Days Gone By (part 2 of 3)
1 John 2:1-11
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.
Scratching his chin, John chided himself, “Maybe if I had the eloquence of Peter, or even of Paul (!), it would come across less harsh.” Yet he remembered the very words of the Lord himself, If anyone does not hate his own family, he cannot be my disciple. Jesus had spoken those words to a large crowd that was following Him, and John was recalling the waxing (and then waning) popularity of Jesus. He remembered the little boy by the shore with the small lunch that fed tens of thousands. “Oh how faithless we were!” he said aloud. And he remembered how after that event the crowds swelled, and the Lord chastised them (“and us,” he mumbled) for not understanding the spiritual sign that was intended in that great event. His brain jerked into sharp focus at that memory as he remembered, “That was the moment. That was when many, many people made the decision to no longer follow. I wonder now what has happened with them.”
He also recalled the curious appearance of the Sanhedrin member—curious for many reasons. One, because the Sanhedrin was already showing concern over Jesus. Two, because an official appearance would typically have been made by more than one of them. And three, because it was at night. “What was his name . . . Nicodemus! That’s it!” John recounted in his mind the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. He smiled at the thought of Jesus calmly and lovingly—but firmly—admonishing Nicodemus for his lack of understanding. Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?! John quoted aloud—and a bit too loudly because the playing near his window stopped, and the little ones laughed as they realized the old man was having a conversation with himself. John laughed, too, as he waved them back to their games. Returning to that night with Nicodemus, John remembered clearly the words Jesus spoke—and he remembered the intensity in Jesus’s voice. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Almost seventy years later, he could still hear the voice of the Lord. John wept openly at the remembrance, and at the power of the message. Going to the far side of the room he grabbed a cloth to clean his face. After a few moments, he began to write again:
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.