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 1:2
Do you know on what continent the Danube River is located? Or how about this one: If you were born on Easter, will your birthday be on a Sunday every year? These are, obviously, questions, but they aren’t just any questions. These were the pair of questions that bounced contestants off of Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader? tonight. Sadly, neither of the players turned out to be smarter than a fifth grader.
As I write this, I find myself awaiting my opportunity to go on my game show of choice, Jeopardy. A friend of mine appeared on the show years ago. He assured me that it’s a whole lot easier to answer those questions when you’re sitting on your couch than when you’re under the glow of television lights and facing down a life-sized Alex Trebek. You see, there are questions and then there are questions! It’s one thing to shout out, “The Danube River is in Europe you simpleton!” while eating hummus and chips (as I did), but when you have the fate of the world–or at least of your bank account–hinging on the answer, the pressure gets greater.
I mention this because in today’s verse, John makes the same sort of move, increasing the stakes. In 1 John 1:1, he talks about “the Word of life,” but today, we find that this isn’t just any old life he’s discussing. This is eternal life. And not only did the life just get better, but we discover that this isn’t simply the “Word of [eternal] life” but it’s the life itself, life that has come from the Father and appeared on earth. In short, this word, this life, is pretty much synonymous with God. If we have any doubt on this matter, we simply need to read John’s other great opening, the first few verses of the Gospel of John.
Lest we have any doubts about the importance of what we’re studying here, John lays it on the line. The Word of life is life itself, eternal life, and God in the person of Jesus Christ. I may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but I can understand what John’s talking about here.