Summary: For the Christian, whilst certain things might be truly admirable to us -and there’s nothing wrong in us appreciating art and beauty - the one great thing that has taken our breath away spiritually, and which outstrips anything else by far, is the true kn
1 JOHN CH 1 V 1 & 2
Have you ever seen something that’s taken your breath away? It’s stopped you dead in your tracks and you’ve forgotten everything else that up to that point occupied you?
I once visited the National Gallery in London and saw Georges Seurat’s ‘Bathers, Asnières’ painted by him in 1883-84. It is a huge imposing picture. But if you look very closely you see that the paint isn’t brushed on but applied in thousands and thousands of tiny individual dots. As you walk away backwards from the canvas the dots quickly converge and merge into this magnificent piece of art. That simply took my breath away!
Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence was cleaned-up and restored not so long ago. A tourist visiting it soon after made this entry in her e-mail diary: ‘We entered the main hall, and there was Michaelangelo’s masterpiece! It would take your breath away! Such details, like tendons on the hands, rib bones, arm veins, collar bones, neck tendons, were all carved in the statue, with a detail that made it look alive!!’
Many things affect different people in similar ways: natural landscapes, buildings, cars and so on.
For the Christian, whilst certain things might be truly admirable to us -and there’s nothing wrong in us appreciating art and beauty - the one great thing that has taken our breath away spiritually, and which outstrips anything else by far, is the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s the sort of impression I get about Apostle John when looking at the opening of his first letter. He’s captivated; gripped; all taken up with his subject. He’s declaring to us the most incredible and wonderful truth that totally changed his life, and which changes ours too if our trust is in Jesus.
(V 1-2) ‘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. 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.’
These words convey us into the same territory as those we find in John’s Gospel Ch 1 V 1,2: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” and Verse 14 “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.’
John is, of course, in both instances focusing our attention on Jesus, the Word, or Word of life, who was from the beginning. John’s big point is that He who eternally existed as God entered into time and space as a man: that God appeared on the earth in human form.
JESUS AS GOD
‘That which was from the beginning.’ If it’s Jesus that John is writing about why does he say ‘that’ instead of ‘who’? It’s because John is including the message in with the messenger. It’s the person of God’s Son and what He reveals that’s in mind and the two shouldn’t be separated. As Simon Kistemaker puts it. ‘The term “that” is broader than the word “who” for it includes the person and the message of Jesus Christ. The terms refers to God’s revelation, namely, the gospel…’
‘That which was from the beginning’. What beginning was this? When the heavens and the earth were made and time-space continuum formed. When the great act of creation took place the Word already existed.
In COL CH 1 V 16,17 the Apostle Paul declares the same thing: all things were created through Christ and it, therefore, follows that: ‘He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together’.
Here Jesus’ eternity and pre-eminence are affirmed. Peter Lewis commenting on these two verses declares: ‘Christ pre-dated all creation, that when nothing at all existed except God – the Son already was!” It also means that, He is before all things in importance’.
How does John identify the Lord Jesus? What name does He give?
‘This we proclaim concerning the Word of life.’
As Christians we’re very familiar with Jesus as ‘The Word’, and it’s so full of meaning and depth.
John Calvin said: ‘I think he calls the Son of God ‘the Word’ simply because, first, He is the eternal Wisdom and Will of God, and secondly, because He is the express image of His purpose’.
Jon Mackinney states: ‘It means “a divine revelation, an assertion, or a declaration”. It is the official, authoritative word’.
Words are hugely important: we use them to communicate as accurately and clearly as we can our inner thoughts to others. Now Jesus Christ is God’s Word – by Christ He has spoken to us: He reveals Himself to us; His thoughts; His purpose; His Will.