1 John 1:1 “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…”
Who are you more likely to believe – a storyteller who is reciting a tale 2nd or 3rd hand or an eyewitness to an event?
If you are just interested in a good story, then it probably doesn’t matter. But if you really want to know the facts, then a first hand source is your best bet. Otherwise the information becomes muddy, exaggerated, or sometimes completely false.
I have always loved the Little House on the Prairie books. There is something exhilarating about experiencing history through the memories and recollections of a child who actually travelled west with her family in a covered wagon and participated in taming the wild Frontier.
Recently Dad visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder house in De Smet, South Dakota. He purchased a book at the Laura Ingalls Wilder gift shop that records all the pages and notes from Laura’s memoir that was the forerunner of her popular series. Though some of the original details were modified to make the narrative flow, the true events are passed to the reader through the eyes of a young girl who actually bumped along in the back of a Conestoga wagon, huddled behind her mother’s skirts when Indians visited their little log cabin, peered through the hole in the canvas top to make sure the swimming horses could make it through the swollen river, and gathered colorful beads from the abandoned campground of the Osage Indians.
Laura was not telling a tale she had heard from someone else. She had seen, heard, felt and touched all elements of her history giving credibility to her story. At one point Laura jots a handwritten note to her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, about Pa being chased by a pack of wolves. She reveals her hesitation to put this event in the book because it seemed so far-fetched but assured Rose that the story was true. She knew because she was there.
John was one of Jesus’s closest disciples. He wrote the letter of 1 John approximately 60 years after Jesus’ death, in response to some false teachings about his Master and the work that He had come to do on earth.
Unsavory teachers were teaching falsehoods. Some were saying that Jesus was not born of a virgin. They said Mary and Joseph were His parents and, though God’s spirit entered him when he was baptized allowing him to do supernatural miracles, the spirit of God left his body before he died. After all, they said, a spirit cannot experience pain.
This was a great heresy that threatened to undermine the entire gospel message.
Forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and restored fellowship with God was impossible if Jesus had not become a human and taken our punishment. John defended the truth that Christ was fully God and fully human by pointing out that he had lived with Jesus. He had seen His human body. He had heard Him speak. He had seen the miracles. He had touched His warm flesh. He had stood at the cross when He died. He had experienced the empty tomb and beheld the risen Christ. He had firsthand experience that the eternal God had come to earth in human flesh. Those other teachers were peddling false information.
Our eternal destiny hangs on the true facts as John presents them in his letter.
There is no one alive today who has actual first hand experience of Jesus as he walked on this earth in human flesh. They have all died. But God preserved John’s testimony in the Bible so that we could hear the truth first hand from someone who was actually there.
Who are you more likely to believe? Whether it is history about the West or the truth about the Son of God I vote for the person who actually touched, saw, heard, and experienced all the facets of the story.
Verify all you hear about Jesus with the Bible, God’s word. It’s so much more reliable when you hear it from the ones who were there!