Saturday, August 24, 2013
Discovering More Than You Wanted
1John 5:6 ¶ This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.
1John 5:7 There are three that testify:
1John 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.
Jesus' life in the flesh provided the pathway for human transformation. Jesus experienced baptism at the hand of his cousin John the Baptist in the Jordan River. He also shed his blood on the cross when he died for our sins. The water represents purity and the blood, justification. The Holy Spirit provides a testimony, or stands by as a witness to the acts of Jesus Christ. What Jesus has done for you and for me is the very truth that the great deceiver would hope we would never come to understand. Therefore, may we stand in the power of the testimony of the three -- the Spirit, the water and the blood. They all lead to our transformation.
What an incredible promise for you and for me -- a promise of new life in Christ. However, as I dug into these scriptures this morning, I have to confess that I discovered more than I had originally wanted. Little did I know that verse seven has been especially controversial throughout the centuries. It seems that somewhere along the line someone had transcribed into that verse that it is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that are the three who testify. Now, this would have been an amazing statement to find right there in John's Epistle for the doctrine of the Trinity was not sorted out until the 4th century. Somewhere along the line as someone transcribed these early manuscripts and added what they saw as some personal clarification. That addition continued through the centuries until even the King James Version included it with verse seven saying: 1John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." Using the Word or logos language here would make this sound even more Johannine but researchers of the last few centuries who have been able to recover more original documents have discovered that this phrase was a later addition. Okay -- so that's more than you probably really wanted to know! It's more than I anticipated as I was reading and being inspired by a scripture that I felt was encouraging me to understand what Christ had truly done for me. So, now that we've completed our detour as well -- let's go back to what we do know.
God's hope and plan for each of us is to allow the work that Jesus has completed to be transformational in our own lives. Just as the Spirit is a witness to the activities of Christ and testifies to his work, so too must we, in faith, accept this truth. In the opening verse of this Epistle John wrote, "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God," and so we step into this new life by testifying that Jesus is the Son of God! By doing so we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed on the cross. Our relationship with God is again made right and restored because of the work of Christ. We are then invited into the waters of baptism -- a baptism which symbolizes the purification of humanity. When we arise from the water we rise to a new birth -- a new life that is in Jesus Christ. We have put off the old and are now cloaked in the new. And the Holy Spirit is given to us, to bear personal witness to this transformational work of God within our hearts and souls.
You see, it is these three that do agree -- the Spirit, the water and the blood -- they agree and give witness to the powerful work of Jesus Christ that is ready and able to transform you and me. Maybe I haven't discovered more than I wanted -- for deep within the words we find the same hope we found in Paul; "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection!" Not only do I want to know Christ, I want to put on Christ, and I want to experience Christ and I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit so that my life bears witness to the Truth -- to what Jesus has done for you and for me, through the water and the blood and the sending of his Holy Spirit.
Jesus, I believe in you and all you have done for me. Amen.