My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.1 John 2:1-6
Being a dad has been the single greatest challenge and the single greatest joy of my life. When I cradled my daughter in my arms for the first time, I knew that there was nothing that I wouldn’t do for her well-being, even giving up my own life. If you’re a parent you know the feeling. Naturally, when our kids drift away from what we know is good, right, and beneficial for them, we come alongside them, counsel them, and love them into maturity. In this week’s text from 1 John, John gets into what I would consider the beginning of “the dad talk” with his spiritual children. John provides wise counsel grounded in gospel truth, but with this tone of fatherly affection.
He reminds his spiritual children that if they carry the weight of regret, shame, and guilt on their shoulders, they have an advocate, a defender in Jesus Christ, pleading their case. Brothers and sisters, if you’re carrying the pain of your past on your shoulders, be encouraged today. Through the work of the cross, Jesus has already defeated all that stands between you and God–even your greatest faults and failures. Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus to plead your case, because he has already won it.
But as he continues in verses 3-6, John delves into what it means to belong to Christ, and it’s very simple. “Do what Christ says.”
How do we accomplish this? Well, we look to Christ himself:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. – John 13:5
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
The way in which we love (or fail to love) gives evidence to our belief. To put it plainly, how we love shows who we love.
If you lived in Jesus’ day your primary mode of transportation was your feet. Typically you walked for miles and miles in the hot middle-eastern sun. When you arrived at your destination, there was a household servant ready with a towel and a basin full of water to wash your feet. In John 13:5, we see Jesus taking up this task in full obedience to God the Father–he takes a towel and a basin, kneeling down to wash the dirt-caked, sun-baked feet of his disciples.
Let that sink in for a moment…
It shouldn’t surprise us that when Jesus tells his disciples to love one another, he points to himself as the exemplar of love. He has the final say on what love looks like. Jesus willingly lowers himself to this position, beautifully displaying self-giving, self-sacrificial love. Love means lowering yourself for someone else’s good. If there was no task beneath Jesus, there should be no task beneath us. We have the joy and the honor of living a life in step with the Holy Spirit and in loving service to those he puts in front of us. This is what “keeping his commandments” looks like.
Grace & Peace,
Pastor Mike Wrigglesworth