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. 1 John 1:1
If you are a believer today, you have been touched by God, and I don’t mean that in just a spiritual sense. I mean you have been touched by someone who was touched by someone who was touched by someone … all the way back to someone who, like John, saw, heard and touched Jesus, and in handling Jesus, they handled God Himself, because Jesus is God, the word made flesh. It has to be this way because the truth has been handed down personally from one generation to the next. You wouldn’t have even heard of Jesus had there not been an unbroken line of living, breathing human beings between you and Christ who touched each other and finally touched you. And, in touching someone who touched Christ — no matter how many people you put between you and Him — you have physically, not just spiritually, touched the Lord.
It’s a touchy gospel. It’s all about human flesh and blood, or, like our son Chandler said at my ordination service: It’s all about blood and skin. There is lots of blood and skin between you and God. This isn’t a fairy story — an invisible spiritual, mystical, disembodied airy thing that floated down from heaven and happened to land on you. This is an unbroken human chain of people who have all seen, heard, touched and handled the flesh and blood word of truth and personally passed it on to you. Some of them died for it. Some were persecuted for it. They all are a part of your faith; they have touched Christ, and Christ has touched you through them.
It’s all about blood and skin, and that’s going to be our theme this week from this first letter of John: the blood and skin reality of the gospel.
Last Sunday I met a woman who was 100 years old. She had just had her hundredth birthday. I talked with her, touched her, hugged her and had my picture taken with her. She was a tiny, frail thing, but lively, with a sharp mind, and a feisty nature. She was a joy. Seeing her reminded me of a thought that I had some time ago. It’s a thought that reduces time to something we can grasp, and in doing so, gives us a more immediate perspective on these blood and skin bodies we live in.
Because there have always been cultures on earth with longevity (this is not just a modern reality to live a hundred years), it is, at least theoretically possible, that since Christ was here on earth, there has been an unbroken chain of people, somewhere on the planet, who have lived at least a hundred years, and had they been able to touch each other, they would have formed a line of only 20 people between us and Christ. Think of it: 20 people between you and the word made flesh. That’s nothing. I could fit 20 people in my living room, and I have a tiny house.
So what is the meaning of this? Get into the blood and skin lives of the people around you. Touch each other, listen to each other; we are royalty; we have all touched Jesus, who came, not to save us from our skin, but to save us in our skin. He came to sanctify our existence — to give this life meaning. Not some other life … this one. And we’re going to find out about that life this week.