Having spent months reading/writing through his gospel and then the same with the Revelation I must stay with this same author John! I am assuming that he is the author of the letters of John. I choose to believe the traditional view that after Emperor Domitian’s reign came to an end in AD 96 that John was released from the island of Patmos under the short reign of Emperor Nerva (AD96-98). John went to live in Ephesus (AD 96-99) and before he died he wrote these letters and also arranged the New Testament as we know it today.
(Note as always: there is much written from very learned people on these letters and these early morning devotions are only meant to serve as an encouragement and not a theological understanding. They are my own personal daily journey through the Bible.)
Before we begin to read look at these 2 verses first.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Influenced by the opening of that one verse John had already commenced his gospel in this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
Now let’s read:-
“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.” (1 John 1: 1-2)
See how John goes further than his gospel. His gospel stated that Jesus was the Word at the beginning. The Word, not only had creative powers but the Torah (the Hebrew of Word) is Jesus Christ and John had seen Him! And now John opens his letters with the following: we have encountered Jesus Christ, the Word, the meaning of life; we have heard, we have seen, we have looked and our hands have touched Him.
The foundation of our faith sits on the evidence of the physical encounter by many people of the human Jesus Christ, people like John.
It seems this is a big deal for John. In the next chapter he writes opposing the anti-Christs in his generation. A skim over this first letter reveals how John seems to be combatting their thought that Jesus was not fully human and fully divine. That the Spirit of Christ came upon a human Jesus and lived in him until shortly before he was crucified. This Spirit of Christ now lives in us and speaks to us and therefore Jesus’ words do not have a higher authority to our words today. Clearly wrong! But it was believed and it was taught and the churches were being deceived.
The importance of having been with Jesus was crucially important to the early Church, perhaps more than we realise. The replacement of Judas was chosen through the criteria of having witnessed the resurrected Jesus (Acts 1:22). It was everything.
The central message was from the beginning “Christ is alive! I have seen Him!”
When they were asked, “Were you there?” They had to be able to say “Yes”.
They couldn’t say “No but I was told Jesus had risen”.
It had to be personally experienced.
So I sit this morning and thank God that He came. That He was fully incarnated into human form. That Jesus Christ was fully human as well as fully divine. I wonder what he sounded like; what he looked like; what he smelt like; what he felt like; though He was more than me, He was like me. When I talk to Him it is to someone who understands me and knows what I am going through.
In 2023 I desire to encounter Christ and to see the Church encounter Him. But this encounter must lead to our lives sounding, looking and feeling more like Jesus. This encounter is not to make me the best version of myself. That cannot be the goal. It is that the world around me sees the best version of Jesus in me.
I desire that the Church speaks less about themselves and more of who Jesus is.
I desire that Church divisions end because it is hard to encounter Jesus without love for others.
I desire that disciples within the Church are seen as Disciples of Jesus for if they are not they will be disciples of something or someone else.
Let us encounter Jesus and be known as people who have.