The purpose of this letter by John, one of the first followers of Jesus, is to give the benefit of his experience, and what he has seen, to coming generations. As the followers of Jesus spread out though the Ancient Near East, Africa, Asia, and Mediterranean there were those who became believers but didn’t have the first hand experience or the benefit of walking with Jesus personally. Some people used the developing faith as a means to their own ends, others were simply only seeing part of the picture of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. John writes from his experience, and what he has seen, so that we may accept what he knew about Jesus to be true:

Jesus—the Divine Christ! He experienced a life-giving birth and a death-killing death. Not only birth from the womb, but baptismal birth of his ministry and sacrificial death. And all the while the Spirit is confirming the truth, the reality of God’s presence at Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion, bringing those occasions alive for us. A triple testimony: the Spirit, the Baptism, the Crucifixion. And the three in perfect agreement. 1 John 5:6-8 (The Message)

Those who did believe that Jesus was both fully man and fully God, at the time of John’s writing, but sought to influence the direction of Christianity, were not giving the whole picture for people to believe in. In the distance that we experience from the historical life of Christ our modern religions can promote a partial picture of Jesus too. If we turn to the first hand accounts from those who were closest at hand, during Jesus’ life, then we see better what to believe. For John, the picture was clearest, when he thought about Jesus, when he considered how he was born, the miracle of birth by a virgin; how he was baptised by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit came on Jesus confirming him as the Son of God; and how he suffered and died as one crucified. This is a powerful testimony to encourage our faith. Not simply the words of John related to us in this letter, but the agreement of these three world transforming points of contact between heaven and earth. When Jesus was born it was the place of God coming to live among us, not in a palace or with political power but in the poorest of circumstances without any man-made influence. When Jesus was baptised it was the beginning of his work to teach all humanity how to love God and love our neighbours. When Jesus died, the horrific and bloody death of crucifixion, he gave up his life so that all humanity could receive saving grace and the undeserved favour of God. These points in Jesus’ life, highlighted by John, give a concensus by the perfect agreement of the three. What those who first followed Jesus said about him and how we believe in him, as God incarnate, Son of God, Saviour of all humanity, is powerfully supported by God’s action in Jesus’ life.

Lord Jesus, when my mind doubts and my heart is weak, because I live in a day far removed from your life on earth, let me be encouraged to see you as you are. When I am tempted to trust in parts of the picture of faith that comfort and sustain me spiritually, challenge me with the fullest picture and let me believe in the perfect testimony your birth, your baptism, and your death for me and all humanity. Amen

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