I have decided to start a series on 1 John which happens to be one of my favourite books in the Bible. There is so much in this book that is helpful, both for understanding theology and for living the Christian life.
“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— 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— 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. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1–4 ESV)
There are those who say that Jesus was only a myth, a symbol or a religious image. John had a different problem, but the solution is the same. John was dealing with the beginning of a heresy called Docetism. Docetism taught that Jesus only seemed to be human. Since flesh is evil and Jesus was good, he must have been pure spirit that just happened to look like a human body.
John explains that he knew Jesus personally. He saw Jesus with his own eyes and even more, he touched Jesus with his own hands. There is no way that Jesus was just a phantom. For radical critics today, it is important to see that Jesus was no myth, he was a historical figure.
Beyond just being a human being, John reminds us of the miracle of the incarnation. Jesus was with God and then was made manifest among us. To focus on the divinity or the humanity is dangerous. We need a healthy understanding of the incarnation that reminds us that Jesus was God and man.
John shares this information, not to brag about his knowledge of Jesus or to provoke a theological debate. John’s goal is that of fellowship. John’s hope is that his audience will have fellowship with him and together they would have fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is the goal of the Christian life, to be connected vertically and horizontally, to love God and to love each other.