I was reading the Prologue to 1 John last night. I was stuck mainly on the first verse. There are times you will read a text of Scripture that you’ve read so many times before but then, you will return to that text and you will notice new things that you had never noticed before and be struck in ways you never had before.
That was what happened to me.
It’s the simplicity of the text in many ways. You can picture the demeanor in which John would say this. He’s not angry. He’s speaking in a gentle tone with a group of people he loves. What amazes me about this is that this is the same John who was called a Son of Thunder by Jesus.
In Luke 9, Jesus is wanting to go through a Samaritan village and they refuse. What do James and John say? “Lord. Do you want us to call down fire from Heaven and burn them?” They wanted to be Elijah. You don’t want our Lord? Fine! Then BURN, BABY BURN! That was why they were the Sons of Thunder. They had quick tempers.
Do you see any of that in 1 John? No. I believe this is simply the transforming power of Christ on John’s life. John refers to himself in the gospel as the disciple whom Jesus Loved. It doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t love the others. It means that John is just so amazed that Jesus loves him. Especially when you consider who Jesus is!
And what does the prologue say? That which was from the beginning. This should utterly shock us as we get into it. The eternal. The reality that always existed. Yes. That reality. That is what we are talking about. The eternal has united with the temporary. Heaven has intersected with Earth.
Then he says that that is what we have heard. Consider what happened in Israel during the Exodus. Israel told Moses to not have God speak any more to them or they would die. Hearing was something, but hearing was not enough to reveal the awesome truth of the one they followed.
Then that which we have seen. Seeing is better than hearing in a way. If you can see and hear something, you know it better. Yet consider the case of Isaiah. He saw YHWH, the Lord of Hosts, and it did not show him yet the immense love of the one he was with. People who saw YHWH always feared that they would die.
Then though, things get personal. It becomes that which we have looked at and touched. This is a good counter to the docetic heresy that said that Jesus did not actually take on a physical body. For the ancients, the idea of deity taking on physical nature permanently was anathema. They wanted nothing to do with it.
Yet that is how intimate that Word became, and that is when it was revealed to us the intense love the Father has for us. The love so intense that as John says in 3:1, that we should be called children of God and then adds, “And that is what we are!” The news is almost too much for us.
And as I think about the use of the senses, I think of other tools we use and I ponder.
How often do I use my eyes to see the unholy instead of the holy?
How often do I use my hands to touch the unclean thing instead of the clean? (Or we could say the clean in an unclean way. Sexual intercourse is good, when done in marriage for instance.)
How often do I use my ears to listen to the unholy instead of the holy?
While my mind could think on matters that fit Philippians 4:8, how often do I use it to think on things that don’t fit?
While my heart could love the good, how often do I use it to hate the good and love the bad?
While my mouth could praise God, how often do I use it to destroy men created in his image?
All of these I ponder.
I can only pray God will transform me better to be in his image. I pray that you’ll pray that for me also as I remember to pray it for you.