1 John 2:1-2, Jesus the Righteous
“My little children…” Upon reading this passage, it is clear that John is writing to the Church with fatherly care. He loves those to whom he writes. One cannot and should not attempt to give instruction without love and a regular reminder of the good news out of which that instruction and correction come.
“I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin…” John doesn’t desire that any of his audience fall into the trap of sin. Sin is an affront to God. A violation of God’s fatherly love for us through Christ. Sin is, in short, not the way it is supposed to be, and will only lead to despair.
“But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous…” An advocate. Jesus pleads to the Father on our behalf. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” Even when we know what we are doing, if we confess our sins, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Propiation. A powerful word. But what does it mean? Propitiation has to do with turning away the wrath of God. In our modern Christian circles, we would prefer to talk about God without acknowledging his wrath. And to be sure, God isgracious and merciful, loving and kind,but we must not mistake his kindness for softness. God is not soft on sin. Sin elicits God’s wrath, and it’s that wrath that we deserve. But God being the God of steadfast love – a covenant making, covenant keeping God – does not wish that any of us should perish under his wrath. And so, he turns the full measure of his wrath on his Son, our advocate, Jesus, because only Jesus the righteous can withstand God’s wrath. Only Jesus the righteous can atone for our sin, once and for all. Jesus, has done what we cannot do and has turned the wrath of God away from us and taken it upon himself! His victory over the grave serves as a reminder that not even God’s holy wrath can keep him down!
All of this is exceedingly good news! Jesus does what we cannot by putting us right with the Father and constantly interceding for us. He is our listening ear and our mouthpiece. God listens to us because he listens to his Son.
I am reminded of David’s contrite confession in Psalm 51 after he took another man’s wife for himself, had a son by her, and attempted to cover it up by having her husband, a righteous and honorable man, killed in battle. David cried out to God, “Hide your face from my sins. Blot out my iniquity.” He was appealing to God’s mercy, even when he had not a leg to stand on, and God was merciful. You and I don’t have a leg to stand on apart from the finished work of Christ on our behalf. But, thanks be to God that he has sent Jesus the righteous to become sin for us, turning away the Father’s wrath so that our iniquities are blotted from our record allowing us to stand as righteous before him now and on the last day.
With a sincere and humble heart, I long and hope for the day when sin will no longer be a reality for you and me. I’m tired of it, but probably not as tired of it as I should be. Until that day, we live and walk by faith, praying for God to deliver us from temptation and sin, calling on Jesus, our advocate and living in the light of his victory. Amen.