John gives us the essence of Christianity in his preface. He writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us.” John has made it clear in the opening words of his gospel that Jesus is the “word.” The “word” was with God and was God and became flesh to dwell with us. But, this preface adds another concept to “The word.” That is “life.” He refers to Jesus as “the Word of life.” The person of Jesus is what is being proclaimed. John and the other apostles saw him with their eyes. They touched him with their hands. They heard him teach. They watched him raise Lazarus from the dead. The focus on eternal life in the preface helps us understand that Jesus was not a created being, but an eternal being. He was “with” the father from the beginning. Before there was anything at all, Jesus was. He was with the Father and one with the Father. Jesus was and is “eternal.”

Many commentators go into deep philosophical discussions on “Logos.” They explain how it’s reason itself. How it’s the communication of an important message. The Greeks used the word in many ways and John intends us to understand all of them. I’m not that deep of a thinker. To me, the “word” as well as the “word of life” is another way of identifying Jesus. Many passages in the Bible make this truth apparent to us, but it seems to me, what John is proclaiming to us isn’t just the person of Christ, but the “eternal life” of the person of Christ which is yours and mine through faith in the only eternal word of God – Jesus! John is proclaiming to us how we too partake in this “eternal” life. At the end of his epistle, John will explain why he wrote it. It’s all about Jesus and believing in Him. In 1 John 5:`12-13, he says, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

I like to ask two questions. The first one is if you die today do you know for certain that you will go to be with God in heaven for all eternity? The normal answer is “I sure hope so.” Then I like to ask, “if God were to meet you at the pearly gates and ask why should I let you in?” What would you say? The normal answer is that I’m a Christian. I’m a Catholic, or I’m a pretty good person, or I’ve done my best. But if you are basing your admittance into heaven on your good works or lack of bad works, you can never “know” as John tells us, that we are going to heaven. Many religious leaders want to keep us from “knowing” our fate so that they can manipulate us or manage us in such a way as to keep us dependent on them. God is not like that. He is not holding out a carrot trying to make us try harder. No, he accomplished all that needs to be accomplished on our behalf. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve a place in heaven. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of that standard. Our “eternal” lives are not based on what we do. It’s based on what He has done for us. The only way we can ever really “know” that we have eternal life is to trust in the message John proclaims to us. John tells us that he wrote this letter to believers so that they would “know” what lies in store for them after death. It might sound arrogant to say “I know I’m going to heaven.” It would be the most arrogant thing in the world if entry into heaven is based on how good I am and what good works or good deeds I’ve done. It’s not arrogant if it’s dependent on what someone else, Jesus, did for me. Whoever has the Son, has eternal life.