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— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)The world was dark, filled with shadows. Though fire could be summoned, it still required fuel to burn, one that had to be bought or gathered. Though the sun, free to all, would certainly rise, darkness was just as sure to follow.
Night and the darkness it brings is a universal human experience. Night is when the thief comes. It's when the normal sounds of day become suspicious. Mysterious and unknown, darkness is a veil, beyond which the eye cannot see.
In the introduction to his gospel, John writes of Jesus that He is the "true light, which gives light to everyone" (John 1:9). It is this light that John saw. He didn't merely see Christ illumined by the sun's rays, but he saw Christ fully illumined. In a spectacular display that we cannot fully grasp with our understanding, John saw Christ in his glory on the mount of transfiguration.
Sight is just one sense. John also writes that he heard Christ. Not only that, but John says that he touched Christ with his hands. This is something more intimate. There is light, and there is darkness; but there is something even deeper to the human experience. There is the cold shunning, and there is the warm embrace. John had reclined upon the bosom of Christ in that final hour before Golgotha (John 13:23). He had not merely heard the Saviour, nor merely seen Him, but he had come into direct contact with God Himself, condescending in human flesh.
It is the message of this Christ, whom John, fully aware of in every human sense, proclaims in his letter. The One who was with the Father Himself— who is the word of Life— it is the message of that King whom John seeks to set before us. And why does John do so? "So that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
John came into contact with Christ, and though we cannot travel back in time to see our Saviour in His incarnation, we can experience what John experienced through his writings. We too can hear the words of our Saviour. We too can look upon our Saviour. And though we may not be able to touch our Saviour with our hands, we can come into contact with Him in a way John never experienced during Jesus' earthly ministry— through the Spirit who has been given to us.