1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 1:1–2:2)
God doesn’t just want to be knowable. He certainly is that. He’s gave and entrusted His precious Word to the children of Israel. He gave them His promises. He gave them worship which covered their sins and pointed forward to the promised Savior. He sent them prophets. He gave them kings. He gave them priests. In all these ways He made Himself known to His people. You could know what God, the LORD, what YHWH was like: “He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” This is how YHWH revealed Himself so that He could save all who believe in Him. God wasn’t satisfied to just be knowable. YHWH had planned and promised more.
He wants to be touchable. See-able. Hear-able. This is what St. John tells us right off the bat in his first letter: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life, that which we have seen and heard we declare to you.” The Lord blows open the door when it comes to knowing Him in the sending of Jesus, His eternal Son. God Himself comes into our midst. He could be touched. He could be seen, not just as a pillar of fire and cloud, but His smiling face could actually be seen. He could be heard, not just in a thunderous cloud from a mountain, but in a comforting voice.
All the time God appeared in a similar way in the Old Testaments were just a preview of what was to come. They were like teaser trailers. But what took place with Jesus wasn’t just some movie, but He is Immanuel—God with us. He took up on human flesh. He could be cuddled and placed in a manger. He could go into the Jordan to be baptized. He could touch and heal the sick, touch and raise the dead. He could have oil poured on His head and feat. He could have nails pierce His hands and feet. He could die. He could rise again. And He did all those things to save us.
We tend to want a God who’s knowable, but that’s it. We can keep Him at arms length. Approach Him when we want. But even now God isn’t just knowable. He’s still touchable, hear-able, see-able. It’s in a different way. But we now know and receive Jesus in water which saves us. In bread and wine which are truly His body an blood, as He says. He hear His voice. He’s still audible. We don’t need to go anywhere else to find Him, but we hear Him in the words of Absolution spoken by our pastor. As we heard in John 20: “If you forgive anyone, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, the aren’t forgiven.” Jesus’ living voice is hearable.
In all these tangible, physical ways Jesus comes to us. This is our salvation because “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” INI + AMEN.
Come, You Faithful, Raise the Strain (LSB 487)
Almighty God, grant that we, who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection, may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Easter 2, Quasimodo Geniti)