1 John

1 John 3:16-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

***

John has just recounted in the previous verses what love is not, and now he gives us an example of what love really looks like.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus would die for us?  What was the purpose?  Why does there have to be blood?  These are questions that plagued me as a young adult, watching in church as people sang about blood.  I was confused about the meaning and why we seemed to be fixated on something so primitive.

The easy way of explaining it would be to say that Jesus died in our place – but this is only scratching the surface.  The truth is, we will still die… but where we end up after death has everything to do with what Christ did on that cross.  So what did Jesus actually do?

 “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.

When a person dies, essentially their blood is ‘poured out’.. they no longer need that life sustaining substance.  In the B.C. days God had the people sacrifice animals to ‘cover’ their sins, so they could be in His presence.  Basically they traded the blood of an animal (the firstborn bull, goat, etc. that had no defects) for their own blood that would be spilled when they died.  The animal had to be perfect because you can’t make a sacrifice with a bull that has something wrong with it.. God is perfect remember?  And so to be in His presence, you’re sacrifice has to be perfect, too.  You had to sacrifice every single time you sinned.  It is easy to see why keeping this up would be difficult, if not impossible.  Enter Jesus.  100% God, 100% man.  While on Earth He had the power to refrain from sin (because He is God), but felt the hurt of being a human.  He walked this planet and was loved, hated, despised, used, and abused.  And yet, He never sinned.. not once.

He was nailed to a cross because the local Jews at the time were enraged that He would confess to be God, and the Roman government wanted to make them happy and not have a riot.  So, the sacrifice for sins (once sustained by an animal’s blood that only ‘covered’ your sin.. not demolished it) is replaced and perfected in Jesus and He becomes the ultimate, perfect sacrifice to die in place of anyone who will accept what He has done (He had no defects).  He dies.  He defeats death by looking straight into the eyes of Satan and saying ‘you can’t have me because I have not sinned’… so instead of going to Hell, He arises from being dead.  He appears to the people on earth who had loved Him, and tells them to tell the world.  Then He rises to Heaven to be with God.  And now because Christ has made the ultimate sacrifice and beaten Satan, He offers us a gift.  He offers it to us because He loves us.

In verse 16 the apostle tells us that just as Christ loved us we must love our brothers and sisters in Him.  Christ put everything aside – His connection with the Father – so that we might be saved from eternal damnation.  Now, in turn, we must be willing to lay down our lives for those who are called to be God’s children.  If a fellow believer needs help, we should have no reservations about stepping up to help them.  As His church we are here for eachother, and for the preaching of His word to those who will hear it.

John continues that love is not hindered by a desire to hold on to material possessions.  We need not worry about what we are to eat, drink or wear.  God knows how to take care of us, and will because He loves us.. He died for us.  If we are more concerned about keeping our possessions rather than helping a brother or sister we have no love.  Our actions towards each other are easily observed.  It is how we react that matters, thoughtful actions and undeserved gifts show who we are on the inside because of what Christ has done for us.  Because He loved us, we too will love.

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. – James 2

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5

***

Lord’s Day 6

16. Q.
Why must he be a true and righteous man?
A.
He must be a true man
because the justice of God requires
that the same human nature which has sinned
should pay for sin. 1
He must be a righteous man
because one who himself is a sinner
cannot pay for others. 2
17. Q.
Why must he at the same time be true God?
A.
He must be true God
so that by the power of his divine nature 1
he might bear in his human nature
the burden of God’s wrath, 2
and might obtain for us
and restore to us
righteousness and life. 3
18. Q.
But who is that Mediator
who at the same time is true God
and a true and righteous man?
A.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1
who has become for us wisdom from God ? that is,
our righteousness, holiness
and redemption (1 Cor 1:30).
19. Q.
From where do you know this?
A.
From the holy gospel,
which God himself first revealed in Paradise. 1
Later, he had it proclaimed
by the patriarchs 2
and prophets, 3
and foreshadowed
by the sacrifices and other ceremonies
of the law. 4
Finally, he had it fulfilled
through his only Son. 5

– See more at: http://www.heidelberg-catechism.com/en/lords-days/6.html#sthash.It3Fq5Yv.dpuf

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