Even a casual reader of the gospels will notice that John’s Gospel differs from the other three. Many of its peculiar features have been brought to the attention of Bible students: the divinity of Jesus, His unique relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, a story of Jesus that begins not in Nazareth or Bethlehem but rather with a pre-existence from everlasting etc.
One of this gospel’s characteristics is a particular approach to Jesus’ miracles. Have you noticed that only a few miracles are reported on its pages? Seven, to be precise. Count along with me (or give it a new reading):
Why seven only? Why these only?
Make no mistake: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31; 21:25).
No lapse of memory, nor fear of being superfluous. It is mandatory then — John had criteria of selection. The diligent student will search all these seven wonders and notice something particular. These miracles are done (and perceived/felt) from a distance. Yes, in none of them, Jesus’ touch is needed.
One example will make the case: remember the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter? Well, Jesus took her by the hand (Luke 8:54). The dead son of the widow in Nain? Brought to life when Jesus touched the bier (Luke 7:14). None in John’s gospel. Review the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11), thinking of a remotely approach, “no touch”, power of the word only: rolling the stone away, keeping the distance, calling the dead by name, voice only, letting others untie the dead. No magic tricks, no sleight of hand, no cover-ups. Oh, did I mention it took place… days later?
It has been said that John’s gospel was written for the “next generation”, even for the last. For those that didn’t have the privilege to touch Jesus or be touched by Him. For that generation that will believe without touching. A gospel, a story of Jesus’ life written for a… wireless generation!
Hopefully, by now, you see with new eyes why Jesus says to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).
John’s gospel remains a model for you and me, for our “evangelism”, preaching and sharing a Jesus that is not limited to a space, a time, a ritual, or a generation.
The great commission in John’s gospel is not a go and teach, preach and reach, but instead a “Follow Me!” (John 21:22-23)
Pastor Christian Salcianu is the director for the Adventist Discovery Centre, UK