the word. We love ice cream or nachos. We love the latest Apple or Android device. We “fall in love” with people we hardly know or may never even have met. But love, for John, is looking out for someone else’s best interests at the expense of your own. That may mean warning someone to stay away from something that could be harmful to them, because God has given that same warning to us. The world tells us that warning others of harmful behaviors is “unloving.” John strongly disagrees.
God loves us in the same way, by putting our own best interests before his own. The witness of his love to us is found in water and blood. The spear that pierced Jesus’ side brought forth water and blood. Water, in which we are baptized and which gives us new birth as God’s children; and blood, which under wine is given to us to drink and grants us eternal life. The Spirit is always drawing us to these signs of God’s ongoing love for us. These are the witnesses that our sins are forgiven, and that we are Christ’s forever.
Life-giving God, by your Spirit draw us to the places where Christ ever witnesses to his love for us, in water and in blood. Amen.