3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. It is an interesting place to begin our discussion of victory – the keeping of God’s commandments. Not only does it go against the very grain of our Lutheran heart to put victory and the Law together, but the world tempts us to think of our Lord’s commandments as nothing but a burden, too hard and too heavy to bear. We are poor miserable sinners, in every thought word and deed! As hard as we try we always seem to fail. Some weeks seem cruelly stacked against us right from Monday morning and nothing we do seems to make it better. The world often seems too much for us to survive much less overcome! The harsh reality of life – even for us Christians … and now especially for us Christians – is often testified to in our blood, sweat, and tears.
Sometimes events will leave us feeling like life has taken away all our joy, and would take even more if permitted. Sometimes we are pounded down again and again with the realization that there is so much hatred and unrest in the world and much of it is leveled straight at you and me. Christians sometimes get the idea that it can’t really be true that God is love. Otherwise things would be better wouldn’t they? Or perhaps that the love of God is only for others but not for us. Otherwise things should be better, shouldn’t they?
Yes, we Children of God may not often feel like conquerors but thankfully, overcoming the world does not depend on feelings or even experiences but on our faith. St. John states it this way: 1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and … 4everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
Easter proves that our Lord Jesus has overcome the world for us. His resurrection from the dead pretty much says it all! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! He has fulfilled all of God’s commandments for us. He has taken our condemnation under the Law. He has paid the price we never could, and God the Father has accepted it on our behalf. That is why His commandments are no longer burdensome – our salvation no longer depends on our keeping them. His yoke is easy and the burden light because in Him we have already won. There is nothing left to prove. Nothing to earn or lose. Our place in heaven is assured, even when we are not so sure of ourselves. Jesus made himself our brother that through Him we might be the children of His Father and part of that great loving family. We no longer act out of fear or frustration, but out of love and thanksgiving.
In all the trials and troubles of this broken world and life we Children of God are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us. Christianity guarantees victory in advance. It happens the moment you are baptized. Before you have anything to give or anything to prove. It happens in the promise of the water and the Spirit. A promise that nothing can take you out of the hands of Jesus. Let the world rage, let the plotters plot, let the past week drag us through blood and sweat and tears, or the week ahead promise only more of the same. We children of God are victorious. The real crisis already lies behind you and only victory lies ahead.
5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 6This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood.
The water and the blood both flowed down the cross from his pierced side, as salvation was accomplished and the victory over sin and the devil played out. They are the signs of divine victory even in the face of the worst that this life can throw at us. When Jesus cried out “It is Finished” that victory was accomplished. He then sealed it in blood and water.
But it is a victory for us that reaches back before the cross. Water and blood should also be seen as pointing to Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion. By being baptized He fulfilled all righteousness, thereby making God’s commandments no longer burdensome. By being baptized He connected His life and work to yours. By His crucifixion He atoned for the sins of the world – for your sins and mine. By being crucified He turned seeming defeat into everlasting victory, making us fellow victors with Him.
And He who once came in water and blood comes even now in the holy water of our Baptism and in the precious blood of His Holy supper. He comes to us even now, especially now, to remind us that regardless of what life may look like, or what our hearts may feel like we are more than conquerors in Him. He comes in the water and the blood (the Means of Grace) to testify to our ongoing victory over sin death and the devil by our God-given faith in Christ.
6And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify: 8the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
And this is the Truth – Easter means victory over death. No matter how bad things get now, one day they will be made perfect. But the Christian already has victory in life. We are Children of God and that means we have been forgiven, purified, loved, and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. So even though we suffer now, we are promised that one day we will leave it all behind for the glories of heaven are already ours in Jesus. It is not our blood, sweat or tears that accomplish anything, but the blood, the sweat and the very tears of Jesus that bring salvation. Without faith in Christ there is no victory but with the promises of God in Jesus there can be no failing. For Children of God are … Victorious!