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Manifested:  Stating The Obvious - Scott Richardson

Imitation Of Christ - Scott Richardson


March 6 - 11, 2011 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.

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February 13, 2011

Stating the Obvious

Ten times in his gospel and nine times in his first letter, John uses a word that is most often translated to our English as “manifest” or “manifested.” It is also variously translated as “shining,” “show,” “appeared,” “revealed,” and “obvious.” In the case of “obvious” (1John 3:10), he uses it to show the contrast between those who are children of God and those who are children of the devil. Almost all of the time, he uses it in reference to something in relation to Jesus.

The context gives us a great indication of the meaning of the word that John used in the Greek language. Even our word in English that is most often used, “manifest,” has an interesting background. Through 17th and 16th century Italian and further back into Latin we see the concept — manifestare “make public,” manifestus “obvious.” What is John trying to get us to understand? What is so “obvious” about things related to Jesus that were “made public”?

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life — and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us — what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1John 1:1–3).

John makes it clear from the first statements in his letter that he has a right to speak about Jesus. He had heard Him. He had seen Him with his eyes. He had looked upon Him and he had handled Him with his hands. John was plainly in a position to speak concerning Jesus and His nature. Let us “see” what John proclaims as “made public.”

The first of the magnificent manifestations was the Word — the Christ (John 1:1-14; 1John 1:1). The greatness of this manifestation is shown by His nature. He was from the beginning (1John 1:1). Thus He is worthy to be heard and followed. He was manifested for a noble purpose — to take away sins. “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” (1John 3:5; cf. Luke 19:10). Also, notice “how” He was manifested: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14; cf. Luke 1:30-35).

The second of these manifestations was the manifestation of God the Father. “And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.” (John 12:44,45; cf. John 14:9). This was truly a great manifestation that we might not always grasp. Think of what the writer of Hebrews says: “And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3). Think of how Paul described Him to the Colossians: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17).

The third of these manifestations was the manifesting of life — not just any life, but “The life” and the relation to “eternal life” — “and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life …” (1John 1:2; cf. John 11:25; John 14:6). He was also the bread of life (John 6:35,48). Life is to be had in and through Him. Don’t miss this!

The fourth of these manifestations was the manifesting of the Spirit: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; … He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:12-14). It was His work to make known the message. (John 14:21; 1John 3:24). Indeed, we see it in action beginning in Acts 2. Paul was clear on this, also: “when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:4–5).

The great manifestation was also the manifestation of love. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” (1John 4:8,9; cf. John 3:16; Romans 5:6-9). Think of some of the many songs which we sing about the wondrous love which has come from God.

The great manifestation was also a manifestation of light (John 1:4–9). John also relates that “the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.” (1John 2:8). There’s our word again — this time rendered as “shining.” How obvious is that! Paul recounts that He dwells in unapproachable light (1Timothy 6:16). So, where are we when we follow Him? In the light! “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1John 1:5-7). But people must come to Him to have the light (John 5:39,40). He enables people to see. He provides the light (1Peter 2:9).

John has shown how all of these things about Jesus have been “made clear.” How “clear” is our life? We are to be “like Christ” or “of Christ” if we wear His appellation — Christian — so, are we? Is it “made public” that we are like Him? Can people see it? Is it “obvious”? It should be so that when we tell people we are a Christian, we are simply “stating the obvious.”

— S. Scott Richardson Sr.

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