And so we come to the last “long” letter of the New Testament. Or at least the last letter with multiple chapters, anyway.
And from the very beginning, you can almost hear the emotion coming from the apostle John who wrote this book. From this man who was called the beloved disciple.
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. (1-2)
It never really struck me until very recently that everything in here is pointing to Jesus himself. He is the Word of life. He is the very expression of life itself. All that life is supposed to be is found in him: whole and complete in every way, with no defects.
And he is the expression of Life himself. The Author of Life expresses himself to us in Jesus. And Jesus himself is Life.
So when John says in verse 2, that the “life” appeared,” he’s referring to Jesus in his incarnation. He came to earth as a man, and John and the other apostles were able to hear his voice, see him with their own eyes, and touch his nail-scarred hands after the resurrection.
And John calls Jesus, the “eternal life.” He was with the Father before time began, having no beginning or end. And now he gives life to those who are dead. He gives life to those who are spiritually dead, living apart from God. And the day will come when he will give life to those who are physically dead, giving them new bodies that are like his own.
With that in mind, John 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. We write this to make our joy complete. (3-4)
In short, John and the other apostles weren’t content to revel in the joy they had because of their fellowship with God. Rather, they didn’t consider their joy complete until others could join them in that fellowship. And so they were bold to proclaim all that they had seen and heard.
In that, as well as many other things, we are to follow in their footsteps.
Too many Christians are just happy to be saved. To revel in the love that God has for them and the forgiveness he has imparted to them. To rejoice in the healing God has brought in their lives.
But we can’t simply be satisfied with that. To be satisfied with that and that alone is pure selfishness when many other people are dying apart from Christ. They don’t know his love. They don’t know his forgiveness. They don’t know his healing in their lives. How can we not weep for them?
And so like John and the other apostles, we need to go out and proclaim this Life that has been given to us that they may share in that fellowship with Him too.
How about you? Are you so focused on rejoicing at your own salvation that you can’t see those around you that need that salvation just as badly?
Let us go out. Let us proclaim the gospel to our loved ones. To those in our neighborhood, workplace, and schools. And when we do and see people come into God’s kingdom, that’s when our joy will be made complete.