Easter 2 – The Risen Savior gives Peace
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We Proclaim Life
Can I see it? Years ago there was the part of school called, Show and tell. Kids would bring their toys they got for Christmas and sometimes their pets. And when we got the chance to see what they brought, we said those words: Can I see it? And what we meant was, “can I hold it in my own hands.” And the child learned really quickly to say, “see with your eyes, not your hands.” But the desire to see, touch, and even hold and object shows us how we are as humans. God has created us with senses. And we know the world around us through these senses. There is a sort of show and tell going on in the words we look at this morning. Only it’s not a show and tell of toys or pets. It’s a show and tell of our Savior. In 1 John, we read: “1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 John 1:1–2 NIV11-GKE)
In these words John tells us that tells us that there is this word. And this word is eternal life. So he starts off in a very vague and strange way. But very quickly we see that he is speaking about Jesus because he says that he heard, saw, and touched this word. And then pretty quickly, we begin to realize he is speaking about Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead and they saw him. They heard him. And when we think of Thomas here this morning in our gospel, they even touched him.
John tells them that we, the apostles’ saw, heard, and touched Jesus. And here is where it gets interesting. Instead of saying, “now you get to see, hear, and even touch Jesus,” He says, “we proclaim him.”1 And you can almost hear the people wondering why he got to see and touch Jesus, but they do not get to.
And here, from this Sunday on, we’re going to be seeing a shift in Jesus’ teaching and the apostles too. Seeing does not create faith in Jesus. There were many people who saw Jesus perform miracles. Think of the several times he fed thousands of people in one sitting. At the end of John 6, after seeing this miracle and even tasting it, instead of believing in Jesus, most people walked away.
So in these words we see John carrying out what Jesus taught him to do. He marries the church not to the sight of Jesus. Instead, he marries the church to the word of Jesus. And through that word he creates faith in their hearts and gives them eternal life. And that’s why John so boldly writes to them that he was proclaiming life to them, not showing life to them. For through God’s word he is able to give them eternal life. But there’s more. John writes: “3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 John 1:3–4 NIV11-GKE)
Here in these words we find another question and objection. John says, “We proclaim life.” And through that they have Jesus, and all the eternal life he brings with them. That deals with what will happen on their last day. On their last day they will have eternal life because Jesus rose from the dead to prove that their sins were forgiven. But the other objection then becomes, “what about my every day life?” The issue isn’t their last day, but instead, it’s this day.
To that question, John too says we proclaim. For God’s word doesn’t just give us eternal life. It also gives us fellowship with him. And my friends in Christ, that is so valuable for us to understand in our every day lives. For, as we go through classes to be confirmed, we learn about the boundaries God places in his word. Over here we have the “do not” list. And over here we have the “go ahead and do this” list. And we are so thankful for this. For we need boundaries and correction. And when we fail at these we need the eternal life of forgiveness day by day. And as we confess our sins every day, Jesus forgives us.
But my friends in Christ, what about all the empty space in the middle? What about the areas where we do not have a “do” or “Do not?” Think of your every day life: What am I going to do when I grow up? Should I ask that girl out on a date? Should I change my job or get a new one? When it comes to these every day issues in our lives, it would be wonderful to have Jesus appear right next to us so that we can ask him: “should I do this?” But he does not. Instead, he first give us us boundaries in his word. But then he also gives us wisdom. There are real people we can learn from in God’s word. We look at their examples and we can either say, “he did that the right way” or we can say the opposite. But they are there to learn from.
The other important wisdom that God gives us is that there are going to be so many areas in our lives God has set us free to make our own decisions. Should I ask that girl out on a date? Give it a try. Should I stay in this job or move to another? Do your homework and then make your decision. What am I going to do when I grow up? First figure out what you are good at. Then figure out what you actually like to do. Finally, figure out how you can use those to serve others. But don’t worry about 10 years from now when, let’s face it, you probably have enough on your plate now.
That, my dear friends, was the context that the church of John’s day was wrestling with. Jesus had ascended. All the other apostles and eye witnesses of Jesus were dead too. All that was left was John. And he would leave them soon too. How will they get by? And the answer is found in those beautiful simple words: We proclaim Life. Jesus is their eternal life. And Jesus is their every day life too. He is their every day life in that, as we are connected to God’s word, he has fellowship with us.
What an amazing thought: There are all these areas in our lives where God gives us these free choices. And what happens? We blunder through the darkness and then mess up. And what is so amazing about our Savior is that he forgives us and then invites us to get back up on the horse again. For example, the young man who asks a girl out on a date for the first time gets nervous. So what does he do? He makes fun of the young woman he would like to ask out on a date. After all, that’s what works with his buddies on the football field. And when he gets a verbal tongue-lashing, he feels horrible. But that’s where there is such courage and strength in these word, “we proclaim.” For in these we have the promise that we have fellowship with Jesus. And since that’s the case, he will be with us. He will be with us to give us guidance in his word and forgiveness when we fail. But in all of this we cling not to ourselves. Instead, we cling to Jesus in his word. For in his word we receive forgiveness so that we reach eternal life. And in our every day life Jesus gives us wisdom through his word. Amen.
1 “ⲁⲡⲁⲅⲅⲉⲗⲗⲟⲙⲉⲛ” (1 John 1:2 GNT-ALEX)