Pastor, First Baptist Church, Grand Junction
Focal Passage: I John 1:1-4
When we claim to know someone famous, people will often ask us how? Or where is your proof? What do we do? We tell them personal stories about the person. We show them photos of the person and how we met them. These things give credibility to our claim that we really know this person. John gave proof of how he knew Jesus and what great joy was derived from that genuine relationship. John longed for his readers to experience this same fellowship. Unfortunately, some of them were being swayed by various teachings that discredited the Incarnation of Christ. John knew this was essential to genuine fellowship with God and other believers.
The word “beginning” would alert readers that John was talking about Jesus Christ. It also demonstrated His deity by illustrating the fact that He existed before creation. John draws upon various learning styles to highlight Jesus’ humanity. He demonstrates the audible learning style by telling them he has (heard) the teachings of Jesus. He describes the visual learning style by relating all the things he had (seen) Jesus do. He (saw) Jesus perform many different miracles. He was present (observe) at the Transfiguration of Christ. He utilizes the hands-on learning style by saying that he had worked hand-in-hand (touched) with Jesus in His earthly ministry. John wraps this verse up by reinforcing to his readers that he was talking about Jesus Christ by calling Him the Word of Life. This is the title John used for Jesus in his gospel.
My youngest daughter struggles to keep a secret about gifts. We have stopped telling her what we have bought for people because she cannot resist telling them. John, in verse 2, is the same way. He had seen and experienced genuine fellowship with God and other believers and he did not want his readers to miss out. John says that he not only testifies about it but declares it. It is similar to saying that you believe in something and shouting what you believe with a bullhorn! The message John was shouting was Jesus the eternal life was with the Father (shows His deity) and now revealed to us (shows His humanity).
John gets to the thrust of writing this epistle in verses 3-4. He wanted his fellow believers to experience genuine fellowship just as he had. Think about when you have tried out a new restaurant or gone to a new vacation spot. You can’t wait for others to go and check it out as well. When they go and enjoy it, this creates a sense of joy in your life. This is what is happening to John because he knows how awesome this fellowship with God is. He looks forward to them not only enjoying fellowship with fellow believers but genuine fellowship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. He cannot wait for them to experience it themselves and this will create immense joy for John.
John has gone to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus’ humanity and deity. He knew first hand this was essential for genuine fellowship with God and other believers. He had become aware of the struggles his readers had with false teachings that were being circulated. He was not going to stand by and watch them miss the genuine fellowship he was enjoying. This awareness caused him to declare how genuine fellowship with God and other believers could be experienced. We too, must be willing to share with others how they can experience this genuine fellowship with God and other believers.
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction.