Prepare Our Hearts – April 23

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Thursday April 23, 2020
John 21:24-25

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. 25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

You may remember that John opens his gospel by writing in beautifully poetic terms that from the beginning of the beginning, Jesus is the Word who not only was with God, but who was God. The Word created all things: everything that we know; all that we can see; all that we cannot see; and everything that lives and moves and has its being was given life by the Word. But the Word was not only the agent of creation, He was not content to observe from a distance, the Word actually stooped into creation itself, became flesh, put on skin, and entered in to live among us. All who receive the Word, everyone who believes in the name of the Word, He gives the right to become children of God, an eternal privilege that can not be taken away.

From the opening lines to the closing lines of his Gospel, John builds his case that Jesus was who Jesus said He was. Now, John adds his own personal emphasis to this testimony. Who was John? By what ability or authority did he have to pass along such incredible, and at times unbelievable, words? John is “the disciple who is bearing witness about these things,” or in other words, “I was there.” In the decades that had passed since ‘these things’ transpired, the message of Jesus had spread like wildfire in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even throughout the Roman empire. At the beginning, the first followers of Jesus didn’t wander the streets of Jerusalem handing out Bibles or religious literature about Jesus simply because there was nothing written! While the first century Jewish audience was remarkably literate for people in their day, it was primarily an oral culture. People were used to listening carefully to the words read to them by their trusted religious rulers, and in fact their attention spans were much longer than ours today.

Until the invention of the printing press some 1500 years later, creating even copies of books and documents was an incredibly time-consuming and painstakingly tedious process. Owning even a single book would have been a sign of extravagant wealth, and personal ownership of something as lengthy as a Bible was simply unheard of. Even once the first books of the New Testament had been written and began to circulate among the early church, the early followers of Jesus often shared the good news by passing along the teachings and works of Jesus in songs and creeds that were easy to remember and teach to others.

Even though it took a few decades, historically speaking, the New Testament arrived in warp speed, as everything that was written about would have been easily verifiable or discredited since so many of the original eyewitnesses were still alive to testify to the accuracy of the reports, and John was one of those witnesses. Others passed along what they had heard second or third or fourth or twentieth-hand, but John offered what he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. Not only was what had been circulating in written and oral tradition about Jesus true, but John closes his book by letting us know that what we have before us doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. John put the magnifying glass on just a scant few moments of the life of Jesus and he makes certain to emphasize that this is by no means all that Jesus did. He closes with these wonderful words that capture our curiosity by stating that the entire world would not be a large enough library to contain all of the volumes that could be written on the life and works of Jesus.

Although it is easy to think that John is taking a bit of literary license by using fanciful hyperbolic language, consider this statement for a moment. Jesus performed so many healings and miracles that at times we just read blanket statements like, “he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” or “they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” or “all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them.” How many people did Jesus personally heal or touch? We have no idea, but we know that it was more than a few. Each and every person who encountered Jesus, who touched Him or saw Him or heard Him had a unique story to tell about who they were and what Jesus had done and meant for them.

Not only that, but people continue to write and tell about Jesus and what He has done for them. In their Christian book section, Amazon contains so many volumes that they will only say they have more than 100,000 titles. The world’s largest Christian retailer, ChristianBook.com, carries over 500,000 unique books and Bibles and videos and other products which all tell the story of or have been inspired by Jesus.

As John so powerfully illustrates throughout his gospel, Jesus was, is and always will be the eternal Word of God. As a result, Jesus is still alive and active in His creation even today. Each of us who believe in the name of Jesus have encountered Him ourselves, and we are each called to give our testimony to the truth of who He is. We can and must share our stories of how Jesus has stepped into our lives and worked in our hearts so that others may see and know Him too. We are all witnesses to the unending and wondrous work and mercy of God the Father through Jesus the Son, and may we continue to testify to the truth of His goodness with our voices, words, and songs forever. This is now our story, this is now our song.

Prayer for Today:
Lord Jesus, help us to believe that You are who You say You are. We thank You for the Word that has been passed down to us testifying to all that You have done, and we ask that You would open our eyes to all that You continue to do each and every day. Our feeble words will never be able to adequately express how much we love You, and our minds will never fully comprehend how much You love us. Forgive us for the times that we doubt Your love and care for us. We pray that You would continue to be at work in the hearts of those who do not yet know You, and we ask that You would allow them to see and know You for who You are. In Your matchless name we pray, Amen.

Note: As you may have noticed, this is our final devotion in the gospel of John. Tomorrow we will have a yet-to-be determined brief interlude and beginning on Monday, we will start into the epistles of 1, 2, and 3 John.