Eyewitness

On August 10, 1977, serial killer David Berkowitz, infamously known as the Son of Sam, was arrested on suspicion of committing a string of murders in New York City that began in 1976. The Son of Sam had eluded police for over a year, creating an atmosphere of terror in the city. One reason that the Son of Sam proved so elusive was that the NYPD and the public were looking for a person who bore no resemblance to the actual killer. This was because a sketch that had been circulated was based on descriptions provided by witnesses who were unreliable. But, on August 4, 1977, four days after the Son of Sam killed a young couple in Brooklyn, a witness came forward who provided information that was not only reliable but also led police to David Berkowitz.

Cacilia Davis, an Austrian-born woman who came to the United States in 1955, was walking her dog near her Brooklyn apartment on the night of July 31, 1977 when a man came walking toward her. The man, who Davis recalled seemed to be holding something dark partly up his sleeve, looked her squarely in the face and then walked away. Unsettled by this, Davis ran back to her apartment where, just five minutes later, she heard the sound of gunshots. Frightened, she stayed silent until four days later, when she went to the police. In her statement, she also related seeing a police officer ticketing a car that was parked at a fire hydrant. When police investigated, they found that the car belonged to David Berkowitz, who lived in Yonkers. Davis’ description of the man she saw and her information concerning the car led to the Son of Sam’s capture. Cacilia Davis was a reliable eyewitness.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines an “eyewitness” as a “person who has seen someone or something and can bear witness to the fact.” In 1 John 1:1-3, the apostle John speaks of exactly such a person. In fact, he speaks of several people who fit that definition:

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. (1 John 1:1-3, NLT)

John and the other apostles were eyewitnesses to Jesus Christ, witnesses who heard and saw the One who existed from the beginning, the Word of Life, the Word through whom God created everything that exists (John 1:1-3). And because they had seen Jesus with their own eyes, had heard His teaching with their own ears, and had touched Him with their own hands, they were the perfect eyewitnesses to proclaim to a world in need of a Savior that Jesus was that Savior, the One who is eternal life.

The testimony of Cacilia Davis enabled the NYPD to find and capture the Son of Sam, something that brought great relief to the terrified city. But the testimony of John and the other apostles concerning Jesus Christ resulted in bringing great relief and great joy to all of mankind. Why? Because their testimony enables us to learn about the wonderful gift of salvation that comes from Jesus, who came to earth to pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind. And because, when we accept this gracious gift of God by making Jesus Lord and Savior of our lives and turn from our sins to follow Him, we are able to have fellowship with the apostles, whose fellowship is with the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because of their testimony, we are able to share in that fellowship and in the joy that these witnesses to Jesus felt.

“eyewitness.” American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company 21 Jan. 2019 https://www.thefreedictionary.com/eyewitness

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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