Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love. 2 John, verse 3.
There are only 13 verses in 2 John, and three of them – almost ¼ of the book – are taken up in greetings. If you read the letters from the New Testament, most of them start with some kind of flourish, some formal greetings. Indeed, when I read letters, emails, or messages I’ve written, I think that “Dear Whoever” is pathetically bland compared to the intentional and descriptive greetings with which the apostles started their correspondence.
That’s because it is.
Perhaps that’s one way that God gets our attention centuries after these letters were first written. Shakespeare is still read and understood in 16th century English and it gets our attention. William Faulkner is still read and understood in the southern dialect of the early 20th century American South. Eminem still rants and is understood in the visceral slang of 21st century Detroit. Perhaps people in 1st century Judea actually began formal written greetings this way; that could be part of it. Perhaps, too, Jesus the Christ wanted to get our attention in a way that would always engage and interest us; I’m sure that’s most certainly true (or, in more ecclesiastical parlance, “amen”).
And why does God want to get our attention this way? The answer is right there in the first four words of this verse: “grace, mercy and peace.” Jesus has a message for us: God has grace, mercy and peace in store for us. Not just in heaven: He has those things for us here and now. They are real and tangible; they are gifts from God to help us persevere. They are gifts from God to share. They are gifts from God to use as tools here on the Third Rock. They are gifts from God to demonstrate…
…His truth and love. Jesus gives us grace, mercy and peace as proof of His truth and love. A true and loving person is graceful, merciful and lives in peace. Peace, grace and mercy are fruits of love and honesty. You can’t have grace, mercy or peace without truth and love, and truth and love always allow grace, mercy and peace to flourish.
Jesus gave us this short letter of only thirteen verses to greet us with this news. He used flowery language to engage our interest so that we might read on and remember His grace, mercy and truth. He wanted to engage us, to remember those qualities, because He has a message to deliver that calls to our attention our need for his grace, mercy, peace, truth and love.
Dear Jesus, I need your truth and love today. Thank you for your grace, mercy, and peace.