By Sherry Black
A Reading from 1 John 5:1-12
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, 4 for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This 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. 7 There are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. 9 If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. 10 Those 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. 11 And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Throughout this First Epistle of John, we can sense the Evangelist’s focus on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, Son of God, as being the epicenter of the Christian faith. When we read about discernment the other day, we were told to make sure that those spirits confess that Jesus has come in the flesh (4:2). Today’s reading contains a similar emphasis.
“This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood” (v. 6). While there have been a number of interpretations of this over the years, it seems likely John was writing to instruct his community in regard to a specific heresy which suggested that Jesus’ identity as Son of God came at his baptism, and left before his crucifixion. John is clear that water as baptism, and blood as crucifixion, are both essential in our faith in Jesus. Jesus, Immanuel, God-with-us was baptized in water; and this same Jesus was ultimately crucified, his body ravaged. The truth of the Incarnation is essential to our faith.
The belief that God became fully human in Christ Jesus was affirmed by the Council of Nicaea in 325, as stated in our Nicene Creed. The truth of the Incarnation is staggeringly good news if we could fully grasp its enormity. St. Augustine, in one of his sermons, put it this way:
Maker of the sun, he is made under the sun. … Creator of heaven and earth, he was born on earth under heaven. … Filling the world, he lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, he nurses at his mother’s bosom. He is both great in the nature of God and small in the form of a servant, but in such a way that his greatness is not diminished by his smallness, nor his smallness overwhelmed by his greatness. (Sermon 187)
The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for ten years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas
The Diocese of Bondo (Anglican Church of Kenya)