–By Elizabeth Ahlman
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 John 5:4-12, ESV).
In Jewish courts, something was considered to be a true witness or testimony if two people testified to the same thing (John 8:17-18). If we can accept such testimony of men as true, says John, then how much more can we accept the testimony of God? It should be rather straightforward, yet so often this sinful world and our own Old Adams do not wish to accept the testimony God — neither its content nor its vehicle (the way in which it is conveyed to us).
Rather, we’d like to run after other testimonies — the testimonies of our emotions, perhaps. How do we FEEL when we read God’s Word? Or, how do we feel about our dear friend who is struggling with the sin of living with his fiance? We love them. They’re a great couple; our emotions and theirs tell us that their actions are okay, so we listen to that testimony instead of to God’s testimony about marriage. In this situation, the testimony of who Christ is depends on our feelings — if we feel it’s okay, then Jesus isn’t really a Jesus who holds to the Law concerning marriage. If we feel it’s okay, then Jesus isn’t really a Jesus who condemns sexual sin. We let our emotions testify to who Jesus is, and in so doing, we receive a Jesus who is lesser.
Or sometimes we let the world’s testimony tell us who Jesus is. A nice teacher. A campaigner for social justice. A guy who was pretty compelling, but just a guy when it came right down to it. Maybe a delusional person who thought He was God. A guy that some people like, but not to be discussed or proclaimed. Something you keep in your pocket for yourself if that’s your thing and leave others alone. When the world testifies to Jesus, we receive a Jesus who is lesser.
With all these different testimonies, we can often end up with our heads spinning. It’s easy to fall into latching on to whatever testimony is before us. However, the good news for us is that God does not leave us with the testimonies of our sinful selves and the sinful world alone. Instead, He Himself testifies to the true Jesus. The water that flowed from Jesus’ side, and the blood that flowed from His body as He was crucified testify to Who He really is — a Jesus who upholds and fulfills the Law perfectly, a Jesus Who gives His righteousness away to sinners, a Jesus Who takes on death for YOU. And God Himself testified that this Jesus was no mere man, but His very own Beloved Son. The content of that witness is this: “that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” And that content is delivered to us through the means which God has chosen. The forgiveness of sins and life eternal in the Son are delivered through the waters of Holy Baptism, the bread and wine of Holy Communion and the Word as proclaimed to us by His chosen servants, our pastors.
The testimony has come to us, and we know that it is true: Jesus Christ is God and Man who died upon the cross to save us from our sins. In Him we have eternal life, forgiveness and salvation. This testimony drowns out all others so that we may receive the full Jesus, the Jesus Who died and rose for us, Who delivers to us His gifts through Word and Sacrament, and Who rules and reigns on our behalves.
Let Us Pray: Heavenly Father, You sent the Holy Spirit to give us the testimony concerning Your Son through Word and Sacrament; grant that we may ever rely on the testimony which You have given and turn away from those of the sinful world and our sinful flesh so that we may be kept in the one true faith until life everlasting; in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- This passage is the Epistle lesson assigned for the Second Sunday of Easter (Quasimodo Geniti) in the one year lectionary. You can also read devotions on the Gospel reading and the Old Testament reading for this past Sunday here at the Eurasia Blog.
- Please pray for all those who hear false testimonies of who Christ is, that they would hear the true testimony of the crucified and risen Lord that they might be saved.
- Read about Muslim converts who put away the false testimony of Jesus and put on the true Christ in the waters of Holy Baptism on Easter Monday in Leipzig, Germany.