Monday, April 20, 2015
John 20:30-31, Studying God's purpose!
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
When we read these verses, it almost seems like John is finishing up his gospel! Like he thought this was all he would say, and then he added one more chapter. Since all of scripture is given from God, and accomplishes His purposes, we need to pay close attention to these verses, and also to the next chapter, that we'll start next week.
These two verses are a summary -- they tell us the "what" of his gospel, the "Who" his gospel, and the "why" as well. They summarize John's strategy for his writing, the subject he wrote about, and then also tell us his purpose for writing.
John's strategy appears to have been using selected works of Jesus (his subject) which would illustrate Jesus' character, His Power, and the fact that He is the answer to our greatest needs. He tells us quite honestly that there were many other things that he could have included in his gospel, but that in carrying out his purpose (really God's purpose) he chose to leave out some things.
John had one very important purpose in mind: to present Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and to present that truth in such a compelling way that everyone who read the gospel would believe in Jesus, and receive eternal life.
Let's dive in!
When we read John's gospel, we actually only read of seven of Jesus' "signs" to His disciples, not counting the final sign, His resurrection. If we look closely at each sign, we see that it involved a person and then it showed how Christ's power can be applied to human life. So, the selection of signs that we read here is just a small collection of those that Jesus performed.
Can you imagine the burden that John must have felt? To have such a vast collection of wonders and events from the life of Christ, and to know that he, as the writer, must choose what to include, in order to accomplish God's purpose?
There's nothing in this gospel about Christ's birth, about His baptism, or about His selecting His apostles. In fact, there is not much about His ministry in Galilee, either, and you won't find even one of His parables here. There is not as much of Jesus' teaching as in the other gospels, and not much about the Lord's supper. Almost half of it is telling us about the last week of Jesus' life, and then the incidents surrounding His resurrection.
Perhaps the brevity of John's gospel (along with what people perceive as "gaps" in the other gospels), is what led to people telling and retelling stories of events which people felt had been passed over. There are many stories and legends of His life as a child, and about the rest of the years before His ministry began. Some faiths put equal emphasis on these as they do on the established Bible, and some do not.
It's unusual that the events about the greatest life in our world's history would be told in such brief detail, isn't it? If we were to compare the four gospels to what people have written on other characters in history, the Bible passages would be a tiny stack compared to the many books on the others. The books on Caesar, or on Alexander, would tower over the gospels . . . so many words written about them, and so few about our Lord. And yet . . .
. . . and yet, in spite of that, they have stamped on the minds of all people an image so well-known, so accepted, and so life-changing, that we can never see anything else like it in all of history! Many of the great figures of our world's history have alluded to His life influencing theirs!
Yes indeed, there were many other signs that John could have included, but he was guided by the Father to write what he did, and to leave out what he left out.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. (Psalm 37:23)
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will
guide you with my eye. (Psalm 32:8)
We can claim those verses for our own; they apply to us just as much as they did to David, or to John as he wrote his gospel. God will accomplish His purposes, whether He is using the scripture, or using us to witness to an unbeliever.
Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no
other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from
the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying,
“My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,”
calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a
far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed,
and I will do it. (Isaiah 46:8-11)
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me
empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for
which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Just as John was inspired to write, and accomplished God's purpose, so too can we accomplish things for Him, if we listen to His spirit guide us!