- I just preached out of 1 John 3:16-18 and 4:18-21 this past Sunday, which, by the way, blew my mind. I am not sure I have a great grasp on this love thing just yet.
- We, as a local church, have seen God’s direction in this season to specifically keep our eyes focused on the two great commandments – loving God and loving one another (Matthew 22:34-40). I knew John’s first letter talks about agape love a lot (45 times).
Thus, I found myself with the text open to 1 John. After reviewing some introductory thoughts to the letter itself, I dove into verse 1 of chapter 1. And, you know, I didn’t even get past verse 1.
There are a lot of special things about the first verse. We see John describes the Christ, the Son of God, as ‘that which was from the beginning’. It’s probably not referring to Christ’s birth, nor the beginning of His earthly ministry. Rather, it is most likely referring back to THE beginning, in the sense of being with the Father from all eternity. This introduction phrase in John’s letter seems like it could be summed up with the words, ‘That which has always been.’ And I think the connection is further solidified by the phrases ‘word of life’ and ‘which was with the Father’, both of them used later on in verses 1 and 2. These words definitely take us back to the beginning of John’s Gospel. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself…
John, then, goes on to share in the first verse that he, along with some others, actually got to hear, see, look upon and touch Christ Himself. Wow! Can you imagine being one of those? I’m looking forward to my opportunity in the future when I pass on to be with Him or He returns to marry us!
But, the thing that hit me the most from verse 1 is John’s description of the Son of God as the ‘word of life’. It’s quite a beautiful phrase, isn’t it? The Word of Life, or the Logos of Zoe (using a little Greek). And, of course, the word Logos does take us back to John’s Gospel where we read:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)
This wording in the prologue of John’s Gospel is very similar to some of the things we read early on in John’s first epistle. This is the Christ, the Son of God, the incarnate divine One who took on flesh for our sake. This kind of truth that John pens in John 1:1-5, when truly grasped, can bring one to tears. This is the Logos, the Word. There is no other Word like Him.
Moving back into 1 John 1:1, not only is Christ the Word, but He is the Word of Life. This refers to zoe life, which is the life of our soul/spirit. It is in contrast to the bios life, which is our physical life. It is not to negate or downplay our physical life, for that was created by God as well (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:13). But there is something fresh in the zoe life of God, the spiritual life. And, it is the Christ, God in the flesh, which is that Word of Zoe, that Word of Life.
I keep thinking of the practicalities of what this meant for the Son of God as he trod the dusty roads of Galilee, Samaria and Judea. I can only imagine that, as the Word of Life, every word that came from His mouth was life-giving. After Jesus proclaimed the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 in a Nazareth synagogue one day, the people responded by saying:
And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. (Luke 4:22)
Or, after Jesus had just finished grossing everyone out by declaring that, if people wanted real life, they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, a lot of people started to slowly disappear. They realized the cost of following Jesus might be a little too much for them. He was a little too radical. (See the full story in John 6:41-71).
Thus, with many exiting stage left, Jesus turns to the twelve and asks, ‘Do you want to leave as well?’ This is where Peter answers:
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68-69)
Yes, He and He alone has the words of life eternal! That is truth par excellence!
To hear Jesus speak would have been one of the most amazing experiences I am sure. But, we must keep in mind that Jesus was not just the Word of Life then, but He is still the Word of Life today. I am convinced that Jesus still desires to and does speak to His people. Nope, we are not always listening, and true, some do not even believe He still speaks. Nevertheless, Jesus is still speaking those gracious words, those words of eternal life, for the One who is the Word of Life can only do such.
Thus, before I even listen and tune my heart to hear the Word of Life, I simply adore and worship the One who was, is and always will be the Word of Life. It’s a beautiful phrase John used to describe this One he was able to hear, see and touch. This is the One who, by the Spirit, breathed the very words we read in 1 John. This is the eternal Word of Life.
Oh, Word of Life, you are our life, you speak life, we want to breathe in Your life and hear your words of life. Here we are…