1 John 1:5 - 2:2 (Easter 3 - 2018)
“Easter Keys from Christ”
Keys are useful things. Who of us does not make certain we have that needed set with us: the car, the house, the office. Now we use key cards, key fobs, number sequences, and ID cards with barcodes. Still you need the right key for the right thing. My cars keys don’t open my office and my office fob won’t start my car.
Luther included in his small catechism an entire section on understanding the Ministry of Keys and Confession. He includes oodles of passages, most from Christ Jesus himself on the subject of confession, repentance, forgiveness and the ministry of the church. In this Easter season it makes sense that the preaching of repentance and forgiveness gets a highlight. It is the topic of Jesus’s first conversation with his disciples in the locked room after his resurrection. It is the theme of his commissioning them to be his witnesses. It is the point of the Church in view of a resurrected Christ.
Locking Up Darkness
Darkness is where sinful things most often take place. Jesus told Nicodemus: “men have loved the darkness instead of the light for their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19) I sin most often and most easily when I am alone. The second easiest place to sin is when I am with those who like to do my favorite sins. When I am with darkness of my own temptations or the with the approval of others, the devil has his way in that darkness and loves to lock us up there.
The Bible even says, “It is shameful even to speak of the things they do in secret” (Ephesians 5: 12). How many sins do you know have the connotation of being “done in a closet” or in secret? Sins of the heart and mind - like greed, lust, and sloth - can be ‘hidden’ in darkness because they seem so intangible. Addictions, and other sins of habit and choice, tend be carried in darkness where the sinner thinks he can’t be found out or harm anyone else. The law key opens that closet.
Light Points that out (John 3: 20) Jesus sheds his light to scatter the darkness. He appeared to shed light on the darkness of his day. He also appeared to be the Light of the World. Jesus told Nicodemus: “Light has come into the world … everyone who lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be plainly seen that what he has done has been done by God.” Christ is that Light. We have seen and heard his ministry. It was a ministry that exposed the darkness. Jesus called people out. The Words of Jesus call us out. The truth of the Light of Christ necessarily locks up my darkness of sin and brings me to light. The truth key opens that door.The gospel key ignites the power of that engine.
“When we walk in the Light as he is in the Light we have fellowship with God.” Walking with the Word means walking with Christ. When walk with Christ we walk with others in Light. That is why it so good to have a fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ who look out for one another, who make plans to be around each other frequently, who gather around the Word and the sacraments frequently. I tend to win against temptation when Christ, and his Word, and the band of believers are with with me.
Walking with Christ and with others who believe in Christ unlocks the truth and locks up darkness. He locks up guilt with his blood of forgiving love. He scatters unbelief. He scatters temptation and pressure to sin. He empowers us with his grace and truth. He lives within our hearts to walk in his light. The gospel key opens those rooms with light and ignites the engines of truth.
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and light for my path. Psalm 119 (the Word)
Opening Up Truth
Truth in Confession (1 John 1:8, 10)
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us ... if we claim to be without sins make God out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” Honesty with myself begins with the Word. Unlock the closet sins! Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Honesty with myself ends with confession of truth. If we run back to the secret closets of our sins we are only deceiving ourselves. We think we are fooling everyone else, but we are not. If we deceive ourselves we have no part with a God of truth either. “Our sins separate us from God” (Isaiah 59: 2), because sins have to do with falsehood and God is a God of truth. The truth key unlocks the way to our hearts.
Truth in God’s Faithful Absolution (1 John 1: 7, 9)
The blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all unrighteousness … if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins. God’s faithfulness is in his word as well (truth). Forgiveness, on the other hand, unites us with God in Christ. The truth is that Jesus’s innocence in his death produces a blood flow that is eternally and objectively true. God cannot lie. God cannot go back on his word. The cross of Jesus and its results cannot be erased or undone! You are forgiven in Christ for every sin because God says so!
Does that mean we have a licence to sin? “Certainly not!” we died to sin how can we live in it any longer” (Romans 6: 2). This Paul said in one of his deeper discussions on the meaning of grace in our baptism. “All of us who were baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him by baptism into death, in order that , just as Christ was raised from the dead … we too may live a new life!” (Romans 6: 3-4). Easter keys unlock that fellowship with Christ and this walking in the Light as he is the light.
Jesus has that in his resurrected hands at Easter time: “Peace be with you! Whoever sins you forgive they are forgiven”! (John 20: 23) That Easter Key is in John’s heart when he shows concern for blood-bought souls “when anyone does sin we have one who speaks the Father on our behalf; Christ Jesus the righteous one” (1 John 2:1). That Easter key is on John’s heart and mind as he opens the Easter truth that “He is the atoning sacrifice, not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world!” (1 John 2: 2). The truth Keys work for my heart. But it is a master key system that opens every heart of every sinner!
Unlocking Heaven’s Doors
The resurrection of Christ is the power of the ministry keys. The resurrection and the ministry of the keys is the most prevalent fabric of the apostles’ ministry. It rightfully is a highlight of the Sundays of the Easter season. It is why the Church exists! The resurrection of Jesus opens the door to our fellowship with each other. His light scatters the darkness of our guilt. Christ is the key of truth that opens the door repentance and forgiveness. His Words are keys that let loose the blood of Jesus for the sins of the world and your sins too. His resurrection is also the key that will burst open our tombs on the last day and the unlock the gates to heaven for all who believe in Him. Amen.