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3:16.8 The Power of Love (1 John 3:16), part 2
One of the most powerful messages of love I have ever seen has been a picture of Jesus on a cross, with the caption beneath declaring: “Jesus said ‘I loved you this much.’ Then He stretched out His arms and died.”
As I have mentioned earlier in this series, the books making up our Bible haven’t always had chapter and verse divisions. Somewhere during the middle ages, someone realized it would be easier to study the Bible if it was divided in a way that people could locate specific section of any book. I’m not sure if it’s a quirk, or if God deliberately led the people who originally put chapter and verse divisions into the Bible - but I John 3:16 is almost a mirror image of our beloved John 3:16.
Here in our 316 for this week: In I John 3:16, John declares, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” Remember – “For God so LOVED the world”?? Well, this is how we KNOW God’s kind of love: “Jesus Christ laid down His life for us…”
But then the Holy Spirit prompts the Apostle John to add a little phrase: “…we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Why should we lay down our lives for our brothers? BECAUSE Jesus laid down His life for us! Now, this is obviously an important point for John, because, he dwells on this subject for several verses; but some will wonder why? Why is this so important??
It’s important to John because, the truth of the matter is, that’s not how you and I used to live. LOOK AGAIN, with me at 1 John 3:12 “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.” Why would John warn us NOT to be like Cain?? Because, before we came to know Christ and experienced His forgiveness by faith through grace, we used to be like Cain. That’s the type of world we grew up in. That’s the kind of example that others set for us. That was the kind of response that would have come naturally to us.
The Apostle Paul writes to his friend, Titus, and tells him this in Titus 3:3-5, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” ESV.
Initially, when I read that passage from Titus, I visualized the kind of person that I have seen on a few of the afternoon talk shows, while I’m running on the treadmill. You know, the type of person who’s always screaming, always accusing, always concerned only about themselves, always eager to get into a brawl in front of God and everybody. But thankfully none of you are like that! I have yet to see any of you behave like that in the hallways or entry area on a Sunday morning. In fact, when I go down to HyVee to buy groceries, I never see any of you there yelling and screaming in the aisles. So, most people, thankfully, aren’t like the specimens they parade before us on those crazy shows.
However, I believe as the Apostle Paul told Titus, we do have a tendency to be like Cain. As that passage from the letter to Titus says: We lived “in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” That means that this is a common experience for ALL of us.
The Apostle John uses the example of Cain, because, Cain was a “slow burn” type of a guy. God said to Cain: “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” in Genesis 4:6. Cain hadn’t said ANYTHING, but you could tell how Cain felt by just looking at him. Cain didn’t say much, but eventually his anger built, until he killed his brother.
Medication: A Merry Heart
A farmer who grew watermelons was doing pretty well, but some local kids began to sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons.
The farmer came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare the kids away for sure. He made up a sign and posted it in the field:
“Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide.” That night the kids saw the sign and they ran off to plot revenge.
Next morning there were no watermelons missing, but a new sign said: “Now there are two!”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
Verse of the Week: Exodus 20:7
Today’s readings: Proverbs 7 – 9