I watched the movie “The Book of Eli” last night. It’s nice to see a mainstream film affirm the overwhelming importance of the Bible. I enjoyed the movie in spite of the violence portrayed, though frankly, there is much more violence depicted in the pages of Scripture, and that violence was not Hollywood effects. Sadly civilization was and is not without its bloodthirsty side. But my thoughts here are not about that facet of the film. I was amused by the twist at the end. And putting the Bible on the same stature as all the other purported holy books of the world caught my attention.
I then resumed my own Bible reading. I’m now early in the Gospel of John. It is remarkable that the first three Gospels are in such harmony concerning the words and deeds of Jesus while He walked the earth. Especially considering the multitude of documents from the first couple hundred years after the Resurrection that our translations are now based, and that they come from spoken accounts handed down from the Apostles and written by such a wide flung Church around the early Western Civilization. After reading Matthew, Mark and Luke, it is a wonder to read such a different side of he Gospel story as John’s account. It is immediately apparent that this is a more cerebral and spiritual record. This makes sense since John was no doubt very familiar with the standard accounts of Jesus life and words that bolstered the church and presumably felt no need to duplicate. John plunged deeper into the person of Jesus Christ, who He was and the significance of His mission.
Paramount is the discussion of Jesus’ relationship with His Father. Read chapters 5 & 6 for some of the most remarkable dialog in all the Gospels, especially as He confronts the open hostility of the religious rulers.
But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
“But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish–the very works that I do–testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
I suggest there is nothing even remotely resembling any discussion like this in any other book in the world. Who else has made claims such as coming down from heaven, who does the works the Father shows Him, raising from the dead and giving life to those whom He desires. That He claimed to be equal with God was so obvious to the rulers that they were immediately furious with Him for such blasphemy. But He confronted them openly and with biting wisdom and condemnation. Little wonder they sought to put Him to death, this would change everything for their position of power.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”
They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.
This hardly sounds like a message that can be put on the same footing as the “holy books” of Islam or the Hindus or any other book of wisdom of the world One can dismiss this message of Jesus out of hand as delusions and incredible, but if you evaluate His words and deeds in an intelligent manner there are only two possibilities, He was either truthful or telling a lie. And if He was telling the truth woe to those who dismiss this Man and this message that is so completely unlike any other message given to save such a broken world.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]