John: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Now hear again the words of this epistle: That which was from the beginning...concerning the word of life – 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.

- There are two important truths contained in both of those statements. One of which is the deity of Jesus Christ and accordingly, his eternality. We know from the gospel accounts that the Jews hated the claim of Jesus that he was God. They tried to kill him on several occasions because he made himself equal with God. One account is found in John 8 where Jesus claims to have been in existence before Abraham, one of the heroes of the Jewish faith. And this denial of Christ's deity and eternality continued in some quarters as the church developed. It spread not only in Jewish circles but also in circles that claimed to be Christian.

- In the third and fourth century a man named Arius posited the idea (though he was not the first) that Jesus was not eternal, he was a created being of God the Father. And Arianism, as it is labeled, still exists today. Of course, many go further and not only posit that Jesus is not equal with God but was no different from any other human being. He was just a man.

- Even as early as when this letter was written, between 90-100 A.D., it is apparent that John is combating the idea that Jesus was a mere mortal. He describes him as that which was from the beginning; not that which was created in the beginning – when the beginning of creation happened, he already was.

- The deity of Jesus is so important to lasting Christian joy. Our faith will be dysfunctional if we fail to take into account our Lord's divinity. By that I mean that we don't simply mentally acknowledge his deity, which most, if not all of us would do; but that we understand what his divinity means in terms of his relationship with us, his people.

- We do not worship a mere man. We do not pray to a mere man. We do not share a message conjured up by a mere man. We are not giving up our lives in order to follow a mere man. We are following the Son of God, who is equal in every way with the Father.

- So when a life threatening disease strikes us or someone we love, and we fall to our knees and call on Jesus' name, asking for his healing touch even though the doctors say recovery is a long shot, we know we are praying to the Son of God, who banished disease from Palestine during his earthly ministry. That gives us hope when the world sees no reason for hope.

- Or when healing doesn't come and death is seemingly victorious, we know we serve the Son of God, who gives us eternal life because he stepped out of his grave and