So, in John 21, verses 20, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who had also leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You’? So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man’? Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me’.” Twice, now, He has told Peter to follow Him. “Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you’?” Our task, as we all know, is to keep our eyes on the Lord and not be distracted by ourselves or our circumstances. That is why it says, in Hebrews 12, “Fixing your eyes on Jesus, not the other runners.” The idea is to focus your sights, not on the lives of others, but rather in your own life. How He handles others, how He works in other lives, according to Romans 15, is His business, “To His own master a servant will stand or fall.” You are not in a position to judge another servant. You see the idea? In that context, those of you who feel you have more liberty should not judge with contempt those who do not, and similarly, those who have more compulsions in a certain area should not judge those who do not. We are not dealing with matters of obedience and disobedience to the revealed word of God, but there are going to be some areas of latitude and you will know some people have real convictions in a particular area and others do not.
Again, as the example I’ve given some people actually believe that Sunday is the Sabbath, but not all believers believe that. The key here, and this is a tough thing for all of us, is that we have a tendency, if we are not careful, to compare ourselves with other people. If you are writer, you may not be interested in whether a factory supervisor does well or poorly, but you will be interested on other writers in your field. You see what I mean by that? We tend to look at others and then compare ourselves with them. Frankly, that is really a loser’s game because you will lose your contentment when you compare. There is always going to be somebody that is going to do better. Or, the other extreme is that you can become arrogant by looking down at other people and displaying your pride. Either way you lose. Either you look down and you are arrogant or you look up and are depressed. You see the point? It is better to not look at them, but focus on what Jesus is calling you to be. In ministry people often try to imitate another person’s gifts and ministry and it just doesn’t work. You aren’t called to be another person, you are called to be yourself and allow Christ to live through you as you. That is to say, allowing His life to be lived through you, as you, and through the unique prism of your own personality. We are not called to be all things we all have a job to do, and others have a different job to do. Remember one is to till, one is to water, one is to plant the seed.
“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (NIV)
Yet we all want to be everything and want to do everything and all we are doing is getting in the way, remember how I said the fishermen know how to work together to get the job done? In a factory line one machine does one job then the next machine works the next process as the part goes down the line, but we think we’re the whole factory, re-read the above scripture and realize that is not what God nor Jesus called us to do. That is what I mean by that concept.
So, as we conclude this Gospel, we see this coda, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they written in detail, I suppose even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” We know that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that Polycarp also discipled Ignatius. Ignatius quotes Polycarp as saying it was John that wrote this Gospel. In other words, there is a real connect. We know who this ‘other disciple’ was. “This is the disciple who testifies to these things.” The word ‘witness’ is used 47 times in this Gospel. It is the issue of the credibility of this witness. These are not just cleverly made up fabrications. Turn with me to 2nd Peter and you will see this idea. In verse 16 of chapter one we see, “We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Here is particularly referring to the transfiguration. “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased’. We ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” Who is the ‘we’? Peter, James, and John are the ‘we’. They heard it.
The people who were involved in this, the Apostolic witness, really was an eyewitness kind of testimony. As for Luke, and as for Mark, Mark wrote in the connection of the authority of Peter, and Luke under the influence of Paul. Both of them have an apostolic origin in their two Gospels. Then, of course, Matthew and John would have been eyewitnesses. Apostolic origin, apostolic date, apostolic doctrine, and then acceptance were things used as criteria for regarding these books as truly coming from God. So, John tells us, “I am testifying these things and there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”
We only chose our material very, very selectively. He only chose seven miracles, in chapters one through twelve, as signs of who Jesus is, and then the great miracle, the resurrection, at the end of the Gospel. In both cases, though, these were signs to demonstrate that Jesus is who He claims to be and it brings him right back to the purpose statement at the end of John chapter 20, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”
In other words, he has written this book for the express purpose that you may put your trust in Jesus as the Son of God, that He is in fact Christ, the Son of God. It is not intellectual acceptance, but personal reception, which is what that word really means. So, there comes a point where each person will make a choice. Understand, a choice will be made, and not to choose to really to choose. You have no way around it. The only options you have are the two malefactors on the crosses next to Jesus. Those two criminals represent the only options you have. The third option, which we suppose we can do, is just to ignore Him, but at the end of the day that will be tantamount to rejecting Him. Make it an informed choice and base it on true evidence. This is the evidence that John is marshaling and the other apostles do the same. They always go back to the evidence, which is the case for the resurrected Christ.
In His resurrected body, which is quite brilliant and glorious, when John sees Him in heaven, and when Paul sees Him in His glory on the road to Emmaus, it would seem that it was a different body because in both cases they were blinded by His brilliance. My thinking here is that Jesus, accommodated Himself in His resurrected body much as He did when He was on earth. Recall the transfiguration, it was almost as if the veil was open for a moment, they saw His glory, and then it closed. Similarly, I believe, in John 18, in the garden, when the soldiers come up to Him, and He asks them, “Whom do you seek,” and they said, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and then when He said, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
So, something happened. It was enough to overwhelm them. So, my suggestion here is that He accommodated Himself, but there was always a moment of revelation. Mary did not recognize Him until He spoke to her. Or, in the breaking of the bread, they realized it was Him. Or, in the casting of the nets, they realized it was Him. There was always something that brought them back to a previous connection. He had a unique way of speaking, or breaking bread or casting the nets. In each case He manifested Himself. My thing here is that it would be illustrative of the fact that we continue to search for Him and ultimately He reveals Himself, but in His own time and in His own way. At the end of the day, my view here is that it would be beyond our imagination to comprehend the brilliance and the glory.