The Second Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2021
1 John 5:1-6
Easter’s Ongoing Victory!
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God; by loving God and carrying out his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. (NIV1984)
Dear fellow worshipers of our living Lord and Savior,
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
For seven weeks you and I prepared our hearts and we prepared our lives to celebrate Easter. As we got closer and closer to Easter Sunday our joy and our excitement got stronger and stronger. Even as we gathered in God’s Name to observe the death of God’s Son on Good Friday, we still had the confidence of knowing that our Jesus would most certainly rise from the dead on the third day just as He promised He would!
But, what is there to look forward to after Easter? It almost seems as though the joy and the excitement of Easter Sunday all too quickly fades into the mundane sometimes monotonous routine of life. Whether it’s the daily grind of work or school, or the necessity of doctor’s appointments and household chores, or the stress and the difficulties we have been dealing with for over a year now, we might wonder— has anything changed since Easter?
Our text for today answers that question in a very interesting way. When God the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle John to write these words of our text, He led John to put many of the verbs that we read here in the present tense. The present tense of a verb emphasizes an action that is not only taking place right now, but it emphasizes that this action is an ongoing continuing action. Because the Holy Spirit led John to use the present tense when he wrote these words, we are going to study these words under the theme: Easter’s Ongoing Victory!
Look once again at the opening verses of our text. John writes, “Everyone who believes (Literally= Everyone who is believing) that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves (Literally= everyone who is loving) the father loves (Literally= is loving) his child (Literally= the one who has been born by him) as well.” Our ongoing faith that “Jesus is the Christ,” this world’s only Savior from sin, is purely the result of the fact that we have been “born of God.” We have been “born again” (See John 3:1-8) either through the power of Holy Baptism or through the power of God’s holy inspired Word. This ongoing faith that “Jesus is the Christ” is evidenced in the fact that we “are loving” our heavenly Father. This ongoing love for our heavenly Father is then evidenced in the fact that we “are loving” our spiritual siblings— our brothers and sisters in the faith. Yes, my friends, both our faith and our love are ongoing continuous actions! This means that our ongoing faith in Jesus and our ongoing love for God as well as for each other is not confined to just when we are here in church or just when we are with certain brothers and sisters in the faith. If — God forbid!— if we were to put any kinds of limits on our faith in Jesus, or if— God forbid!— we were to put any kind of restrictions on our love for each other, we could eventually find ourselves in danger of losing both out faith and our love!
Since it is so important to maintain an ongoing faith in Jesus as well as an ongoing love for each other, God the Holy Spirit has John say to us, “This is how we know (Literally= This is how we are knowing) we love (Literally= are loving) the children of God: when we are loving (present tense) God and carrying out (Literally= by doing) his commands.” Genuine ongoing love for God together with ongoing faithfulness to God’s commands are two sides of the very same spiritual coin, my friends. As I was studying this portion of our text it reminded me of two other portions of Scripture. In John 13:34, 35 we hear our Savior say to us, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” And in Matthew 22:37-40 we hear these familiar words of our Savior, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Does that sound like a “tall order”? Does that sound like something we should always strive to have as one of our goals in life— to keep on showing our love for God by expressing our love for each other and by obeying God’s commands? The devil, the world and our own sinful flesh would like us to think so. But look at what the Holy Spirit has John tell us here in our text, “This is love for God: to obey (Literally= to keep on obeying) his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone who is born of God overcomes (Literally= is overcoming) the world. This is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world (Literally= Who is the one who is conquering the world)? Only he who believes (Literally= Only the one who is believing) that Jesus is the Son of God.”
This is where our text for today merges seamlessly with Easter! The victory that Jesus the Christ secured on Good Friday, the victory that Jesus the Christ openly proclaimed on Easter Sunday is the victory that is freely and completely given to everyone who is “born of God.” This Easter victory, my friends, is the victory which has overcome and continues to overcome the world! This Easter victory is the victory that enables us and empowers us to overcome and conquer the sinful world!
What does this mean? Think about it. The world believes that if we do enough good works and/or if we do what we’re supposed to do, we can save ourselves. The victory that is ours by faith, Easter’s ongoing victory, not only reveals to us that it is impossible for us to save ourselves, but it assures us that we don’t need to save ourselves. Jesus the Christ has already saved us! The world thinks that we are to be the captain of our own ship and the center of our own universe. The victory that is ours by faith, Easter’s ongoing victory, overcomes that self-centeredness by filling us with love for others— love for God, love for our spiritual family, love for our neighbors and even love for our enemies! All the religions of this world are based on rules and regulations and requirements that burden people with guilt and with doubt and with hopelessness. The victory that is ours by faith, Easter’s ongoing victory, guarantees to us that Jesus, the Son of God, took away the burden and the guilt of our sin right there— on the cross of Calvary’s hill. (Pointing to the cross) Yes, my friends, the victory that is ours by faith, Easter’s ongoing victory, enables us to walk humbly yet victoriously through this world with the confidence that comes from knowing that the ultimate victory— eternal life in heaven— is already ours!
The rock-solid foundation of Easter’s ongoing victory is found in the closing words of our text, “This is the one who came by water and blood— Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies (Literally= the Spirit is the One who is testifying), because the Spirit is truth.”
There are commentators who say that John’s reference to “water and blood” signify the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This is understandable since this is how Jesus Christ comes to us today. However, in this context, in the context of believing that “Jesus is the Christ” the “Son of God” who has secured the “victory that has overcome the world,” it seems most appropriate to understand John’s words, “This is the one who came by water and blood” as a reference to the two eternity changing events that marked Jesus’ public ministry as “the Christ,” as the “Anointed One.” Those two events are— His baptism in the Jordan River (“water”) and His crucifixion on the hilled called Calvary (“blood”). (Pointing to the cross) John’s statement that Jesus “did not come by water only, but by water and blood” emphasizes the fact that Jesus finished the work that He came into this world to do. “I have reached My goal,” Jesus proclaimed from the cross. (John 19:30) The ongoing victory of Easter is what God the Holy Spirit is “testifying” (present tense) to as “the truth” — right here in His holy inspired Word. As John reminded us in our Gospel Lesson for today (John 20:19-31), “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
There is no denying that whether it is the monotonous sometimes mundane routine of life, or the daily grind of work or school, or the necessity of doctor’s visits and household chores, or the stress and the difficulties that we have been dealing with for over a year now, there is no shortage of things that try to diminish the joy and the excitement that Easter gives to us. My prayer this morning is that if ever/whenever that starts to happen to you, my friends, that you will stay focused on the complete, total, ongoing victory that Easter guarantees to you. Remember that as a born again child of God, as someone who believes that “Jesus is the Christ…the Son of God,” Easter’s ongoing victory is your ongoing victory!
To God be the glory!