Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Beyond the Fab Four

Crash Course 8

            (No, not the Beatles. Not that Fab Four. I mean the Fabulous Four Gospels.)

            The Gospels are not the only place to read about Jesus. The New Testament epistles tell lot about him, too. Peter and John, both disciples and eyewitnesses, wrote five letters between them.

            In his first letter, Peter calls Christ a “lamb without blemish or defect…chosen before the creation of the world… " (1:19 – 20). Only a lamb used in Israel’s sacrificial system would warrant the phrase “without blemish or defect.” Peter understood the significance of Christ’s substitutionary death. Peter also speaks of the resurrection and coming return of Christ (1:3 and 1:7). 

            Peter reveals two intriguing facts about Christ that I haven’t found elsewhere in scripture. (Illuminate me if I’ve missed them.) He says the Spirit of Christ indwelt and guided the prophets who wrote about him in the Hebrew Scriptures (1:11). He also writes that after the Lord’s resurrection, he preached to spirits of the disobedient Noah-era people “in prison.” (3:19 – 20)

            That’s something coming from a fisherman.

            I always imagine Peter excitedly exclaiming, “I was there!” Fifty days after the crucifixion and resurrection, Peter told a Jerusalem crowd, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of this fact.” (Acts 2:32) Some years later when Peter wrote his second letter, he said, “We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain” (1:18). 

            I was there! I was there!

            John writes in the first few verses of his first epistle about Christ’s incarnation (taking on human flesh). “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. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard…(1:1 – 3)

            In less than 75 words, John manages to say in 7 different ways (highlighted by me) that he was an eyewitness, an earwitness, a handwitness of Christ. 

            Handwitness? Sure. Years ago in Fort Worth, Texas, I was beyond excited to shake hands with presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and his wife. I was an eyewitness, earwitness, and handwitness of the future president. 

            How much more memorable for John to have rubbed elbows with the Messiah in a fishing boat, to have passed him the bread at a meal, to have leaned against him as the disciples all reclined in Jewish fashion around the Passover table. To those who were beginning to deny the Incarnation, John could say, “Hold it right there. I touched him. He was really here.”
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth. John 1:14, NKJV


  1. A wonderful truth-beautifully written.

  2. How wonderful it must have been to be an eyewitness/earwitness/handwitness. It's also pretty cool to be a heartwitness. Great post.

  3. That reminds me of Peter's phrase (in KJV) "whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7 - 9)
    There were many eyewitnesses who never believed; some even helped to crucify Jesus. And here we are, with no eyewitness experience, apparently like Peter's readers, coming to faith anyway.