Proclaiming the Testimony (April 15)

1 John 5:1-12

Comment


We often think of witness as verbal, one-on-one encounters, in which the story of Jesus is shared. Witness does include an individual’s verbal testimony, but the church as whole community has a witness that goes far beyond words. Everything we do speaks louder than words. How we conduct our business, treat one another, worship, eat, share, minister, and study, all proclaim the message of Christ (or deny Christ, when we are unloving, proud, greedy, materialistic, lazy, etc.). The Passage in 1 John may allude to two powerful symbols that serve as testimonies to message of Christ—Baptism (water) and blood (communion). The testimony of the church’s life should not be taken lightly.

Christ
1 Jonn 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.” What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the Christ? According to the Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, “the title ‘Christ’ means ‘annointed’ and refers to one commissioned by God for a special task” (Revised and Updated, 2011, p. 458).

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Since 1 John is a letter, write the passage by hand on stationary and place it in an envelope addressed to your Sunday School class. Ask someone to open it and read it to the class without telling them who it’s from. They may listen more intently and from a different perspective than they would ordinarily.

•    Lectio Divina is a prayerful reading of scripture. The passages in this unit might lend themselves well to this kind of reflective reading. See the attachment to the first lesson for a guide to Lectio Divina.

•    Audio:
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the church office.)

Teaching Suggestions

•    Testimonies: This lesson is another good opportunity for your class members to share testimonies of how their lives have been changed by Christ.
o    Ask: What is your testimony of how you became a Christian? What was your life like before you became a Christian? How was your life changed by a relationship with Christ?
o    We would like to learn about these stories. Please let us know of members with stories/testimonies that should be shared with the congregation.

•    Symbols of Baptism and Communion: Consider displaying symbols of Baptism and Communion in your room during this session—communion cup, bowl of water or sea shell. I have a matching communion cup and bowl you are welcomed to borrow. We also have banners that represent Baptism and Communion.

Resources

•    Bible dictionaries:
o    Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1990)
o    Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised and Updated (Harper & Row, 2011)
o    The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Five Volume Set (Abingdon, 1976)

•    For additional commentary on the text, see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)