Summary: How do you respond to the sacrifice of Jesus? Do you ignore him? Do you try to live with him but justify your sin at the same time? Or are you a disciple of Jesus?
For the last few Sundays we've been walking through the book of First John. We imagined a courtroom scene and the apostle John is on the witness stand under oath. He's the last apostle of Jesus alive and he was the best friend of Jesus, too. He knows Jesus better than anyone, so who better to answer this question? "Who is Jesus?" John answers that Jesus is the Son of God and that eternal life is found only in Him.
Obviously we can't just take the word of a guy who says he's an apostle of Jesus. There were those who were false teachers during John's day who claimed that they were apostles, too, just like John. There were others who claimed that Jesus wasn't really human, he didn't really suffer and die as a human being. So how do we know that John is a credible witness and that what he says is true? First he tells us exactly who Jesus is, and second he tells us that those who know God obey Him. But is this enough? For many folks John hasn't provided enough proof. Where is the proof that Jesus is the Son of God and that John is believable?
So last Sunday we asked John to prove it. This is John's response in chapter three, "We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us." The burning question in the courtroom now is "Why?" "Why did Jesus feel like he had to do this?" "If God is so powerful that he can create all of the universes with a breath then why did he force Jesus to go through such a terrible ordeal?" Maybe you want an answer to this question. So in the courtroom with John on the witness stand we ask, "Why, John?" "Why did it have to be this way for Jesus?"
John tells us, "God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins." Last week we discussed that Jesus proved who he is and showed us what love is by sacrificing himself on the cross. John's testimony is that this sacrifice had to be made by Jesus to "take away our sins."
The answer to "Why?" is very simple. "Because he loves us." He loves you.
John teaches us through his testimony that Jesus had to make the sacrifice to take away our sins. We might want to argue with God and demand that he should have figured out another way, but, I'm pretty sure if there was one, God would've taken it. The Hebrew writer puts it this way, "...But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice. And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him." This is why Jesus made the sacrifice. You need the redemption he offers.
Jesus tells you he loves you. He made the sacrifice for you. Jesus makes a proposal. You have an opportunity to live eternally with God in his place. What is your response? Have you ever put a puzzle together just to discover that the last piece is missing? Is a puzzle complete unless every piece is put in its place? John tells us in his testimony, "if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us." "If." That word happens a lot in the New Testament. Think of that word as the piece of a puzzle. For example, Jesus said, "If any of you wants to be my follower..." In other words there is a decision on our part we need to make. A response.
The idea behind the phrase, "his love is brought to full expression in us" is like a completed puzzle. A completed work. Jesus put it this way, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind." The complete picture. "If". This word is a conditional clause which means that anything that follows this word involves a choice.
There are three ways to respond to Jesus.
One way that people respond to the proposal of Jesus is to ignore him. They don't believe the testimony of John or the rest of the Bible and they don't want anything to do with him. In this way they dump him. They don't want anything to do with the relationship. Jesus calls people who respond this way, "lost."