The Apostle John is referred to as the “apostle whom Jesus loved.” He was given great privilege and responsibility to write a gospel account of Jesus’ life. He wrote four epistles and the book of Revelation which reveal the great prophetic end of this age.
Today we are beginning the first epistle of John.
Let’s read the first four verses .
1 John 1:1-4 The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
In these first two verses, John is revealing and speaking about Jesus:
1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life -
Who is John talking about in this first phrase, “That which was from the beginning”? He is talking about Jesus. We could condense this verse to read, That which was from the beginning…concerning the Word of life.
Jesus is called the “Word” in John 1:1 and He is referred to the “life” in John 14:6.
John then uses three of our five senses saying, (that) “which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.”
First he says, “we”. Who are these people? The text doesn’t say but I imagine these include Jesus’ disciples. It think it includes the 500 brethren Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15. Later in verse two the word “witness” was used so I think all who saw Jesus is included here.
Notice the word “heard” is mentioned first. We are told that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
Our faith grows as we hear and read the Word of God.
… which we have have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, …
The apostles and many others saw Jesus in the flesh. They saw what He looked like in person. Today, we see Jesus by faith. As you know, Jesus is in heaven so we cannot see Him as they did. Jesus told Thomas in the upper room, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
Remember Jesus said it was best that He leave to go to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could come to us, I believe another reason may be so that no image of Him could be made. We are prone to idolatry. That image of Jesus could be a source of idolatry. We would place our faith and trust in a picture and not in the true God. Think of the shroud of Turin. We are told in the ten commandments to not make a graven image of God. Why? Because we can never capture His true being or identity in any thing we could create. A picture of Jesus sitting with little children doesn’t reveal that He is also a just Judge. And a picture of Jesus sitting behind a bench with a gavel in His hand doesn’t show Him as One who loves the children.
The point John is making here is that he saw Jesus the Son of God in the flesh.
….and our hands have handled, …
Jesus had a physical body that someone could touch. Jesus could touch others with His hand. Remember the woman who had the flow of blood for 12 years. She touched His garment and His power flowed to her to heal her. Jairus’ daughter was sick and he went to ask Jesus to go to his daughter but He was delayed by this woman. His daughter died, but Jesus touched her and she was made alive (Mark 5:21-43).
We cannot touch Jesus now but we can still feel His touch. How? He uses our hands to greet each other, to heal, to comfort, to encourage one another.
verse 2-3a the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us -
We see the word “manifested” twice in this verse. Manifested means to show or demonstrate plainly; to reveal.
Jesus was shown and revealed to them and to us.
Let me list three ways Jesus was manifested to us:
- Jesus is revealed to us as our Creator.
John 1:3 All things were made through Him (Jesus), and without Him nothing was made that was made.
Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities of powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
- Jesus is revealed as our Savior.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Titus 2:13-14 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
- Jesus is revealed as our Lord.
Acts 10:36-37 (when Peter went to Cornelius’ house) “The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ - He is Lord of all - that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: …
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted Him and give Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
They (John and the witnesses) not only bore witness but they also declared who Jesus was. Jesus said He came from the Father. Jesus told His disciples (and us) that the Father loved them because they loved Him and that they believed He came forth from God (John 16:27). Jesus in His high priestly prayer to the Father said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3).
Therefore we are to believe that the Father sent His Son Jesus to us. This is a stumbling block for the Jews, even to this day. This is a stumbling block for many cults. They don’t believe Jesus is God.
We are to declare i.e. speak with confidence, our life change in Christ. We show in our actions the change Jesus has made in our lives. We declare the evidence of God's existence and of His plan of salvation, the gospel.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
We are to declare with confidence what we know to be true. Jesus is called the “truth” in John 14:6. God’s word is declared as truth in John 17:17.
This is a pattern for evangelism: We hear and see (understand) the truth then declare it to others.
In verse 3 we see the result; fellowship.
verse 3b that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
What is the result of all this hearing, seeing, touching, witnessing and declaring?
Fellowship. Fellowship is togetherness. It is sharing a common faith in Jesus as our Savior.
It is spending time together talking about Jesus, sharing with others our experiences with Him, sharing our joys and triumphs, our troubles and our sorrow. We pray for each other to our Lord.
But John takes it further. We also have fellowship with the Father and Jesus His Son. What does this mean? We can know God intimately as much as our brains can allow and accept. We can freely love Him, enjoy Him, talk to Him.
There are fantastic benefits:
- We become His children (John 1:12)
- We become heirs and coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
- We become His friend (John 15:15)
- We are promised to be with Him forever from the moment of our salvation and into eternity.
- And so much more.
Verse 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
This revealed truth about Jesus, this knowledge of Him and this fellowship brings us joy.
Joy is having great pleasure and delight, having great happiness. It’s not based on our changing situations or conditions but in the knowledge of the Lord who Himself is unchanging.
Reveal, fellowship, and joy is the pattern. Stay tuned for more from 1 John in the weeks to come. Let’s pray.