Sermon 15-4-19

Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 3: 13 to 19 / 1. John 2: 1 to 5 / Luke 24: 35 to 48 / Psalm 3

Today’s readings all concern themselves with witnessing the resurrection and the power of God. They are assurances of our faith. Therefore:

Acts 3: 19: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

So let us look at the second reading for today, a reading which concerns itself with sin and God’s commandments.

1. John 2: 1 to 5:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the atonement for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

John addressed us as ‘My little children’ and that is of course reminiscent of the words of Jesus himself, when his disciples rebuked those who brought little children to him so that he might touch them:

Luke 18: 16 & 17:But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.’

Are we like that? Can we receive the Kingdom Of God as a little child, unquestioning, innocent, full of love for everything, oblivious of the knowledge of good and evil?

John wrote us this letter that we sin not. Jesus said:

Luke 17: 1:It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!’

The word for ‘offence’ here is skandalon, the trigger of a trap, sometimes translated as stumbling block. John, however, wrote about hamartanein, meaning to miss. This is what Teucer did in the Iliad when he shot an arrow at Hector, or what Diomedes did on purpose when he took Dolon, the Troian spy alive.

So what could we be missing?

1. John 2: 7: ‘Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.’

What have we heard from the beginning? The very first commandment which God spake to mankind was:

Gen. 1: 28:Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.’

Now could that really be it? John began this epistle:

1. John 1: 1 & 2: ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; For the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us.’

Why did John write to us about this?

1. John 1: 4:And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.’

So what is John suggesting?

1. John 2: 10:He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

What about the sister? Well have a look at 2. John. Could this be a love letter?

Light is a recurring topic in John’s writings:

Gospel of John 1: 1 to 5:In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.’

This again bears the semblance of a creation account and according to 1. John 1: 2 thorugh this eternal life was manifested (unto) us. So this commandment from the beginning, which grants mankind eternal life, we are not to neglect! There is a chapter called ‘Eternal Life’ in Greetings From Paradise!

Love is an active act, not a feeling overwhelming us by coincidence. Therefore:

1. John 2: 10:He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

1. John 2: 11:But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.’

So the sin John wrote about here is an omission! Be Active in your Love! Go to the person you find most difficult to love and say something nice.

To finish let us just look at one more famous incidence related to the word ‘sin’. It is the word trespass in the Lord’s Prayer. In Luke it says,

Luke 11: 4:And forgive us our sins (hamartia); for we also forgive every one that is indebted (opheilein, see below) to us. …’

However, Matthew reported:

Mat. 6: 12:And forgive us our debts (opheilema), as we forgive our debtors (opheletes).’

Could this debt be due benevolence acording to 1. Cor. 7: 3 or is this about money? It says:

1. Cor. 7: 3:Let the man render unto the woman due benevolence: and likewise also the woman unto the man.’

It does not say husband or wife in this verse. The Greek words for husband and wife do not occur in the New Testament. It just says man and woman. Further there is no possessive pronoun. It does not say his woman or her man!