Christmas can be a bittersweet season. With family gatherings, the reminder of loved ones who have passed seem to surface. The sting of death flares up in our thoughts and minds. The great truth is it does not have to be this way. Death does not have to override what has been called the season of joy. We may reflect during the Christmas season on the lives of those who have died but our hope is in the One who can give us life, abundantly and eternally. We can rest in this hope and find this joy by looking to and trusting in the Son of God. The Apostle John declares, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (5:12). When we celebrate Christmas, we are celebrating the One who is Life and came to give His life.
In His life, Jesus Christ was revealed as the anointed Son and as the substitutionary sacrifice. At His baptism, we see He came by water. His Father anointed Him when in Matthew 3:17, “This is my beloved Son, I take delight in Him.” Jesus was not a mere man who lived a good life. Jesus was and is God the Son and God the Father sent Him to live a sinless life, the life we could not live. The Father was pleased and delighted in the Son.
At the cross, we see Jesus came by the blood. He died the death we all as sinners deserved for our rebellion against God. Because He took our sins upon Himself we can stand before God in His righteousness. His sacrifice was in our place, what we mean by substitutionary, and it was what gave us life. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, death does not have the final word. Even when we grieve over those who have died, if the person has repented of their sins and trusted in Jesus Christ, then we have a sure hope they have received eternal life and are with the Lord.
How can we know these things are so? John tells us we can know because it is God who testifies: “And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree” (5:6c–8). What we have to place our hope in is not some mere testimony of what men have conjured up. Instead, we know about the life and death of Jesus Christ because God has testified to us about it. More than that, as those who place their faith in the testimony of God we are born of God. Those who refuse to accept the testimony of God as truth will prove themselves to be liars as they falsely accuse God as a liar (5:10). Their disbelief in the testimony of God concerning Jesus Christ confirms their heart against God and their rebellion leading to death. Because they do not believe or trust in Jesus Christ, they will face eternal death. Only those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will receive eternal life because eternal life is in the Son (5:11).
One of the central themes in 1 John has been based on the person of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus Christ is not a matter to be celebrated only when the Christmas season comes around. Rather, everyday should be a celebration of His life and the life He has given us. When we deal with the loss of loved ones, we can turn to Christ and remember He died for our sins so that we could be made alive with God. For those who are in the Son, there is life.
- Why is the baptism of Christ and the cross of Christ important in understanding the person and work of Christ?
- How does knowing Jesus Christ came to give His life to give us life encourage you in the season you are in?