Lord Jesus, Light of life, come in and abide in us. Amen.
Text: First John 2:4-11
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
“Darkness” is spiritual ignorance and blindness, wickedness and ungodliness and eternal bondage, anguish, and need. Saint John speaks of the darkness of ignorance and blindness, of lying and hatred, that rules in hearts in every place where Jesus Christ does not dwell. A terrible night of death came over earth when mankind fell. The knowledge and love of God was shut out of our soul, and devilish blindness and wickedness came instead. But now we hear this again in God’s Church: “Darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” What kind of light is this? Yes, what is the light other than Jesus Christ, the true God? And what is God other than love? If anyone says he has faith and grace in Jesus Christ, but lives in hatred and wickedness, he is a liar; he lives in double darkness, his thoughts make Christ’s kingdom into the devil’s kingdom. If you entrust yourself to Jesus, but are angry with your neighbor, then your condition is miserable, yes, horrible. God help you out of the darkness, before it is too late! For you walk in the darkness and don’t know where you are going. “He who does not love his brother abides in death,” the same Apostle writes in 1 John 3:14; and here: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” Can any sincere Christian read this without being humbled and confessing: “I am still so far away”? And yet, there is also comfort in the words: “I ought to walk just as He walked.” – Yes, that’s me, and it agrees with my inmost heart. It is really the old command: “You shall love one another” made new within you. Is there anyone in the whole world that you hate? “No, by Jesus’ love I pray for good to all people and cannot give up without being able to do it.” Friend, this is not darkness, but the light; God’s command: “You shall love,” becomes true in you through Jesus. You say “Yes” to this “commandment;” your knowledge and will agree with it. You keep His commandments, you are in the kingdom of light; you are in Jesus and He in you. Walk now in love, so that the light shines purer and purer, more and more beautiful, ever richer from you!
Grant us this mercy, God of love, in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lord, hear the voice of my complaint,
To Thee I now commend me,
Let not my heart and hope grow faint,
But deign Thy grace to send me.
True faith from Thee, my God, I seek,
The faith that loves Thee solely
Keeps me lowly,
And prompt to aid the weak,
And mark each word that Thou dost speak.
O grant that from my very heart
My foes be all forgiven,
Forgive my sins and heal their smart,
And grant new life from heaven.
Thy Word, that blessed food, bestow,
Which best the soul can nourish;
Make it flourish
Through all the storms of woe
That else my faith might overthrow.
Agricola: Lord, hear the voice of my complaint L 210:1.3 ELH 255:1.3 tr. C. Winkworth;
tune: Ich ruf zu dir