When I was thirteen years old, I was a member of Boy Scout Troop #62 in Southern Idaho. We met every Monday night in a rural Grange Hall. At one of those meetings we heard the firsthand account of Jim Whitaker, a world renown mountaineer who was the first American to successfully climb Mount Everest. In my eyes, this man was larger than life and my attention was riveted on his every word, especially when he shared how he and his Sherpa guide after running out of oxygen, persevered and climbed to the summit.
I have always loved hearing and reading firsthand accounts, this may explain why I have read so many autobiographies over the years. I would much rather hear the account of the one who “was there” than hear their story told by another. I believe that this is why something stirs deep within my heart when I read the firsthand accounts of men who personally spent time with Jesus of Nazareth.
Listen to these words from John the Apostle, “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 (Jesus), 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…” (I John 1:1-3).
John’s words take my breath away. This isn’t, he said, or she said, or they said. These are the words of one who was in the boat with Jesus, one who sat around the campfire with Jesus, one who walked the dusty roads of Palestine with Jesus. John heard Jesus’ words firsthand, just like I heard the words of Jim Whitaker firsthand.
I also love the following words that were written by that other fisherman apostle, Simon Peter, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased’ and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (II Peter 2:16-18).
I hate to belabor my point, but my friend, these are the words of two men who were there! They heard! They saw! They touched! And they experienced all of this both before and after Jesus had died on the Cross and was again resurrected from the dead. Before and after testimony, from the pens of men who were there. Firsthand testimony doesn’t get any better than this.