First Sunday after Easter (Quasimodo geniti) (1 John 5:4-10)

Bethlehem Lutheran & Bethel Lutheran Church, Lebanon & Sweet Home, OR
First Sunday after Easter (Quasimodo geniti) + April 8, 2018
Text: 1 John 5:4-10

Alleluia! He is risen!
The Introit for today begins, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk of the Word [that by it you may grow up unto salvation].”  It’s this text from 1 Peter 2:2 which sets the theme for this Sunday.  It’s from this 1 Peter 2 text that this Sunday gets it’s strange name “Quasimodo geniti.”  Visions of the hunchback of Notre Dame come in our head, but really that’s just Latin for the same.  Incidentally, the character in the Victor Hugo novel was orphaned and found on Quasimodo Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, so he was named after this day in the Church year.
The common thread between the readings today is the power of the Word of God.  Nobody would argue that God is not powerful or that the Word He speaks is not almighty.  After all, the Psalmist says, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.” (Psalm 29:4-5).  But where the Word of God shows its greatest might is when it produces its intended result and works faith in human hearts.
John makes an amazing statement: “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

  • What is “our faith”? We don’t talk much about what it is, because it’s a rather elusive thing.  The moment you start talking about faith on its own, things get tricky, because faith doesn’t have any power in itself.
  • That’s because faith is not a personality trait, which some have more strongly than others. Faith is a trust which is bestowed by God for a purpose.  Jesus said faith is able to move mountains,[1] not because of a special quality in a person, but because faith clings to God, for whom nothing is impossible.
  • Faith’s purpose is to join us to Christ and all that belongs to Him. Faith is like glue. Nobody boasts about how good their strong their glue, what a lovely shade of off-white it is, or put it in a case and admire it in the bottle.  It’s meant to be used when you want to bond two things together.  (Unlike glue, faith can’t be purchased or replicated.)  Faith is our bond to our risen Lord.
  • The Holy Spirit is the master of faith. He creates, strengthens, and nurtures faith.  “You hear His voice, but you do not know whence He comes or whither He goes.” (John 3:8)  This He does by the testimony of Christ, which is the Word of God.
  • The bond of faith in Christ puts all other bonds to shame. “this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”  We can see how strong this bond is in what our faith is able to overcome:
    • Twisted desires: 15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:15–16)
    • Unbelief: “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)
    • Evil spirits: 1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world…4Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:1-4)
  • The bond of faith is tested daily by trials we face. If our bond was on the basis of our decision to adopt the Christian philosophy, we would give up and choose another.  If we accepted the truthfulness of the Gospel just because millions have adhered to it throughout history, then we might as well be Buddhist or pagan.  But, the bond which the Holy Spirit works is mightier than our own fortitude.  Therefore Paul writes,

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35–39)
This hope, strength, and victory are all yours through the testimony of the risen Lord, which God has borne to you.  Abide in this testimony, because God does not lie.  Amen.
[1] Matthew 17:20