Summary: Our relationship with Jesus changes our relationship with one another. Parts: A. His word of truth calls for a response. B. His love shines out from us onto one another.

Text: 1 John 2:3-11

Theme: Knowing Jesus Moves Us to Love

A. His word of truth calls for a response

B. His love shines from out us onto one another

Season: Epiphany 3a

Date: January 23, 2011

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit connects us to our Savior is 1 John 2.

"By this we are sure that we know him [Jesus]: If we keep his commands. The person who says, "I know him," and doesn’t keep his commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. Whoever keeps the word of Jesus -- God’s love has truly reached its goal in him. In this we are sure that we are in him. The person who says that he remains in him is to walk [live] just as he did.

"Beloved, I am not writing a new command to you but an old command that you have had from the beginning. The old command is the word that you have heard. I write again a new command to you. It is true in him and in you, because the darkness passes away and the genuine light now shines.

"The person who says that he’s in the light and hates his brother is in the dark up until now. The person who loves his brother remains in the light and a trap isn’t in him. The person who hates his brother is in the dark, and he walks in the dark. He does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:3-11)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

How important relationships are! It’s no coincidence that Verizon markets a "Friends & Family" plan or Facebook sends out friend requests. So many of the stories that entertain us revolve around relationships, whether that’s family relations such as in Father Knows Best from the 1950’s or the relationships between the members of a crime scene investigation team as in several current TV dramas. And our own personal relationships can bring us to the height of happiness or to the brink of despair. How important relationships are!

The words the Holy Spirit gave John to write for us in the text here zero us in on our most important relationship. How well do you know Jesus? For you see, knowing Jesus moves us to love. Reflect on that theme, dear friends.

A. His word of truth calls for a response

1. What are two kinds of "knowing"?

How well do you know Jesus? John makes it clear that some who claim to know Jesus are liars. God’s truth is not in them. What about you?

Here we must distinguish between knowing about someone and knowing someone personally. For examples, fans might know a lot about Brett Favre or Joe Mauer or the Hollywood star they idolize, but they don’t know them personally, do they? The Greek of Bible times had two different words for knowing. One emphasized knowing about the information; the other personal knowledge. That’s the one used here. In the Information Age we live in you can know about anyone. But I’m not asking how much you know about Jesus. Do you know him?

2. What truth does Jesus bring?

What’s more, how can you be sure that you know him? John tells us. "By this we are sure that we know him: If we keep his commands. The person who says, ’I know him,’ and doesn’t keep his commands is a liar and the truth is not in him" (John 2:3, 4).

When we hear those words, our conscience may well jump to the Ten Commandments. Some translations pull us more so in that direction by translating: "If we obey his commands," rather than "keep." And who of us hasn’t broken all the commandments many times? Do law-breakers like us dare to claim to know Jesus?

But when we know Jesus, we know that "the law was given through Moses; [but] grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17 NIV-1984). John does not write here: "If we keep Moses’ commands," but rather "his [referring to Jesus] commands." Now Jesus did not come as a new lawgiver. His commands are not extra rules. The Ten Commandments, rightly understood, summarize all God’s moral law governing our entire heart and mind, all our words and actions. Jesus didn’t come to bring new rules; he came to bring grace and truth.

We begin to understand this word commands in this context when we look at how John explains it. In verse 5 John uses word as a synonym for command. In verse 7 he tells us point blank that the command is the word that you have heard.

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