1 John – Keep the Crucifixion
From the Series: Certainty – Absolute Truths That Bring Joyful Assurance
BY MAX FERNANDEZ
If there were one part of Christianity that we would be tempted to remove, humanly speaking, it would be the crucifixion. It is gruesome, barbaric, and counterintuitive. The crucifixion is the death of the One we call God in the flesh. Yet, this is precisely what John is making sure is NOT removed. The word “blood” used in 1 John 5:6-8 is a reference to the death of Jesus Christ, whereby He shed his blood for the atonement of sin. But why would John want to make sure that this not only stays in the Christian message but is central to it?
THE SPIRIT HAS WITNESSED TO THE JESUS OF THE CROSS (1 John 5:6)
This is not new to the writings of John. The Spirit of God had witnessed to who Jesus was at Jesus’ baptism (John 1:29-33).
THE SPIRIT IS IN AGREEMENT WITH HEAVEN AND EARTH (1 John 5:7-8)
The importance of these verses lies in what John is trying to get across — that God has become flesh and has been attested to by both baptism and the crucifixion. There is agreement between Heaven and Earth in One Person — Jesus.
THE SON IS GOD’S APPOINTED MEANS FOR ETERNAL LIFE (1 John 5:9-12)
This is really the summarizing point here — that this is God’s record. God has testified Who the Son is, and God has provided eternal life through the Son. God has authenticated this crucified Jesus as His Son through whom there is eternal life.
In spite of what John says, there are reasons why removing the crucifixion might be tempting:
- FOR THE JEWISH, THE CRUCIFIXION DOES NOT ALIGN WITH THE KIND OF MESSIAH THEY ANTICIPATED.
By implication, these disciples saw the crucifixion as contrary to God’s plan of redemption (Luke 24:21). What does the crucifixion do to the Jewish expectation? It turns upside down any idea we have about ethnic or racial superiority. Whatever our expectation may be, it is upended by the Cross.
We might think that we are more civilized, have a better pedigree, have better blood running through our veins, have a greater history, have a greater nation. But at the Cross, the One Who had the better everything was crucified. So where does that leave our expectations?
- FOR THE GENTILE, THE CRUCIFIXION OF A DEITY DOES NOT ALIGN WITH THE GENERAL STANDARD FOR DEITIES (I Corinthians 1:23).
What does the Cross do to our idea of strength and power? The Cross turns it completely upon its head. The Cross confirms that the greatest in the kingdom will be the least, even as the Son of Man came to GIVE his life a ransom. The Cross confirms that strength actually comes through weakness — that life comes through death — that healing comes through hurting, etc.
- FOR THE GNOSTIC OR DOCETISTS OF THIS TIME, IT IS INCONCEIVABLE THAT GOD WOULD TAKE ON AN EVIL MATERIAL BODY, LET ALONE DIE.
What does the Cross do to our idea of a conceivable God? The Cross turns this idea on its head. The Cross grips our attention. If there were ever anyone worthy of self-discovery, it is the One who hung on the Cross; yet He lived for the will of another, confessed to the true God, and declared all other lesser gods false through his Resurrection.
The crucifixion of Jesus confirms Jesus’ humanity, confirms Jesus’ deity (He’s God), and brings eternal life. He was raised (Acts 10:38-40), accepted by the Father, and is eternally sufficient (Hebrews 7:22-25).
How do we avoid editing out the Cross?
- We must receive it as the record of God — 1 John 5:9 (by faith)
- We must have memorable creeds to guard against its denial — 1 John 5:6, 8
- We must recognize what our response is saying about God — 1 John 5:10
- We must consider our lives (emotions, decisions…etc.) through the Cross ethic — Galatians 2:20 (by the faith of the Son of God)
In the end, we must keep the crucifixion. It must not be edited out. It is through the Cross that we obtain life. When our hearts maintain a perspective of the Cross, we are given assurance that Jesus is the Son of God, and that we absolutely have eternal life in Him. The message of the crucifixion is eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the end, we must keep the crucifixion. It must not be edited out. It is through the Cross that we obtain life.
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