… verified it with our own hands … (MSG)
… our hands have touched … (KJV)
A final thought, I think, about this part of the passage.
Scholars say part of John’s purpose with writing First John was to defeat the heresy of the gnostics, who contended that Jesus only appeared to be a man, but was in fact 100% spirit. The gnostics thought that spirit was good, and material was bad. Thus anything you could touch, anything solid, was bad.
They contended Jesus, God the Spirit, came here looking like a man to get our attention and give us directions about how we, too, could become 100% spirit. They liked Him as a Savior and God, but didn’t want Him to be a man. John here is proving that Jesus had substance and was not simply spirit – he knows it because he touched him.
I like this, not only because it silenced the gnostics of the day, but also because it makes plain that Jesus didn’t have some unknown and unattainable (for us) “God strength,” but was fully human and able to follow God’s plan for his life simply by staying close to God, in all His human-ness. This is encouraging for those of us who don’t feel super-human.
It also shows us how much God loves us little material beings. He wants us to touch each other, and thus express love for one another. Just as we were discussing last week, Jesus is touched when we touch one another with compassion, tenderness and mercy. Our bodies are His body, too.
I read that:
Daniel Keltner, the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, says “in recent years, a wave of studies has documented some incredible emotional and physical health benefits that come from touch. This research is suggesting that touch is truly fundamental to human communication, bonding, and health.” (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201010/why-have-we-lost-the-need-physical-touch)
I think Jesus knew all this when He created us, as physical beings, to love and to touch. No wonder John goes out of His way to remind us to touch Jesus.