Stroll through Scripture for Sunday June 23, 2024

Based on 1 John 1:1-2:2

According to the Lutheran Study Bible, Martin Luther said this about 1 John: “This is an outstanding epistle…so beautifully and gently does it picture Christ to us.” (pg. 2012)

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be diving into 1 John and looking at the letter more in depth.  The Lutheran Study Bible reminds us that there are three main points to the letter.  First, “Jesus offered himself as the ‘atoning sacrifice’ for human sin.”  Second, it argues that Jesus was fully human as well as spiritual.  Third, “the writer insists that the words and actions of believers must go together.” (Pg. 2012-3).  

That third one could be repeated multiple times every day and I think humanity would still either ignore it or make new excuses for why it isn’t happening.  There’s a whole lot that can said about this last point, that I’ll hold off on for now. 

For this week’s reading we are looking at the opening of 1 John.  The first paragraph is full of declarations about Jesus.  It jumps right into the argument.  And I love verse four where it is stating – “We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”  It is proclamation not with intent to convince or persuade, but in order to state fully what is believed and how it impacts the writer.  It’s like saying – What you do with it is up to you.  As for us, we’re thrilled.  

The second paragraph is about confession – a different form of proclamation.  This paragraph is often used in the liturgy for confession and forgiveness.  It is very common for congregations to gloss over the confession and forgiveness.  People don’t like to feel bad about themselves and how they have messed up.  They have a tendency to fly through this early part of the service.  And when we do, we miss something very important.  To me, the confession and forgiveness is one of the most important parts of a worship service.  It forces us to stop, to self-reflect.  It forces us to see who we really are – human, full of brokenness.  Confession gives us an opportunity to say that we can’t save ourselves no matter how hard we try.  And it frees us from this impossible burden.  The announcement of forgiveness is powerful, when it is actually heard.  It is the summation of Good News – our relationship with God is restored, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.  And if God restores that relationship, then other relationships have the possibility of restoration as well.  

The third paragraph begins chapter two.  The writer takes what was written in the first two paragraphs and combines them in this paragraph – pointing to who Jesus is and what Jesus does.  Jesus rights the wrongs, not just for us individually, but also for the whole world.  Powerful stuff.  I can see why Luther really liked this letter.

Questions for reflection:

  • The first paragraph makes some foundational proclamations about Jesus.  And those proclamations “make our joy complete.”  What proclamations about Jesus can you make that bring you joy?
  • The second paragraph is about confession and forgiveness.  What does confession and forgiveness mean to you?  How is it transformative?
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