Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
We often use John 1:1-2:2 to speak vividly about the sensory evidence of the Christian faith. John talks boldly about the content of his witness - what we have heard, seen, and handled. The years the apostles spent with Jesus were full of real, sensory experience. They got sore feet and legs with Jesus walking up from Jericho to Jerusalem. They got cold on those windy cold days. We don't have the Bible verse that says it, but Jesus, completely human, shivered and sweated.
There's no doubt about that. However, what I want to focus on today is his little, unassuming statement. We proclaim it to you.
The Gospel is passed on through eyewitnesses. This is the heart and center of the idea of Christian tradition. Tradition, after all, means literally passing something on. Trading it. God's majesty is dwelling in God the Son, Jesus. Jesus shows his majesty and glory to the apostles through what he says and does. The apostles then show others. It's apostolic tradition. One of the ways they establish this tradition is through the written word, though there are hints throughout the New Testament of sayings and acts of Jesus which didn't end up in the written Gospels.
What is the tradition John is passing on to us here? It is that Jesus, the living Word of God, the one who John could hear, see, and touch, is the one who forgives our sins.
Which sins are those? All the sins we confess, in fact, all the sins we have, period. Jesus is the one who is able to rescue us from every sin. He's the propitiation for our sins. He's the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.
Why is the tradition so important? It reminds us that we didn't make up the savior. The Christian faith is not of our own devising. It isn't a cleverly invented plan by which people can be made to toe the line and behave themselves. It is an eternal plan of God, delivered through the prophets and apostles, codified for us by eyewitnesses to the events. We can trust that it is true. The witnesses who delivered it to us are reliable.
What we receive, then, we pass on to others. Christ has come to redeem us from sin! He is the savior, not just for us, but for all sinners everywhere. His desire is that all should repent, believe, and know the mercy of God.
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