WE CELEBRATE THE 'INCARNATION'
I John 1:1-4
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."
At Christmas time each year, though it may not be on the correct actual day of Jesus' birth, and certainly not the day of His incarnation into the womb of Mary, we still then, as we should be doing daily, celebrate the coming of One of the Godhead to become One like unto us, with the purpose of bringing us eternal life.
This prologue (I John 1:1-4) is reminiscent of the first 18 verses of the gospel of John. Both passages are concerned with the same central figure, Jesus Christ, the Word, Who became flesh, could be seen, touched, and known personally.
The apostle crowds much into his first several sentencesin both the Gospel of John, and this first epistle of John. The main verb is "declare" The object of the verb, "declare" is verbalized in the prologue. The incarnation of Jesus into flesh, is something we should joyfully declare.
John is stating that he is declaring:
the One that was "from the beginning"
the One that they had "heard"
the One that they had "seen"
the One that they had "gazed upon with admiration"
the One that they have "handled" and touched personally.
This One that he is thereby declaring is called by John, the "Word of life". This is the Greek word, "logos" that is translated "Word". John, most likely (according to internal evidences) wrote the gospel of John, and his three epistles, in Hebrew first, and later, either he or someone else translated it into Greek. Therefore, the word that he would have used for "logos" was the Hebrew word - "memra" which means "wisdom, the whole realm of thought."
Therefore, what John is telling us, is that Jesus is the embodiment of all wisdom, and that His whole realm of thought, design, and plan for the universe was designed to bring "life". He is the "Word of Life." Jesus came to bring us life, abundant life, and joyous life. If we truly find Him, have Him abide in us, we will find life, as never before experienced.
John emphasizes that this One Who is the Word of life, and has been historically manifested, is also the same One that the disciples had seen, handled, listened to, and admired. If we deny such a One, we deny the fellowship with Him, and lose out with the fellowship of brothers and sisters who are likewise sharing the fellowship Him, and the Father.
The One called the "Word of life" is, of course, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the One in Whom God chose to reveal Himself to the world. One of the trinity actually chose to become a man, and live amidst us, suffer the same human frailties as we do.
John tells us that this One "was from the beginning" and yet He was also "manifested" to humanity. This is two forms of the same existent One. Jesus existed in heaven, and later became the Son of God when He was implanted in the womb of Mary. This was the way that God chose to manifest Himself to us. By becoming a real human, and by having the disciples (amidst others) see, hear, listen to, and admire Him personally, Jesus could now have the church declare His wondrous works and words to others.
The gnostics denied the incarnation of the Lord Jesus. They said that Jesus was merely a phantom spirit on earth, and never had human form. John wants to confirm and assure us that Jesus was in a real bodily form, and was flesh and blood as are we. He makes it very plain that the One who "was" in the beginning, is the same One Who was manifested in human flesh before them.
The word "life" is from the Greek word "zoe", and is the antithesis of "thanatos" which speaks of a spiritual death. We have a new life inside of us, by the "Word of life" Who dwells within us. A spiritual life that overcomes even the physical death of the body, and continues to exist though the body dies. Jesus was born into human flesh, lived a life of real victory and blessing to others, and then when physical death tried to claim Him, the plan that He had, the wisdom and "memra" design that He had devised and mapped out, was put into effect for all that would accept Him as Savior.
This philosophical expression of God is called "logos", (or in Hebrew - "memra", the "Word". In verse 2, John uses the word "manifested" twice. This word means "to bring to light, to make known that which already exists." The One Who has always existed was made to be in a tangible, visible, and human form. He "was made flesh" (John 1:14).
The reason that He was made manifest to us, was to bring us this life. John shows in detail the message of the Lord concerning this "life.
John showed through his epistles and gospel that:
1. Men can have this life by believing on Christ and God.
"That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
"He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life."
"He that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life."
2. Life comes through searching the Scriptures.
"Search the Scriptures: for in them ye thing ye have eternal life."
3. God has commanded us to have this life...
"I know that His commandment is life everlasting."
4. We must permit it to remain, after we receive it.
I John 2:24
"If that which ye have heard, remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and in the Father."
5. No person who breaks the commandment of love given by Jesus can continue to possess it.
I John 3:15
"Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."
6. Life comes from God and through Christ.
I John 5:11
"God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
7. We can know that we have this life.
I John 5:13
"These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life."
John spends much effort in his gospel, and in his epistles to tell us how to find and participate in this life.
He tells us to:
a. Come to Christ for this life.
"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me; I will in no wise cast out."
b. Partake of His flesh, drink His blood, to share His life.
"This is the bread that cometh down from heaven... a man may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread... Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood ye have no life in you... he that eateth of this bread shall live forever."
c. Labor for the meat (doctrine) that endures unto life.
"Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you; for Him hath God the Father sealed."
d. Put the Lord above all selfish concerns.
"He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
e. Allow the love of Christ to fill this new life.
I John 3:14
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we live the brethren. He that loveth not his brother, abideth in death."
THE PURPOSE OF THE PROCLAMATION
John is relating this message to us so that "ye also may have fellowship with us." (verse 3) To not understand this manifestation of life is necessary for us to come into a relationship which allows a fellowship. There is no satisfaction in the church unless one comes into such a relationship. It is relationship that is vital, and not simply a knowledge about it.
The tense of the verb "have" in "have fellowship" means literally "continue to have fellowship." This fellowship is not a one time meeting and acquaintance-ship, but is to be a continuing relationship. An on-going, enduring, and through-trial-and-blessing relationship is not only possible, but designed and planned by the Lord.
"Fellowship" is the Greek word "koinonia" and it occurs 20 times in the New Testament, four of these 20 times in here in these verses of I John. The reason for the spread of Christianity is the "fellowship" with not only the other believers, but with the Lord Jesus and with God the Father. This "fellowship" was a restoration of what sin had robbed of mankind in the garden as Adam and Eve sinned. Now since the manifestation of Jesus, a "fellowship" with the Trinity was made possible again.
The understanding of this fellowship was lost for much of Christianity, and until we come back to an understanding of such, many will not experience the latter rain revival.
Jesus announced such a relationship possibility in the gospel of John. Now John is explaining it in detail in the epistle of I John. And until we, the saints, come to understand the relationship we are to have with the Son and the Father abiding within us, fellowshipping with us, filling us with the rhema word, and speaking through us to a sinful and dying world.
The Greek word for "fellowship", "koinonia" means "participation", not acquaintance, or friendship. God wanted a plan whereby we could participate with the Son, and with the Father, and have a relationship with both, and in-dwelling of both within us. This is why the word "koinonia" is the word used to refer to what we now call "communion, eucharist, and the Lord's supper".
When we partake of the bread and the drink representing the body and blood of Jesus, we are participating in His sacrifice for us, and becoming part of His body.
Our fellowship results because of the joint-fellowship with the Father and the Son. And with this fellowship, our "joy may be full." The reason John wants the believers to understand this is to have full joy.
This verse 4 is similar to John 15:11:
"These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full."
There is the suggestion in the tense of "made full" that this is a permanent joy. The joys of the world are temporary, fleeting, and of very short duration. Why would we want those, when we can have a joy that is permanent, lasting, and enduring?
What a great privilege that John had to be able to "look upon" ("Greek - "theaomai") the Word of life, manifested into human form. He was there to "gaze with purpose, see with desire, regard with admiration" (the meaning of "theaomai").
John had a prolonged gaze upon the Lord, and followed Him for His three year ministry, and gazed upon His crucified body. He was there when the resurrected Lord taught him again the lessons that had been too deep for him before.
Fortunately, for us, we can read these truths, first taught by Jesus, and now related to us by John, about the primary message of "life" given by the One that John had gazed upon with great admiration.
We have been blessed with the incarnation of long ago, and continue to have Him dwell within us. We celebrate this at Christmas.