2nd Sunday of Easter – B LSB #474
Text – 1 John 1:7
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, & the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
WALKING IN THE LIGHT
“And when the 6th hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the 9th hour.” (Mark 15:33 ESV) Hopefully those words still sound familiar. I know it’s the season of Easter, but we shouldn’t forget, or dismiss, Good Friday so quickly. For three hours, on that afternoon, darkness hovered & brooded over the whole land.
There is so much darkness in our world today, yet it’s a different type of darkness than that which gathered about the cross of Golgotha that Friday afternoon. The darkness of Good Friday was an expectant one. Evil was hoping to see the demise of God’s only-begotten Son.
Its hopes were crushed on Easter morning. The darkness we have in our world is a vengeful sort. It’s already lost the battle for eternity. Out of spite & hatred it seeks nothing more than to destroy as much of our heavenly Father’s creation as possible.
After the fall into sin, of Adam & Eve, the word darkness appears throughout Holy Scripture, front to back, portending either judgment or evil. In today’s reading from the book of 1st John, attention is turned to the reality of sin in the lives of God’s children. Sin, sadness & sorrow punctuate our times. They perforate our peace. They pound our hopes & our dreams.
Yet, “…if we walk in the light… we have fellowship with one another, & the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Walking in the light then is God’s answer for our troubles. It’s our Lord’s answer for the darkness we experience. Walking in the light repairs & restores our relationships with each other, while our guilt & shame is washed away.
Those seem like pretty miraculous results, but our lives so often do not feel miraculous.
Instead, in spite of being forgiven, our lives are too frequently beat down by the darkness of life in this broken world. What you need to realize is that your feelings are not a reflection of the true reality. Your feelings are twisted by the same corrupting influence that caused Satan to rebel against God.
In the “tolerant” culture in which we live, people like to think that everyone can have their own truth. Such thinking is totally irrational, because if everyone did, absolutely nothing could be real. In other words, if you are not a truth in my world, then you cease to exist?
The only way you can make everyone’s truth real is to redefine truth as something that is not the truth. In the old days, that was referred to as a lie. However, God does not leave His children living a lie, so in the Bible He makes it clear where truth comes from. St. John wrote of Jesus as the Son of God was praying to His heavenly Father:
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” (John 17:17 ESV) In the 1st chapter of John, the Apostle wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God, & the Word was God.” (John 1:1 ESV) So if God’s Word is truth, & that Word is God, then God is truth. You may remember Jesus saying something to that effect.
As a result, to say we can all have our own truth is to believe & to act as if we are god. In case you aren’t connecting the dots that is a lie. To claim that everyone can have their own truth is to claim that we can establish reality. Unfortunately, sin is a reality. Adam & Eve did establish that. Apart from Christ, You & I too are only capable of establishing sin & darkness.
God created light. Our only hope for doing good is to walk in it. We cannot create holiness. We can’t create any sort of good reality without the power of our heavenly Father working through us. And what amazing grace it is that our heavenly Father wants to do exactly that – work through us to bring good reality into this broken world. In fact, Easter morning is the beginning of that new & eternal reality. As the Word of God says, “…in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21 ESV)
Adam brought sin & death into our world. Jesus brings, “…life & immortality to light through the gospel…” (2 Timothy 1:10 ESV) Jesus is the first human being to die & be raised from the dead – never to die again. We could say that for human beings, & for all creation, heaven actually begins with Easter morning. Jesus’ resurrection was the 1st act of the new creation.
As children of God, we already have eternal life here & now. Walking in the light is how you & I participate in that new creation already today. That is a pretty miraculous thing, yet our lives so often feel anything but miraculous, even when we are walking in the light, which is certainly not always the case. Good Friday is past. Easter has arrived, but darkness hasn’t left.
The Apostle, in the 1st chapter of 1st John, is writing to his fellow believers about the struggle of living as a Christian in this sinful world. Living in the light of Christ is to call oneself a Christian. Walking in the light of Christ is to actually be a child of God. Walking in the light is what God’s children do.
So what is walking in the light? It could be summarized as – receiving the faith created in us by God’s Holy Spirit. You could say that walking in the light is making our lives one of continual repentance. To walk in the light is to turn away from sin & to trust in the good news that Jesus does save sinners.
Turning from sin & putting your trust in Jesus is not a one-time moment of conversion thing, but is the daily substance of Christianity. The good news of the Gospel is for every day & for every moment. Repentance is to be the continual posture of each of God’s children. That posture of repentance is all about turning to our Lord in humility. Satan’s entire plan involves one of two things. Either, he encourages us to reject humility if we are still facing our Lord, or, he deceives us into turning away from our Lord all together. To claim that we can have our own truth, apart from Christ, is an example of a lack of humility. To deny our sin, in any way, is an example of turning away from our Lord all together.
Walking in the light, on the other hand, is first & foremost about turning towards Jesus in humility. Unless our posture, in regard to our Lord, is one of a repentant heart, nothing that we attempt to do for Him will be pleasing to God.
A lot of Christian churches spend incredible amounts of time in teaching their people all the different steps to being good parents, or good spouses, or good children, in other words – how to live god-pleasing lives. Yet, many either neglect, or take for granted, the primary & foremost activity each child of God needs to put into daily practice – turning to Jesus in humility.
Walking in the light seems like the easiest thing in the world to do. “Oh, I already believe in Jesus. Now I’m going to conquer the world for Him.” Many a Christian’s faith has died in thoughts, words & deeds similar to those.
Do you remember these words from Matthew 26: “Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!’ And all the disciples said the same.” Thirty-nine verses later, St. Matthew writes, “Then [Peter] began to invoke a curse on himself & to swear, ‘I do not know the man.’ And immediately the rooster crowed.”
In the verse immediately following, we’re told, “And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ And [Peter] went out & wept bitterly.” It is a sad, crushing & yet moving event in the life of Peter. We know from later events that it was a moment when Peter realized he needed to get back to walking in the light.
So he did, & Peter continued as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. Judas also was
confronted with the realization that he had fallen away from walking in the light. Christ offered him the gift of a repentant heart, but sadly, Judas’ pride would not allow the attitude of humility to enter his heart.
Instead, Judas chose the way of darkness. In doing so, he cut himself off from fellowship with other children of God, & he rejected the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. His sins were forgiven, but Judas was unwilling to accept the mercy & grace of His Savior to believe that good news.
There are literally billions of electronic communications going all around the world each day. Yet, research is showing that people feel more disconnected than ever. They have little sense of value, or of belonging. If you believe in God, the sermon text tells us part of the problem, if not the whole problem. It is the failure of people to walk in the light of Christ.
That is what’s leaving so many people feeling disconnected, cut off & all alone. They’re not allowing their Lord & Savior to create the fellowship they so desperately seek, & which they were created for. A vengeful darkness is hovering & brooding over their heart & soul. It’s like a lion seeking to devour them, but they no longer hear the roar.
In John’s day, there were many false teachers in the church, who were very spiritual & religious men. John wrote this letter to warn the people in the Christian Church of the danger. Things are very similar today with the number of false teachers who are active in our culture, & in what appear to be Christian churches.
Our task, especially in this dangerous time is simply to walk in the light by confessing our sins & receiving the forgiveness & cleanness that Jesus offers to us in His blood. If we remain connected to the Vine He will bear fruit in our lives. Let us humbly turn back to Jesus, & Him alone, once again. There we will find light & rest for our heart & soul. Amen.
Walking the way, Christ in the center telling the story to open our eyes; breaking our bread, giving us glory: Jesus our blessing, our constant surprise. Jesus the Vine, we are the branches; life in the Spirit the fruit of the tree, heaven to earth, Christ to the people, gift of the future now flowing to me. Weeping, be gone; sorrow be silent: death put asunder, & Easter is bright. Cherubim sing: “O grave, be open!” Clothe us in wonder, adorn us in light. Jesus is risen & we shall arise: Give God the glory! Alleluia! Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet