27 December 2011

1 John 1:1-10 (John, Evangelist)

"We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life." (v. 1)


Today is the feast day of John, Apostle and Evangelist. Traditionally he is associated with the Gospel and letters given his name in the Bible, and less convincingly with the book of Revelation.

The opening verses of today's passage are taken to allude to the fact that the author had actually been with Jesus during his earthly life. The experience of having been with Jesus and the eternal life which was revealed to John compels him to bear witness to these things - that others might share in them and his joy may be complete.

And at the heart of his message lies forgiveness. 'All have fallen short' (Romans 3:23) - this is taken as read - but the message he is compelled to share is that all can be forgiven, cleansed and healed.

Many of us might resist the idea that we are 'evangelists' - but if we call ourselves Christian we are at least 'witnesses' to something. Of course in the literal sense we haven't "heard", "seen with our eyes" or "touched with our hands" but some revelation has convinced us that this Jesus is worth following. The Christian calling is to bear witness to this revelation in the way we live our lives and in the things we have to say.

For John, Apostle and evangelist, the revelation was so vivid and vital that he was under a compulsion to bear witness to it. Such intensity is hard to sustain but it is aided by our willingness to nurture our relationship with God, and to open ourselves to God's revelation. Then, what we will bear witness to is something we have heard, seen and touched in a way that is living and meaningful, albeit in a metaphorical way.

To Ponder

What have you "heard", "seen" or "touched" that has revealed God to you?

What experiences have you had (in any sphere) that have compelled you to share them with others?

John places forgiveness at the heart of his testimony. What would lie at the heart of your testimony about God, when you are given opportunity to share it?

Bible notes author

The Revd Graham Jones

Graham Jones is a Methodist presbyter serving as a member of the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network in the Yorkshire Plus region of the Methodist Church, with particular responsibility for ministry development. Graham is committed to developing ministry in its broadest sense, enabling both lay and ordained to live out their vocations, and to share in God's mission in the most fulfilling and effective ways.