A WORD ABOUT THE WORD
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1: 1-2)
There is no testimony more powerful than that of an eyewitness. He was there. He saw it happen and he relates the details of the event with a measure of accuracy as his eyes and ears took it in and his brain processed the information. Of course, not every eyewitness’s story is exactly the same. Each one saw if happen from a slightly different geographical position and each one interpreted the details through his grid of understanding.
Some eye witnesses are more observant than others. They will pick up details which others miss. Others think they saw this when they actually saw that. But when one puts all the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, a clear and credible story begins to emerge. Most of the details correspond and overlap, making the story realistic and credible and can be accepted as an accurate account of what happened.
Why did the Holy Spirit orchestrate four gospels to be written? Some of the details in their accounts of Jesus’ life overlap; other bits differ slightly or even contradict, but the overall story is accurate and believable. Each of the gospel writers had a different purpose for telling His story and therefore it is understandable that they would have had different emphases and that they would have arranged their material differently.
Matthew presented Jesus as the King of the Jews, the fulfilment of prophecy and God’s promised Messiah. Chronology and details were not as important as his overall purpose and were fitted into the bigger picture. He was careful to record those parts of his information which highlighted Jesus’ identity as the King of the Jews.
Mark’s message was that Jesus came as the Servant of Yahweh. He included nothing about His birth or early childhood. He told us much about Jesus’ actions and little about His teaching. A servant is busy doing the will of his master, rather than teaching others about him.
Luke, the doctor, focussed on Jesus’ humanity. He was very much the Son of Man. This aspect of Jesus was real but not the only meaning of His identity since Son of Man was also a Messianic title. The Holy Spirit featured prominently in Luke’s story because, as a human being, Jesus did nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was a real man, hungering, weary at times, eating and drinking and experiencing the whole range of human emotions.
When we get to John’s writings, which include his gospel, his letters and the book of Revelation, a much broader Jesus emerges, a man, yes, but much more than a man. John wrote in later years and had time to process the information he remembered about this Jesus. He could only reach one conclusion – He was indeed the Son of God.
He began his first letter to unknown recipients with words of affirmation and reassurance. What he had to say to them was based on eyewitness facts. He employed words which conveyed the activities of the senses – seen, heard, touched – sensory experiences which registered in his memory indelibly. Was it not John who leaned against Jesus at the supper table, hearing His hear beating in His chest, feeling the warmth of His body against his own?
Did he not see miracles happen,; deaf ears opened, blind eyes seeing, paralysed limbs functioning again and even the dead coming back to life? Did he not hear the resounding cries of his dying Lord from the cross? Did he not look with horror on the one who was pierced with a Roman spear until the last drops of His blood spilled on the ground? Did he not hear the words of the Roman centurion who pronounced that his Master was dead? Did he not gaze in wonder at the gaping wounds in the hands and feet of his risen Lord?
No one could deny what he had seen and heard and, on the solid foundation of eyewitness facts, he made his declaration to his readers. If Jesus said what He said, and did what He did, and then He fulfilled His predictions about His own death and resurrection, who could contradict what He taught about Himself and His mission?
No other human being in history who created a religion around himself or out of his own imagination could back up the ramblings of his mind with indisputable historical fact. Many skeptics have tried to disprove the resurrection of Jesus on legal grounds and have come away convinced of the truth of the Biblical record.
The bottom line is: Jesus was the Son of God. He came from the Father. He was God’s complete and final Word to humanity. Everything He said and did confirmed His identity. He brought us life through His death and resurrection. Those who believe in Him have eternal life and, though they die physically, they live eternally in the fullness of God’s presence and glory.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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