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.