1 John 1:1-4
Twelve years this Wednesday, 2 airplanes hit the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Another flew into the Pentagon while a fourth plane was crashed in Pennsylvania. If you were alive and older than a young child, you likely remember that day. You may remember first hearing the news. You may remember watching the events of that tragic day unfold. Most of us experienced Sept 11 through a TV screen. But our experience and understanding might change if we knew or talked to someone who was actually there.
I had that privilege a few years ago at the Preaching retreat I attend in Wisconsin. One of our colleagues serves a church in New Jersey about half an hour west of Manhattan. He was at the church that day. After the towers were hit, people went outside to watch events unfold. About a half hour later, the strong smell of jet fuel dominated the air. He said he would never forget that smell. He went on to describe an off duty firefighter from their community who went to help and died trying. As his voice broke in emotion, he brought me closer to the events of that day.
You may have had a similar experience when listening to someone talk about the holocaust or World War 2. Or if you’ve listened to your parents or grandparents describe their lives, you’re somehow drawn closer to their time and those events because you’re talking to eyewitnesses.
But how do we get close to Jesus? It’s not like you can just call up one of the disciples and ask them what he was like. You can’t visit Jesus’ mother in the senior’s home to hear about his childhood. None of us were at the cross or lived in Jerusalem during Jesus’ life. Is there a way for us to get close to Jesus and His life?
Today, we’re going to meet someone who was there. We’re going to begin a journey with Jesus’ very close friend who wanted people like you and me to know Jesus and draw near Him. But he does not just offer his insights in case we’re interested. He claims that we must listen to his message if we want to have any fellowship or connection to Jesus at all. How can he claim that? Why does he say we have to listen to his testimony or we can’t know Jesus? Isn’t that a little brash? Who was this guy anyway?