Thursday of Easter VII – I John 5:9-15 

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Did you see the film called “Manchester by the Sea”? It starred Casey Affleck, the somewhat troubled younger brother of the more famous Ben Affleck. It is not a cheerful movie; I cannot recommend it as a delightful escape from the problems of this world. The film does, however, touch on the first line of this text. If we are willing to listen to people, God’s testimony is greater.

Affleck’s character is depressed and dealing with a great deal of guilt. He has done foolish things which have resulted in great sorrow. The guilt is real. The film is really about his struggle to believe that he is forgiven, that he can be forgiven. Can he believe the testimony of God? He is hearing the testimony of the people who keep reminding him of his sins. He believes the testimony of his own guilty conscience. Can he believe the testimony of God who loves him despite his sins? He spends some time in religious conversation in the film.

John tells us that the testimony of God, because He is God, is greater than all the testimony of men. And God says that eternal life is a gift, and that gift is given in Jesus. It is not earned, it is not deserved, and it is not for only some. God so loved the world, all of it, that he gave his only Son. Your guilt does change what God has done.

John has written this essay/letter we call I John in order that you believe and know that you have eternal life. As you look back upon your past you will find many occasions in which your own conscience will condemn you as a sinner. It is not a lie which your conscience speaks, but it is not the whole truth. There is another testimony to which John would have you listen. In Christ Jesus God has spoken another thing, completely true despite what your conscience may assert. God has forgiven it all. Jesus has washed it away. You have eternal life and the favor of God. He listens to you like a dear father hears his dear children. Trust the testimony of God.

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