1 John 2 – Loving the Other

Read 1 John 2

Echoing Jesus’ words and directives to love, John writes here encouraging his readers to show love to each other.  He even goes so far as to say that those who don’t love their brother, a word which we could exchange readily with the word “neighbor”, do not have Christ in them.  While this may not seem like a dramatic statement, but when we look at these words in combination with chapter one, John is essentially saying that those who don’t love others are the same as those walking in darkness, they have not encountered God.

Indeed, John writes in his Gospel that Jesus says the world will know we are His disciples by our love.  This comes in sharp contrast to how many Christian denominations act today, defining themselves not by the love that they show to those around them, but by the high towers of theology they have built for themselves.  Far too often, our “doctrines” and “theology” create an interpretation of Scripture that divides rather than bids of to love.

There is, however, a limit to the love that we are to show as well.  While loving our neighbor is an essential part of the Christian life, loving the world is not.  In fact, loving the world actually brings the same determination as those who do not love at all: they do not have Christ in them.

Loving the world means loving the things of this world more that God.  John lists these things as bring primarily related to lust and pride, out of which I’m sure we could track most of the common sins of our lives.

Finally, John talks very intentionally about what it means to deny Jesus.  For John this might have been a very personal thing for him to say, remembering Peter’s denial of Jesus and recording the reinstatement of Peter in his Gospel.  He encourages his readers to remain faithful, reminding them that their calling and anointing comes from God alone and cannot be changed, even by their own actions.  This is an important reminder of Christian identity, something that has implications to everyone who believes.

John 18 – Denial

Read John 18

The narratives of the denial of Simon Peter, arguably the “second in command” of Jesus’ disciples, is one that gets little fanfare in the Synoptic Gospels.  Though Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the event, it passes by with no comment and ends with the bitter weeping of Peter when the rooster crows.  It is clear that Peter knows what He has done, the depths to which he has fallen.

There is a purpose for Peter’s threefold denial, though, and it is not just because people wanted to make sure that he meant it the first two times.  In the Semitic language, the way that emotion is truly expressed is through the repetition of words.  When someone says something more than once, it means that there was some passion or emotion behind it.

Think about the narrative of Jesus with Mary and Martha.  Mary is sitting and listening to Jesus while Martha is busy doing housework.  When she confronts Jesus he says, “Martha, Martha.”  There was emotion in Jesus’ voice when He spoke to her.

Another example would be the vision of Isaiah.  The angels around the throne don’t just call God holy, He is Holy, Holy, Holy!  This threefold acclamation of God’s holiness, for the reader, means God is truly holy.

So what about Peter?  Well, the triple denial that He gives communicates the depth of his own self-interest and hypocrisy.  “I will lay down my life for you,” Peter had said only hours earlier.  And now, he is truly alone.  A denial like this would have cost him his position among the disciples and any status he had with the one he followed.

Yet, in John’s Gospel, this isn’t the end of the narrative because there is grace, even for someone as stubborn as Simon Peter.