April 15, 2018 [Easter 3]  1 John 1:1-4  J.D.Roekle

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. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

Jesus Is the Life

Dear Friends in Christ,

          In the first lesson for today, we find Peter and John on trial before the Jewish authorities.  They had been jailed for teaching about Jesus, especially about the resurrection of the dead.  They were asked by what authority they were teaching this.  ‘What gives you the right to teach this?’ was the question at hand.  Peter answered that question by saying that it was by the name of Jesus they were teaching these things.  And then he boldly testified: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” 

          Of course, Peter was only echoing the words of Jesus himself who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

          Jesus is the way, the truth, the life.  How is it that we sinners can have a relationship with our perfect God?  Jesus is the way.  The only way.  Can we trust Jesus?  Is he reliable?  Jesus is the truth.  Whatever he proclaims is truth.  Absolute truth.  So what does that mean for us?  That’s what is found in the third name Jesus gives himself: the life.  Jesus is the life. 

          The verses before us make reference to Jesus being the life.  John says: “The life appeared.”  John refers to Jesus as the life for a very good reason.  There were false teachers he was combating who denied that Christ was truly human.  They said that Christ actually joined the human being Jesus at the time of his baptism.  And this heavenly Christ left Jesus’ body sometime before Jesus died. 

Part of John’s purpose in writing this letter is to refute this error.  He wanted to reinforce the truth to his readers; the truth that Jesus Christ was true God and true man throughout his stay on earth, and that Jesus’ human and divine natures are inseparable.  They are both a part of who Jesus Christ is.  The Athanasian Creed which we generally speak on Trinity Sunday spells this truth out:  “It is furthermore necessary for eternal salvation truly to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ also took human flesh.  Now this is the true Christian faith: We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is both God and man.” 

As both true God and true man, Jesus Christ is the life that is revealed to us.  “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.” 

          Jesus is, in fact, the Word of life.  In the first chapter of John’s Gospel, John makes it clear that Jesus is the Word.  There, John paints a beautiful picture of Jesus who was sent by God to reveal who God is, because he is God.  Jesus is the Word made flesh; the Word in person. 

          Even more, Jesus is the Word of life.  This life is from before the beginning of time.  This life has existed from eternity.  Even before creation, this life was with the Father in heaven.  And this life will continue to exist forever. 

This life was revealed to human eyes when he took on flesh in that Bethlehem stable.  It was here that he took on human life unlike any other, because he lived a perfect life.  This life was finally persecuted: he suffered and finally his life even ended.  But this life could not be extinguished.  This life came back to life on the 3rd day. 

He did all this in order to redeem life, yours and mine from the terrors of sin and hell.  In his death and resurrection, this life guaranteed life for us.  Eternal life.  Life after death.  Life in heaven with Jesus Christ who is the life.  Life that is ours even now!

Sound too good to be true?  John can back up his words about this life he speaks of.  After all, John has personal evidence.  John saw Jesus Christ the life with his very own eyes.  He talked with him face to face.  He witnessed his miracles.  He received his body and blood from Christ himself as Holy Communion was celebrated for the first time.  He witnessed his cruel crucifixion. He heard his direction from the cross to take care of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  On Easter morning John entered Jesus’ tomb and saw the strips of cloth lying in the otherwise empty grave.  John saw this life appear to the twelve on 2 different occasions behind locked doors.  John’s eyes, ears, mouth, and hands told him that this life was for real. 

We all long for relationships.  With a spouse. With children. Parents. Brothers or sisters. Friends. Neighbors.  It is great to have others that we can see; touch; talk to; laugh and cry with. 

As great as those relationships are, how much greater is it to have a relationship with the life.  He provides us with the life that we need.  He is the one that one day we will see face to face. 

          Thanks to Jesus, each one of us can say “I have a life!”  It is now our privilege to proclaim the good news about this life! 

          In 3 out 4 verses, John uses the word proclaim.  In verse 3 he says: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 

          John and his fellow apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus.  With this they had a special privilege and responsibility to not keep what they saw to themselves.  They were to tell others about the marvelous words and works of Jesus. 

          Why tell others about Jesus, the life?  So that their listeners could have fellowship with them.  The word for fellowship here has the idea of being “partners”.  When you are a partner with someone, you have something in common… you go to school together; you work together; you own a plot of land together; you have a common interest or common activity. 

          The kind of partners John is speaking of is partners in the gospel.  John wanted to spread the news about Jesus, so that he would have Jesus in common with those to whom he spread it. 

Why is this partnership so important to John and all believers?  John says: “We write this to make our joy complete.”  What could make John and the other apostles happier than to know that others have heard and believed the message about Jesus Christ the life, so that they now have something in common with their listeners!  A common Father.  And a common life in Christ the life

Through the Holy Spirit’s work we have something in common with the apostles.  We have faith in Christ.  We are partnered up with the apostles and countless believers throughout the ages and today who continue to proclaim the good news about Christ. 

There are plenty of people out there who don’t know about the life that Christ provides.  You may know them pretty well.  Maybe you live with such a person.  Or next to one.  Perhaps you work with one.  Maybe you are a longtime friend of such a person.  You may just be an acquaintance of one who needs the life Christ provides.

Have you proclaimed the truth to that person?  If you haven’t or you have stopped trying, what’s keeping you from telling them about Jesus?  Maybe you are thinking:  “I don’t want to pressure them” or “I don’t know what to say” or “I don’t know how they are going to react to me” or “I don’t like to talk about religion with people.”  

Wipe away the excuses with the realization that nothing could make you happier than to see that person in heaven with you one day.  What could possibly make us happier than to have faith in Jesus Christ in common with that person?!

Jesus is the life.  Let us continue to grasp on to that truth for our eternal welfare.  Let’s remember that salvation is found in no one else except Jesus, who is the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus the life.  Having this truth firmly in our minds will affect how we live and what we proclaim!  Amen.