Many other things – John 21:25

The Gospel of John ends with these words,

And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

John records several miracles or “signs” as he likes to call them in order to draw attention to the Messiahship of Jesus. There is much teaching, much discussion, and many activities that John wants us to know about. Now, however, this Gospel comes to and end.

Not only does the Gospel of John end here, but John, being the last of four Gospels, completes the inspired record of Christ’s life. Jesus did much more than all this. The world itself could not contain the books, let alone this limited collection that we have in the New Testament. He continues his work today, thereby adding more and more to the story as history marches on.

There is no need or opportunity for any of us to write our own Gospel. It would be silly if we did. There is much opportunity, though, for us to reflect upon what Christ has done. Consider the moment you first came to faith in Christ. List five or ten instances of answered prayer. Think about the fact that you know Christ and that he is the source of eternal life. As such, that life will go on forever, which means there will always be more to tell. There are those times, and for me they are many, when the main person we need to tell is ourselves.

If we pause to thank our Lord for giving us eternal life and the circumstances that led to it, we can more firmly establish our relationship with him. If we think back each day and thank him for answered prayer, we develop a posture of gratitude, which is sort of the opposite of greed. And if we consider that there are many more things to come, even more than we can imagine, we develop a hopeful outlook toward the future. All of these things together will help us as we face each new day.

My Lord and my God – John 20:26-28

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

History has somehow given Thomas the nickname Doubting Thomas. Maybe it is at least a little bit deserved, since he wanted to not only see, but touch, the risen Jesus before he would believe. Then again, all his friends had already had a resurrection appearance of Christ. Nobody likes to be the only one left out.

When Jesus appears among them again eight days later, the Lord singles Thomas out asking him to touch his wounds. Thomas’s response is one of the clearest declarations of the deity of Christ anywhere in the Bible.

“My Lord and my God” is not just an exclamation pointed at a God who is only God knows where. It is an expression of worship directed at Jesus who is standing right before the previously doubting apostle. And, as he is prone to do, Christ accepts the worship of his follower.

In a society and religious culture that essentially defined monotheism for the world, Jesus is willing to be worshiped. Thomas is willing to worship him and proclaim him his Lord and God. We also may be aware that a similar designation, Dominus et Deus, was applied to the Roman emperor Domitian, who likely was on the throne at the time of John’s writing.

This is then a pointed statement. No one deserves the titles “My Lord and my God” other than Jesus. To worship him is not only appropriate, it is required.

Christ’s finished work – John 19:28-30

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

To the very end, Christ was in control of the situation. We might be reminded of what he said back in John 10:17-18.

17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Fully conscious that it was time for his life to end, “that all was now finished,” he utters the words “I thirst.” to fulfill the Scripture. We might here go back to Psalm 69. In v.3 it says, “my throat is parched.” Later in v.21, “for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Christ’s entire life, including his death on the cross was death on the cross was tied firmly to the Jewish Scriptures.

His sacrificial death comes with the words, “It is finished.” He then gave up his life.

In Luke 12:50, Jesus said,

I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 

That “baptism” was finally accomplished here on the cross. His work was complete. The prophecies were fulfilled. Our redemption is accomplished once and for all. Psalm 22, the psalm that starts with the cry “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ends with the words that seem to point to Christ’s finished work.

30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

An Easy Arrest – John 18:1-11

James “Whitey” Bulger was a Boston crime boss, whose story has been told in books, documentary form and at least one major film, Black Mass starring Johnny Depp. Watch the trailer here:

One of the many crazy things about Bulgar’s story is his ability to avoid arrest. He cooperated with the FBI for a very long time and eventually ran from the law – some sixteen years as a fugitive, most of that while on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List.

Some people will do almost anything to stay out of prison, even if they deserve it.

With Jesus, though he was by no means a criminal, it was very different. Here is the story as John presents it,

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 

All of these people come to get Jesus. The word used for “a band” of soldiers would usually number in the hundreds. So how does Jesus respond?

Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 

The reaction of the organized mob is fascinating and probably indicates something supernatural at work.

When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 

Jesus is still rather determined to make himself known.

So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 

And just in case future disciples would misunderstand, we get this detail.

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus went to the cross willingly. We might even say intentionally. It was part of God’s plan. There is, however, an example here for us. Should our faith ever get us into trouble, we need not avoid that trouble at all costs. We follow Jesus, not men like Whitey Bulger.

Such suffering or trials may be part of God’s plan for us. We are not criminals who need to run from justice. We may even need to face injustice with willing hearts and bodies ready to suffer harm. The history of martyrs for the faith is long and growing. It’s one way many have had to follow Jesus and there will be many more as we wait for Christ’s return.