Take a moment to consider each of your senses. What can you see? Do you hear anything? What about smell? The physical is important as well as the spiritual.
The incarnation of the Word of life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
In John’s time, some people struggled with the idea that Jesus had actually come in the flesh. They felt that this physical realm should be shunned and that Jesus must have existed only in a higher spiritual realm. John wanted them to know that Jesus had literally and physically lived among them (vs 2,3). The disciples had seen him, heard his voice and touched him. But his goal was not to show off his own experience. John wanted his readers to know they were invited to enjoy the greatest privilege.
The books of the New Testament are not a set of ancient myths. They are eyewitness accounts of actual history. That history tells of God’s Son, Jesus, coming to earth and becoming one of us.
Why did Jesus come? There are two reasons: first, he came on a revelation mission. He came to let us discover what God is like as he showed the wonder of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son (v 2). Secondly, he came on a relational mission. He came to invite us to join in the glorious fellowship of the Trinity (v 3). The truth of that invitation is more real than anything we can see or touch today!
How might the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago affect your life today?
Deeper Bible study
‘Open my eyes that I may see / glimpses of truth … Silently now I wait for thee, / ready, my God, thy will to see … Spirit divine!’1
Eyewitness accounts help to decide matters in a court setting. To open his defence of the faith under fire in his day, John offers us his own experience of Jesus: ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim’ (v 1). The problem was that some people in John’s church were denying the physical presence of the Son of God among us, so he wanted to assure them (and us) with his own testimony. His eyes had seen and his hands had touched the one who was ‘from the beginning’.
Our own experience of Jesus is a powerful antidote to false teaching and an effective tool in our evangelistic toolbox. Today, one’s own personal story is respected and sometimes held up as sovereign. This may mean that the account of our encounter with Christ and his living reality in our daily lives has a right to be heard. The big story of God’s redeeming grace in Christ can be told by preparing and sharing the small stories of our own testimony.
There is a link between fellowship with God, with each other, and joy (vs 3,4). When we enjoy fellowship with one another, we enter a deeper relationship with God. At the heart of this is the intimacy between the Father and his Son. It is by amazing grace that we are invited into that love and acceptance – and it leads to joy. John shares in verse 4 the desire of Jesus that our joy might be complete.2 This is part of his purpose in writing the letter, the other part being that we might believe in Jesus and know that we have eternal life.3 Once we know this – we should proclaim it!
Reflect on your own experience of the living Jesus, thanking him for joy. Ask him for an opportunity to tell someone about it today.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Amos 3,4; Psalms 140,141
Pray for Scripture Union
Pray for Marketing Officer Claire Baines as she continues to build relationships within SU and beyond to ensure that our products and activities are as widely known as possible. Pray that the Christmas resources she’s promoting will have a great impact on many children and young people.