That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
Christianity is grounded in the historical reality of a real person named Jesus. John uses several terms to describe how real the person Jesus. We “head”, seen with our eyes, we looked; we touched with our hands. The wonderful reality about the Christian faith is it is grounded firmly in a real person. Christ, here described as “the word of life,” took to Himself flesh and blood and dwelt among us. What is comforting is that this is not about any philosophical approach that promotes ideas or concepts or guiding principles. Clearly, when we read the Scriptures there are truths, principles and wisdom to guide our life. But the foundational reality of Christianity is a person. It is not enough to just follow His teachings, like some inspirational, cult leader trying to gather a following. Jesus, as He reminded us, is: “the way, the life and the truth.” While truth does have propositional concepts that help us embrace that reality, we can never separate the person of Jesus Christ from the heartbeat of Christianity.
Jesus Christ was with the Father – the inspiration of God’s Son is that He has always existed with the Father. God’s Son did not have a beginning. He has always existed with the Father. The human person, Jesus, did have a beginning. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary and that human person had a beginning even though the substantive deposit that defined the nature of the person in that human body was the second person of the Godhead – Christ himself. This has been the point of debate and confusion for centuries and where some groups slide away from the fact that Christ has always existed with the Father (and the Spirit) for all eternity and yet, at the same time, the human person of Jesus, did have a beginning. That is why Christ has the authority to offer and be “eternal life” for all humanity.
Jesus Christ does not offer eternal life as much as He is eternal life. Christianity is not a self-help tool to help us improve our success in life. Christianity is bound up in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ so that He could redefine life for us – to transfer us from death to life (John 5:24). Because He, by nature is eternal with the Father and the Spirit, He has the capacity and authority to be eternal. Consequently, for those who submit to God through faith in Christ, He “gives” eternal life to broken human beings because He is by nature eternal. The substance of that kind of life is bound up in Christ.
Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. The focus of this text is not about believers having fellowship with one another. John virtually skips over that nuance by making this powerful, inclusive statement that all who have this eternal life, now, together, have fellowship with the Father and the Son. We love to “name-drop” occasionally. I had a chance to get Arnold Palmer’s signature at a tour event in Portland one time. For me that was pretty cool because that is the one time, I had ever been close enough to connect with a professional golfer. But Christians have the privilege to say that we know the creator of the universe. I can say with confidence that the sovereign God who created the worlds and all they contain, who made His purpose and plans for time and eternity is my friend; I know Him personally. The greatest privilege of our existence is one of the more difficult to comprehend much less appreciate. But that is the statement John communicated to these believers. OUR fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
What difference should that make? Life of joy! When we truly appreciate and value the full weight of knowing the God who created the universe then we will understand the privilege beyond words that God has given to us. We personally know the God of the Bible. We know the One who will unfold His purpose to do His will.