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. 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. ~ 1 John 1:1-4
Who exactly is Jesus Christ, and what does he mean for our lives? If we boil down the apostle John’s first letter to its essence, that is really the question the letter answers. As we see in this four verse introduction to his letter, John doesn’t take long to start answering it.
In the first two verses of his introduction, John describes Jesus with these two phrases: He is “that which was from the beginning,” and he is that “which was with the Father.” Jesus wasn’t created in the beginning, nor was he created by the Father, he “was from the beginning” and he “was with the Father.” Co-equal with the Father and co-eternal with the Father, Jesus is the one, true, and eternal God!
As remarkable as that truth is, John’s description of Jesus gets even more remarkable. Jesus, the one true God who was and is and always will be, was also someone that John knew very personally. John heard Jesus speak with his own ears, saw Jesus with his own eyes, looked at Jesus and touched him with his very own hands. John was able to do all those things because Jesus was also true man who took on flesh in order to become a human being just like John was, just like we are.
Jesus did this for a very specific reason. He didn’t take on flesh just so he could check up on us, nor did he do it so he could experience what it’s like to be one of us for a little while. No, he took on flesh because we needed him to. We needed him to because our sinfulness–sinfulness with which we were born and sinfulness which we show every single day through our sinful actions–had ruined our relationship with him. Had Jesus not taken on flesh, our relationship with him would have remained ruined forever.
And so, because Jesus had an unyielding desire to fix our relationship with him, he became a man. He lived perfectly under God’s law as a man, and then he died innocently with our punishment for sin placed upon his shoulders. As God himself made flesh, Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death now count for ours.
That brings us to a final description that John gives to Jesus in this introduction to his letter. John calls him “the eternal life.” John calls him that because Jesus is eternal life, because he is the source of eternal life, and because he gives eternal life through the work that he did for us as our Savior from sin–eternal life that starts now through saving faith in him, and eternal life that will continue on with him forever in heaven.
What an introduction! This is who Jesus is. And this is what Jesus means for our lives. He is our Savior. And for us, that means everything.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the eternal God who took on flesh in order to rescue us from our sins and to grant us life with you forever. Remind us of who you are every day, that our faith in you may be strengthened every day. Amen.