Jesus- God Incarnate- John 21:25

John 21:25 is the concluding verse of the Gospel of John, and John concludes his gospel with the following statement: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written”. Why would John choose to conclude his gospel in this way, what does he want to tell us in this verse? Some have taken this verse to say that Jesus was somehow able to get a lot more done than ordinary humans, that He was somehow not limited by time and space, able to somehow cram more activity into one day than anyone else, and study His life to find business and leadership principles so they can also get more done. Others take it more literally, as a plain statement that John did not record everything Jesus did, but just focused on the highlights, that this is not a biography or a history book, but a gospel. Still others see it as a later addition added by a copyist to “reinforce” John’s message, to add to Jesus’ powers and lead more to faith in Him. So what exactly does John want to tell us in this verse, with which he concludes his gospel? We begin by understanding that John’s book is a gospel (literally “good news”), it is not a biography or history book, it is a book with a message (good news) and a purpose. So what is the “purpose” of John’s gospel? We find the answer from John himself in John 19:35, in which we read that “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.” John’s “testimony” (his gospel) is written for the purpose that its readers would “believe”, and what would he like his readers to believe? We turn to John 20:28 for the answer. In this verse, Jesus has risen from the dead and appears to the disciples, and here He is speaking to Thomas, who still doubts, and has said he will not believe unless he sees the nail marks and hole in His side. When Thomas sees these, he responds by saying to Jesus, “My Lord and my God”. Most commentators see this verse as the “climax” to John’s gospel, as the point to which everything which comes before it leads. The reason for this is that this response shows us the purpose of John’s gospel, that all who read it would come to the same conclusion to which Thomas does, that all who read this gospel would also see Jesus of Nazareth as “Lord and God”. So how does John 21:25 fit with all of this? According to literary experts, an important and very common Semitic (Hebrew) literary technique was something known as the inclusio. This is a technique in which the author of a narrative arranges his material in such a way that he returns to a theme with which he began the narrative at the end of the narrative, often including his overall purpose in both the beginning and the conclusion. That is what John is doing with John 21:25. He begins his gospel with the statement that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John begins his gospel with a direct statement that Jesus is God, and using an inclusio, he ends his gospel in exactly the same way. This verse is actually telling us that Jesus is God, that he is infinite, and a finite thing such as books could never record everything ever done by an infinite God. As we have seen, John’s gospel is written so that everyone who reads it would come to the same conclusion as Thomas, that Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh. He begins his gospel with a direct statement that Jesus is God, and he ends it in exactly the same way, in order that all who read it would conclude that very thing.

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