John’s End—The Purpose of the “Book”

John’s End—The Purpose of the “Book”

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Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.  John 20:30-31

But there are also many other things which 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.  John 21:25  (From the Eleventh Eothinon Gospel of Sunday Orthros)  Monday after the Ascension

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Each of the four Evangelists end his Gospel in a different way.  A few days ago, we read in the Gospel of St. Mark how “They (the Apostles) went forth and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.” (Mark 16:20)  Today we examine not only the purpose of John’s Gospel but the purpose of the Bible all together.

John’s Gospel actually has two “endings.”  Both are quoted above.  Both verses agree that John’s Gospel is not an exhaustive record of Christ’s ministry, that there are other things He did that are not recorded in the Gospel.  This recognizes the possibility of other written accounts of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry, which strengthens the truth of Christ’s ministry, since it is confirmed in other writings.

John 20:31 gives the “mission statement” for the Gospel.  The purpose of the Gospel is for us to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you (we) may have life in His name.”  This statement is significant.  Why?  Because it reveals what the Gospel is, and what it should be for our lives.

The Gospel is a history book, because it tells the history of Christ’s earthly ministry.  But it is more than that.

The Gospel is a guidebook to good and moral living, because following its precepts will help lead to a good life.  But it is more than that.

The Gospel is the roadmap to God’s Kingdom.  It is God’s Word speaking to us today.  In Greek, the Gospel is called the “Evangelion” which means “The Good News.”  The Gospel is indeed the best news, because it not only tells us God’s plans but reassures us that we are part of those plans.  I once heard the Bible called “God’s love letter to each of us.”

Because Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, the time for our salvation is at hand.  We are not wondering if we can ever attain salvation but when.  And having life in His name is not just our destination, but is part of the journey of life right here and right now.  There is enough information in the Gospel for us to believe.  There is enough knowledge in the Gospel for it to bring power to our lives.  And there is enough power that speaks to us through its words, the words of Christ, recounted by His followers, inspired by the Holy Spirit and preserved in these words, that studying the Bible, specifically the Holy Gospels, changes lives.

In prayer we speak to God.  In Scriptures, God speaks to us.  Yes, there are many ways to hear God’s voice but the best way is through reading the Scriptures.  One doesn’t not have to read a lot to take away inspiration.  A chapter or even a few verses a day provide direction and inspiration.  We are to read the Bible repeatedly and constantly.  To read the same passages over and over again only serves to bring deeper meaning as more layers of the message are uncovered and revealed to us.

A prayerful reading of the Bible leads to the revelation of the secrets of a Godly life.  Why do I say “secrets,” as if to say “hidden messages”?  Because for the one who does not read the Bible, or the one who does not read it carefully, or for the one who “reads” and does not allow it’s words to penetrate his soul and affect his life, then the Gospel is just words on paper.  But for the one who reads carefully, for the one who reads prayerfully, allowing the words of the Gospel to touch his soul and affect his life, then the Gospel is a powerful tool, a holy “book” and the “best news” one can ever hope to hear.

There is a purpose to the message and there is a reason why the evangelists wrote the Gospels and why we are to read them.  And that purpose is to strengthen our belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and with confidence in this, that we may have life in His name, both in our daily life and for eternal life.

You were born, as You Yourself willed; You appeared, as You Yourself wished; You suffered in the flesh, O our God; You rose from the dead, having trampled death; You were taken up in glory, who fills the universe, and You sent us the Divine Spirit, that we might hymn and glorify Your Divinity. (Doxastikon, Orthros of Ascension, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)

Read the Bible today, and every day!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0