My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. —1 John 2:1-2 NASB
The first thing that leaps out at me from these two verses is the accountability and love that John has for those whom he is writing. It puts me in mind of how I call my son ‘my little man’ and if I am blessed to see his children, how I will probably call them ‘my little children,’ too. It’s something that is easy for me to see when looking at my kid. But, the fact that John is writing directly to these believers who are not his actual kids so that they may not sin shows how much he cares.
The second thing that jumps out at me is that he also knew they were human. He tells them that if they sin, they have Jesus Christ. Jesus is the ultimate advocate and Who better to do the advocating than the One who paid it all? He is the propitiation, the atonement, the very sacrifice that turned away God’s wrath from them! And not just for them but for the whole world—that is: anyone who believes that Jesus is Lord! That means us, too. Nearly two millennia down the road, we are human, and if we believe in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ then He is our propitiation, too!!
These thoughts are pretty straightforward, but something else hit me as I looked at these. We are into chapter two and what is missing? John’s spin on his own merits to even be able to write a letter in the first place! Imagine if John had written these same two verses, not with the: this-is-the-truth-as-we-saw-it vibe but rather with the pride and the sense of accomplishment that came with his having been the Beloved Apostle? He had been with Jesus. He ate with Jesus. He and Jesus did life together. He got exiled for Jesus. Boiled with oil for Jesus. So, John’s got all of that behind the weight of his pen and he’s writing this letter with affection, accountability and the genuine understanding that Jesus is our Advocate and the propitiation for our sins! Not to glorify himself but to glorify what Christ can do within us!
This realization does two things in me. The first thing is that it further humbles me because nobody can boast about anything more than an actual Apostle who wrote a Gospel, three letters and Revelation under the inspiration of God. Yet, he just points to Christ. No matter what my GPA at school is, no matter how I graduate, no matter if I go on to Seminary, no matter if I get involved in church ministry after I graduate or choose to get involved with a local non-profit, no matter—all I have ever achieved that is good are as filthy rags in the sight of God and I am only redeemed by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. Period.
The second thing is that it deepens my gratitude for the Advocate, and for the propitiation of my personal, jacked-up, laundry list of sin, paid by Christ Jesus, my Lord, because I could have died several times having not truly been saved. Further, when and where I have faltered, stumbled and gone the wrong way, I am very grateful that the One that paid it all for me, the One that took that scourge to the back and hung on that cross is the One advocating for me with the Father and nobody else. That He saw it fit to afford me grace, mercy and the opportunity to repent shows me something this world cannot, His truth and love! That last part is huge, because sometimes, we, as humans, like to think we can do things for God that somehow He can't. Be it win His favor with our "good" works, like my GPA. Or, if we are not careful some of us can even get so puffed up that we think we can do His job for Him, condemning others and judging them based on what we think. But, only He took that beating for us, bled for us and hung for us on Golgotha. He is the only One that could do the things that needed to be done to ensure our salvation, which are those same things that John is writing about!
But, what about you? How does it make you feel to know that the very One that suffered in your place, is also the One that stands up on your behalf and defends you? Does thinking about what John lived out make you look at your own life different? Have you thanked Jesus recently for every lash and hammered nail that He suffered so that you may have life eternal? Maybe we should.
Until Next Time