The Fruit of Fellowship with Christ
A Series on the Fruit, Benefit, & the Joy of Walking With Christ
The Prologue: The Reality of the Incarnation
The Appetizer – let’s stimulate interest
What is a foundation?
What does a foundation do?
How does a foundation differ from a cornerstone?
Why are foundations and cornerstones so significant?
The Adaptation – let’s adapt the appetizer to our lesson
Tonight I intend to continue to share with you what the Apostle John considered to be the heart, or the cornerstone of the gospel, namely, that eternal life has been made manifest in the historical incarnate Son of God.
The Argument – let’s discover the main idea of our lesson
This prologue sets forth as part of the cornerstone of the Christian Faith as the means or manner by which to test and expose false doctrine as John declares the reality of the apostolic encounter with the incarnate Word of Life since he heard Jesus Christ in the flesh with his own ears.
The Aim – the change you need to make as a result of this lesson
To challenge you to confidently accept John’s assertion that Jesus was truly incarnated in the flesh
Since he was real and not an allusion he is the only mediator between God and man – accept him as a mediator
Last week we began our examination of what is commonly called or known as the Prologue. We find John’s prologue in verses 1-4. Last week I tried to
draw your attention to three very important thoughts:
A. John by-passes all the form of a letter and jumps right in with a very profound prologue.
[We saw that he did this in two ways. The first way…]
1. John reiterated the foundation of the Christian message
The foundation of the Christian message is that eternal life has been revealed in the incarnate Son of God. In other words, Eternal life is not and cannot be found in any other source.
2. John reinforced the foundation of our Christian faith
The foundation of our Christian faith is the cardinal truth that if the incarnation is not real then there is no Christian faith or message! We would be as Paul said, “Men most miserable!”
[The Second thought was…]
B. John by-passes all the form of a letter and jumps right in with a very powerful prologue.
[I wanted you to notice two things about the intensity of this prologue. The first thing…]
1. This prologue forms a very long sentence.
Depending on the manuscript that is used for translation, these four verses are one very long sentence or possibly two long sentences in the Greek.
The first three verses form one long sentence and verse 4 forms a second sentence in some translations.
[This is unusual for John for a couple of reasons.]
First – this is very unusual for John to be so complicated
John is not a complicated writer. He is very simplistic. This is why we love his writings so much and why we usually start new believers with John’s writings. He takes very profound topics and expresses them so simplistically. He is an easy read. Not here, we have a long, intense, an complicated sentence.
Second – it seems he just got caught up in the subject matter
[The second thing to notice about this prologue is the fact that…]
2. The Prologue is very deep with information that we need to grasp
[Finally, the third thought I wanted to draw your attention to, was…]
C. John by-passes all the form of a letter and jumps right in with a very purposeful prologue.
John’s purpose is to refute the error and false teaching of the false teachers who have been troubling the churches with the denial of the factual and actual incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We take careful note that in this very profound, very powerful, and very purposeful prologue John declares the reality of the incarnation to be truly real.
[So, we move from the first clause ...which was from [the] beginning to
the second clause…]
2B …which we have heard – o akhkoamen
[verb is 2nd per act ind]
I have said this before, but let me say it again in order to keep it fresh in our minds – these remaining three clauses, including this one, depict different aspects of John’s experience with Jesus, who is the incarnate Christ. Together these clauses declare the fact of the incarnation as something that is firmly grounded in historical reality.
With these three clauses John includes himself among those who experienced these personal encounters with the incarnate Christ.
The verb is used by John to testify to the fact that John actually received revelations from Jesus that were made in ways that human beings could understand.
The message that Jesus preached was presented by a living, historical person.
Jesus was a person who spoke as a person spoke. John heard Jesus talk with his own ears.
This verb includes all the speeches or “speaking” of Jesus to the apostles. John first heard about Jesus and then heard him personally or in person, which caused John to follow Jesus.
What John heard left a lasting impact on him. It transformed him. These “speakings” that John heard as a normal human being assured him that Jesus was the incarnate Son of God who was sent by the Father.
This verb “have heard” is used in the perfect tense. It means what John heard, actually still has an effect on him at this time; at the time of this writing. What John heard still “rings” in John’s ears. John still remembers what Jesus said.
What you hear from Jesus you now hear when you read His word. What you hear should have a lasting impact on you. These words of Jesus should transform your live, more specifically your character, more and more into the very image, or more specifically the character of Jesus.
The first clause established the reality of the incarnation.
The second clause establishes John’s relationship with Jesus by the act of hearing. The relationship was established based on what he heard.
[Let’s look at the third clause…]
3B …which we have seen with our eyes – o ewrakamen tois ofqalmois hmwn
The verb declares the visual experience John had with the incarnate Christ. John saw Jesus with his very own eyes. This verb implies intellectual apprehension of the significance of what John saw. John knew who and what he was seeing.
This was no spirit, no ghost, and it was no phantom. This was no vision or allusion.
Remember, this is what the false teachers were teaching. Jesus just seemed to appear, he was a ghost or allusion. They denied he was a real man.
Again this is a perfect tense verb; John states that what he had seen still lingers in his mind. In John’s mind’s eye he could still see the living person Jesus Christ. He could see his body, his head, his arms, his legs, and his face, etc.
The incarnation is vital to the Christian message. John assures his readers that Jesus was real. John saw him with his own two eyes!
John says we, all the apostles, but especially John, we have heard him speak and what he said still lingers with me. I have looked at him and what I see still lingers with me. What I saw and heard was not a ghost.
[Let’s look at the final clause of verse one…]
4B …which we have looked upon and have handled with our hands concerning the Word of life
ai ceires hmwn eyhlafwqh peri tou logou ths zwhs
This clause gives further evidence from sight and touch for the reality of the incarnation.
The phrase – have looked upon- is not a repetition of the preceding phrase, have seen. This verb gives the idea of a very intelligent looking-upon which interprets the significance of what is being seen.
In other words, this verb is used by John to assure his readers that when he looked at, or gazed strongly at Jesus, John knew that he was seeing a real live person and not a ghost, or spirit, or apparition.
Remember the false teaches were teaching believers that Jesus was not real, he seemed to be real, but was really a spirit or ghost.
This verb always when used in the New Testament means a literal, physical sense of careful and deliberate vision which “interprets” its object.
When you look at the ground and see a group of thorny stocks supporting beautiful and colorful shaped objects, as you look you interpret what you see as a rose bush. You do not interpret those green thorny stocks supporting colorful objects as giraffes.
In other words; the disciples including John, so scrutinized Jesus that they had no doubts of the fact that Jesus was real and that Jesus was a real man.
You and I can have full assurance on the reality of Jesus incarnation because John testifies to it with full assurance and absoluteness.
[John goes on to say…]
…and have touched with our hands
This phrase is used by John to give the final evidence to his readers that Jesus was really real. John not only heard and saw Jesus, John touched Jesus. This was a personal experience. John had physical contact with Jesus that resulted in John knowing that Jesus was not a ghost but was a real human being.
By the way this is the same verb that Jesus used after His resurrection when he challenged the disciples to prove he was real and not a ghost. Some think that is a reference to the experience Jesus and the disciples had with Thomas. So, Lias writes:
“No one could have been a witness of the scene between our Lord and [ST] Thomas without having the whole even indelibly impressed upon his mind. So here we have a striking reference to that scene.”
Remember John is not proving the resurrection of Jesus but that Jesus was really and truly a flesh and bone living human being.
So, with four clauses and a specific verb John makes quite a statement. John’s statement affirms the reality of the incarnation – or the reality that Jesus was really a human being and not just a ghost or a spirit.
Thus, we have examined The Encounter of John.
[So, what do you say we wrap this up?]
The false teachers were telling these believers that the Christ didn’t really
John emphatically like a witness under oath in the witness stand says, this
personal, pre-existent, and eternal life was manifested or demonstrated to us
– the apostles – in the person of Jesus the Christ.
The repetition of the verb “was manifested” shows John’s intent to highlight
and emphasize this fact as a historical reality.
Jesus is more than an principle, an abstract force, a good teacher, a Rabbi, or
an example – He is the Christ. John and the apostles saw him, heard him,
and touched him.
If he is the Christ then you and I need to make sure that we:
1) Have a relationship with Him that effectively saves us
2) Discover his design for our lives and obey that design