HANDLING, HEARING, SEEING

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Wednesday, July 6, 2005
1Jo.1:1-3 (1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle John here emphasizes the personal interaction that the apostles had with Jesus Christ. They had heard, seen and touched the "Word of life." That Word of life was indeed "from the beginning," not just the beginning of His public ministry or the beginning of His humanity, but from the very beginning of all! He was the Word that was in the beginning with God, was God Who made all things (Joh.1:1-3), Whose "goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Mic.5:2). THAT Word (John says elsewhere) "was made flesh, and dwelt among us..." (Joh.1:14). "God was manifest in the flesh..." (1 Ti.3:16). Whereas Satan (and his ministers) affirm that man becomes god (Gen.3:1-5), the opposite is true: God became a man. The Eternal Creator veiled His glory to be tabernacled in flesh, making "himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Phil 2:6-7). In that humbled form, God was handled, heard and seen by the likes of John. But John saw more than God in humility. He also "beheld His glory..." (Joh.1:14), glory being one's highest state of exaltation. John was one of three apostles who beheld Christ in His glorified state on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luk.9:28-31). When Peter wrote of that event, he said they were "eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pe.1:16), majesty being sovereign power, authority or dignity. Though they did not appreciate its significance at the time, they had been given a preview of Christ's glorious reign in heaven which could only come by His complete humiliation. The Spirit of Christ which moved the Old Testament prophets (2 Pe.1:21) was on point when "it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pe.1:11). "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory" (Luk.24:26)? It is interesting how John in our featured text emphasizes their visual experience of Christ more than the auditory. He twice notes what they heard, but four times notes what they saw: "seen with our eyes" (v.1), "looked upon" (v.1), "we have seen it" (v.2), "that which we have seen" (v.3). To hear of Christ is one thing, but seeing Him is another. Job once said of God, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). Paul had heard of Christ before the Damascus road, but seeing Christ in glorious light there proved to be an infinitely more convincing, more convicting experience: so much so that Paul "could not see for the glory of that light..." (Acts 22:11). The apostles had all seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:22 c/w 1 Co.15:3-5). But it would be the hearing of their experience and testimony that would have to suffice others in their adoration of the Savior, "Whom having NOT SEEN, ye love; in whom, though now YE SEE HIM NOT, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pe.1:8). For now we have faith, which comes not by seeing but by hearing (Rom.10:17). We all now, like Job, have heard of Him by the hearing of the ear but see Him only by faith "through a glass darkly..." (1 Co.13:12). But someday we shall Him "face to face" (1 Co.13:12), "when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 Jo.3:2). We shall "behold [his] face in righteousness" (Psa.17:15), even though our bodies might have long ago perished: "...yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold..." (Job 19:26-27). Then shall our faith and our unseen hope be trumped by sight (Rom.8:24-25). If the hearing of faith now generates joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pe.1:8), how great shall be our joy in that day of sight!

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