At the end of the gospel written by John, jam packed with the words and miracles of Christ, John writes ‘ Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.’
There are so many paradoxes, wonderful paradoxes in Christianity, and this is one of them.. that the four Gospels, amounting to just over 100 small pages in my Bible, should keep the whole church, all over the world, and through all of history, nourished and encouraged and guided for as long as we all draw breath. Every culture and language and age. And yet, John says, there’s more! There’s loads of other stuff that Jesus did, things that weren’t recorded.
Imagine poor John, the last of the Apostles, an old old man, remembering and sifting and praying about what he should record, which of the many miracles the Holy Spirit was guiding him to write down, imagine his desire and passion to share with the world the wonder of His friend and Master, his longing to do justice to the greatest story ever told. Imagine how he prayed for guidance, for the Spirit of God to be in his words. What a job he had, that old man.
And the job was perfect, wonderful, better than perfect, miraculous. The inspired words of four men in four Gospels, by the grace of God, changed the world forever. One hundred and ten small pages in my little book.
No life can be recorded fully. Jesus lived over 30 years, and to record every moment would take another thirty, and to read them all would take another thirty, and so the world would grind to a halt, pages rustling, heads bowed, forever reading and never pausing. But the moments we have, by God’s grace, are enough; amazing miraculous moments, the transfiguration on an ancient mountainside, the small poignancies when Jesus wept, tiny telling gestures ‘Let the children come to me’, a look full of love at the rich young man, patience and gentleness with the adulterer, compassion with the woman who touched his robe, deep affection for Lazarus and his sisters, and we can dream about all the ordinary moments of life that were never written down…. a foot stepping on a dusty road, a fig torn and eaten, eyes shielded against the sun, a laugh, a hug, a hand held out, the smoothing of his beard, a cough as dawn breaks, a sigh as night falls… so many moments we don’t know about. His lifetime in a fallen world. For us.
But I’m thinking tonight of two moments in the story of Jesus, separated by over 30 years, two fundamental, indivisible moments of pure love. I’ve been searching for the word that captures the essence of unity and I can’t find it. Surely there’s a word for this? A word that ties together two moments of love and sacrifice so pure that they shattered history and offered eternity to mankind. Two moments, together powerful enough to rend the heavens, to spin a new star, to darken the sun, to split rocks, to open graves. To save my sinful soul.
Maybe I need an image.. .wine and water once mixed, indivisible… no, that won’t do either.
Words are so useless, when a heart is full. The moment when Jesus was born, and the moment He died, those two moments are breathtaking, heart-breaking, full of joy and sadness and praise. Full of tears. Beautiful. The nativity and the crucifixion. One truth. Two moments. Our story.
And then the Resurrection.
OK, three moments.