There’s something that really strikes me about 1 John when I read it. I would like you all to take time to consider what is happening in it. This is the same John who was called a son of thunder. Why? Because of his quick temper. Look at what happens when the Samaritans reject Christ in Luke 9. John and James are right there. “Lord! Do you want us to call fire down from Heaven like Elijah did on them?”
I’ll grant that part of me can understand that. However, note the attitude. First off, do you want us to call it down. (“Step back Lord. We’ll handle this one! BURN BABY BURN!) Secondly, these guys had never called down fire from Heaven. It’s like they were wanting the divine power to do so.
Of course, Christ rebuked them there, but that shows you the character we are dealing with. However, I keep that in mind as I approach 1 John. I look throughout this book and this is the man who would seem to not hurt a fly. He keeps referring to little children and how we are to walk in love and we must love our neighbor and walk as Jesus did.
Something happened. What made the Son of Thunder the apostle of love?
I can think of only one explanation.
God came near.
Consider how it starts at the first chapter.
“That which was from the beginning.”
No doubt, this is talking about God, but John is saying this about the Son. (There’s the deity of Christ right there my JW friends.) John is talking about the eternal reality that is God in the person of the Son.
“What we have heard”
If we consider it as a historical look, my mind goes to Sinai and the voice of God thundering from the mountain and how the Israelites did not want to go near. They even told Moses to go and speak on our behalf for if God speaks to us we will die. (Makes you wonder about those today who make it commonplace.)
“What we have seen with our eyes.”
And now, things are getting closer. We have the manifestation of God. We could consider a passage like Isaiah 6 as an example.
“What we have looked at.”
And John 1:14. The Word has become flesh. That which was from the beginning is now flesh. He now dwells among us. (Or rather, dwelt)
“And touched with our hands.”
Can it get any closer? They walked in and out with the Lord for three years and saw his life. What is my answer then to the question of what changed them?
Christ came to them.
When God draws near, people change. Those who are accepting become more like him. Those that are not, fall away and harden themselves. No one is the same after an encounter with God though.
And for those of us who claim the name “Christian”, we need to watch ourselves. If we are claiming to have made Christ our Lord and Savior and received the Holy Spirit, then we should be sons of love indeed as John would say. As long as we are not, do we give the world any reason to think that God came near?