See? I told you

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… that which we have seen with our eyes … (Young’s Literal Translation)

But wait. There’s more …

Yes, we can see Jesus in the people who surround us, those we’re given a chance to serve, because He said when we touch their lives, we are touching Him (Matthew 25:40).

And we can see Him by spending more and more time with Him, because then we become familiar with all His ways, and get an image of who He is.

And because we are seeing Jesus as He truly is, and becoming more and more like Him (1 John 3:2), it makes sense that we “see Him” with our own eyes in another place, too: in the mirror. You are becoming Jesus, the closer you walk with Him, the more you follow Him, the longer you pursue Him and devote yourself to Him.

You may not think so right now, but He is within you, and when you look at yourself, you see Him. It comes on you slowly … the letting go of stuff that once seemed so important, the realization that there’s really only one important thing, the acknowledgement that with Jesus you have everything – and without Him you have nothing.

Then one day you’re handing your last dollar to a pan-handler, embracing that weird guy at church like a brother, or offering a ride to a stranger, and when you glance in your rear-view mirror, you see Jesus’ eyes looking back at you.

Rob Bell said the Apostle Paul sees Jesus in the “spiritual rock” of the Old Testament, in part because “the Apostle Paul sees Jesus everywhere.” I have that same tendency, to see Jesus everywhere, because I believe He is everywhere. But I know that He’s inside of me, working His way out now and then when I’ll get out of the way, and I’ve seen Him.

John had seen Jesus with His own eyes. I have, too. In the people around me, and the mirror in front of me. You have, too. And you’ll be seeing more and more of Him, the longer you walk at His side.

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See here

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We saw him with our own eyes … (NLT)

We get that John saw Jesus with his own eyes. I hope by now you get that I believe the more time we spend alone with Jesus, pursuing Him, the better we see Him – and when we see Him as He is, we become like Him, per 1 John 3:2.

But there’s one more thing to add here (probably thousands more things if we continue to meditate on this passage!). It reminds me of beloved Henri Nouwen’s contention that the goal of a believer’s life is, or ought to be, to see Jesus in the face of every person with whom we come in contact.

Yes, John saw Jesus in the flesh when He made His appearance here as a perfect Man to bring us rescue and resurrection … but we can see Jesus, too, when we see Him in the people who surround us. Jesus implied that when we serve “the least of these my brethren” (Matthew 25:40), we serve Jesus Himself.

Doesn’t it follow, then, that when we see the “least of these,” we are seeing Christ Himself?

Nouwen devoted a couple of his final years to caring for one of the severely disabled residents of the home where he served as chaplain. He spent a couple hours every day getting Adam up, showered, dressed, fed …

Now there must have been other, perhaps more qualified, care-takers who could have done this so that the brilliant writer and theologian Nouwen could have devoted himself to his more important work. But Nouwen insisted on doing this for a man who could not thank or acknowledge him, who wasn’t verbal or able to respond in any way.

And Nouwen said that all the benefits of the friendship flowed one way – from Adam, to him. He was enriched by the service he did, because he saw Jesus, helpless and needy, in Adam, and had the privilege of caring for him.

John bears witness in this passage to what he had seen with his own eyes: Christ on earth. I would say Henri Houwen saw Him, too. And so can you.

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Do you see what I see?

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… our own eyes have seen … (CEV)

We saw him with our own eyes … (NLT)

… we have seen with our eyes … (KJV)

Not only, John says, did we hear Jesus with our own ears, we saw Him with our own eyes!

Well, honestly, we didn’t expect anything else, did we? We’ve read John’s Gospel; it’s apparent he was right there with Jesus. So why, now, is John repeating himself, to assure us that he is indeed, an eye-witness to the Savior’s life on earth?

There’s that. I think, he just wanted to remind people that this was no myth or fairy tale, that he had seen it for himself and could give an honest recounting of what he’d seen. But perhaps the Holy Spirit also guided him to place this here for other reasons …

Anyone can hear Jesus today, I believe, if we’re driven to it, if we are at the end of our rope and turn to Him in hopelessness and heartache, and wait silently for Him to comfort us, if we let go of all the noise in our life so that we can hear. So perhaps John was saying, in addition to hearing Jesus, as you who come after may do, I actually saw His physical form. Fair enough.

There’s also the concept from 1 John 3:1-3 … that seeing Jesus as He is makes us become like Him. John was saying, he had seen Jesus; perhaps he was setting up what he would write later, that seeing Jesus as He is launches the process of our becoming Jesus.

I don’t know where you are in the progression. Do you hear His voice? Have you begun to get a sense of His face, His mannerisms, His humor, His essence? The more you do, the more closely you walk with Him, the more clearly you will see Him.

And in seeing Him, become like Him.

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Have you heard?

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We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard… (NLT)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard … (KJV)

We already know John heard what Jesus said – he wrote a whole Gospel about all that he heard Jesus saying; and he records in it more of the day to day doings of Jesus than any other Gospel-writer. So we expect that he heard what Jesus said. Why is he telling us this, again?

What, exactly, is John’s deal? His little nickname, beloved disciple, tells us. John is all about love. Later in this same book he tells us that God is love (1 John 4:8). So I think , maybe here he wants us to know, in hearing Jesus speak, we hear the voice of love! Just listen to the old hymn, “Draw Me Nearer” …

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee …

She heard His voice – and it told of love! Consider that Fanny Crosby, the author of this hymn, was blind. Her primary way of sensing and processing information would have been to hear it. And when she heard the voice of Jesus, she heard love. That “hearing” was her experience of Christ, and it told His love for her.

Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend.

This is my experience of what it is to hear Jesus, too. Pure delight of communing, friend to friend. I believe that the beloved disciple, although he wanted to stress that He had heard the words of Jesus when Jesus was a Man on earth, would also want us to apprehend that we, now, may also hear His voice.

And it tells His love for us. Think about that today – and listen for His voice!

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Heard!

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That which was from the beginning, which we have heard … (Douay Rheims)

Our ears have heard … (CEV)

… we heard it with our own ears … (MSG)

No, I mean you really can hear Jesus! Not just hear His Word in Scripture, or hear “from Him” when the pastor speaks or a friend tells you something that hits home with you …

I think the apostle stresses this fact, that he had heard the Word of Life for Himself, in part so you will know that you, too, can hear Him.

Under the Old Covenant, in the Old Testament, the children of Israel didn’t want to hear from God directly. He was a pillar of fire, and He had caused plagues on Egypt, and they were frankly afraid of Him, even though He was on their side, and they were glad to have Moses go up the mountain and talk to Him, and just tell them what God said.

But here in 1 John 1:1-4, John is showing us that with this New Covenant, the one written in the blood of the sacrifice of Christ, we can hear God for ourselves, and we don’t have to be afraid. He’s not a pillar of fire (unless we need Him to be), and no intermediary needs to stand between Him and you.

We can go to Jesus, on our own, for ourselves, and receive from Him the words of life intended for us alone, because He loves us and longs to speak with us. We can hear His words, just as John did. Don’t doubt this, and don’t second guess it.

When you spend time alone with Jesus, in silence, every day, and invite Him to come and meet with you, He will come. What He has to say may not be what you want to hear, because at first I imagine His primary business will be to walk back into the past with you and heal those hurts and hang-ups that keep your heart from being whole.

It may not be fun … at first … but it will be real, and it will transform you. I hope you’ll give it a try. Listen for Jesus. I know He will speak to you.

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You hear that?

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That which was from the beginning, which we have heard … (Douay Rheims)

Our ears have heard … (CEV)

… we heard it with our own ears … (MSG)

Rastafarians say “word-sound is power.” Hearing is believing. Or at least, hearing is considering.

John here testifies to the fact that he, personally, had heard Jesus speak when the Savior was a living Man on earth. We should believe John, he is saying, because he was an ear-witness to the words of the Lord.

Let me tell you something shocking, though. I hear Him, too. And so can you. This was the gift John Eldredge gave me when I read his book, Waking the Dead. He said God wanted to speak to me, through the people around me, through the Scriptures, through everyday life and circumstances – and by actually speaking to me.

Not audio words that anyone else can hear, but a still, small voice in my head, in my heart. When I discovered this, when it began to happen, it really was like “waking the dead,” because I was in such desperation emotionally and spiritually. The little voice of the Christ inside me was like a spring of water in a parched desert.

It began to trickle over the hard ground, and soon swelled into a raging torrent that carried me away to the sea of love in which I dive and swim and live today.

Maybe you have to be half-dead, or mostly dead, to try the insane experiment of attempting to hear the voice of Jesus. I don’t know. I do know this is the season of resurrection, Easter season! If you’ve been feeling dead inside, or mostly dead, I encourage you to let Jesus raise you up.

When you hear His voice, everything changes, slowly at first, like my little trickle of life in the desert, but then faster and faster until you’re swept away! No wonder the beloved disciple wanted to make it clear that he had heard the voice of Jesus – he wants you to hear it, too.

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A very good place to start

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We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning … (NLT)

That which was from the beginning … (Young’s Literal Translation)

The Word of life always was living, even from the beginning … (Worldwide English)

This is a little theme with John – remember He begins His Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” Why does he reinforce this here, why is it so important for us to realize Christ is, from the beginning, the Word of God?

I believe John wanted us to know that Christ’s arrival here, as a Man, who would die on a cross, was no thrown-together plan to rescue us after everything went wrong in creation, some kind of knee-jerk reaction to the enemy’s introduction of sin to this planet.

I think he wanted us to know that Christ’s sacrifice for us was not “Plan B” for earth. God didn’t create everything in the beginning with the hope that humanity would never sin and Jesus’ death would never be required. What kind of God would He be if He couldn’t foresee what would happen here?

I think John wants us to know that Christ with God, the Word of God, was and is present at the beginning, in the middle and at the end … That the perfect plan for our salvation was part of the perfect plan of creation. “That which was in the beginning.”

After all, we’re told Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). How could He be “Plan B,” the back-up plan forced on God by the devil? Jesus was, and is, the first plan and best hope for our eternal life.

John, the beloved apostle, grasps this, and seems to think it important enough to remind us often that Jesus, the Word – without whom nothing that is made was made – was always with God, and is Himself God … and God is love (1 John 4:8), and He loves YOU!

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