What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life – and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also… 1John 1:1-3a
Consider: what we have heard…what we have seen…what we have looked at…touched with our hands…we have seen…we have seen and heard; the author of this letter is an eyewitness to Jesus Christ. This passage calls to mind John 1:14: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory…
The Gospel is rooted in history, and while there are many facets and events in Gospel history the preeminent event is the incarnation of the Word of God; the birth of Jesus Christ, the life of Jesus Christ, the death of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the consummation of the ages in Jesus Christ.
John does not “pull rank” by saying, “I saw him with my eyes and you didn’t”. No Apostle does that, whether one of the Twelve or Paul; to John and his companions seeing Jesus was a blessing with responsibility and hopeful desire, the responsibility was to proclaim what they saw and heard to others, the hopeful desire was that others might know what it is to have koinonia (fellowship) with the Father, the Son, and their family.
John writes in verse 3: so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
We may think John has his motives mixed up, shouldn’t he proclaim the Gospel so that the hearers might first have fellowship with the Father rather than that you too may have fellowship with us? Consider what he writes in verse 7: but if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another; shouldn’t John have written if we walk in the light as He is in the light we have fellowship with the Father and the Son?
In other words, shouldn’t John make fellowship with God the priority and treat fellowship with others as an outgrowth of fellowship with God?
But yet if the prayer of Jesus in John Chapter 17 has become a reality in John’s life, if John is experiencing the unity of the Trinity, the love of the Trinity; if loving one another as I have loved you is an unfolding reality in John’s life, then John writes as we might expect him to write, he unselfconsciously writes as one whose life is in Christ and who desires that others may experientially know what he knows, he writes with the desire that others might have koinonia with him because he has koinonia with the Trinity.
John writes that our joy may be made complete. Jesus knew joy in bringing others to the Father; John found joy in bringing others to Jesus; where do we find joy? But it is more than finding joy or experiencing joy, it is our joy being brought to completion or perfection – that our joy may be made complete, or that our joy may be perfected and matured.
John isn’t selling a decision someone has to make, though a decision is part of the proclamation (I should note that a decision can take many forms); his message isn’t geared to have someone sign-up for Jesus and then move on to the next prospect so that he can report his weekly sales numbers. John is writing about on-going relationship, we are to live in the light so that we can have fellowship with one another, we are to love one another, we know we have passed from death to life because we love each other, we are to lay down our lives for one another just as Jesus laid down His life for us – John’s emphasis on our relationships with one another and with those relationships being the measure of our relationship with God is a major theme of the letter, a theme that begins at the beginning.
This message on koinonia with one another, this emphasis, comes from one who saw Jesus, touched Jesus, heard Jesus, and lived with Jesus – what does this message and emphasis look like in my life? In your life? In our lives? In the life of the professing church?