Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston, Iowa;
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30–31, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"That is a good question. But, I don't have an answer for you because the Bible doesn't say anything about that."
I've said that often. Maybe even to you. Usually, I get a response that goes something like, "why didn't God put that in there?" Well, here's the answer. John says the things he put in his book, the Gospel of John, are there "so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." And what John says here actually applies to all of the Bible, everything that is necessary for you to have faith is here. "These things are written…" Even though there were many other things that could have been written, these are written so that you may believe. There is enough here for your faith. There is enough here for you to believe. These short two verses of the conclusion of John's Gospel, sum up the gospel and the Word of God in a very simple and concise way. They tell you what the Word is all about. It's about Jesus and all that he said and did for you for the forgiveness of your sins, so that you may believe. It's no accident that John says these things right after the account of Jesus resurrection and his appearance to the disciples in the upper room on the first Easter Sunday. He says, "Peace be with you." And then he sends the disciples out to bring that peace, the forgiveness of sins that he brings through his cross and resurrection, to the whole world. "As the father has sent me, even so I am sending you." It is through faith in Jesus Christ that we receive this forgiveness.
You see, this is a very important understanding of how God works. Roman Catholics believe that it takes the Pope to tell us what Scripture means and what it's about. Other Christians believe that you figure out what Scripture means and what it's about by how it makes you feel. You hear this in the question that people often ask, "What does this text mean to you?" It actually doesn't make any difference what the text means to you. What makes a difference is what God means to say in the text. It makes a difference what St. John, and the other writers of Scripture, meant when they wrote the text. John tells you exactly what Scripture means and what it's about. It's about having faith in Jesus Christ who lived and died and rose again for you. It's about having faith in Jesus so that you may have life in his name. It is Scripture that is enough for faith. The Psalm says,
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105, ESV)
You see, faith always has an object. The object of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. (http://www.cph.org/t-topic-catechism-creed.aspx)
The Bible, and all its parts, is about this very thing. Although there are many other things that we can learn from the Bible about how to live our lives, this is not the primary purpose. John didn't write these things so that you can transform your society. John didn't write these things so that you could find your purpose in life. John didn't write these things so that you could be a financial wizard. He said these things are written so that you may believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the World. So our faith is centered on Jesus Christ and all that he has said and done. If we look to Popes or feelings to tell us what the Scriptures are about our faith has its object in Popes or even in ourselves. Popes have often been wrong. And your feelings are unreliable and change like the wind. It is the Word of God that is reliable and never changes. It says exactly what it means. And it says exactly what it means to you when you search the Scriptures for Jesus Christ. Jesus said this to his enemies. They didn't like the things he said and did even though they were very well-versed in Scripture. He corrected them,
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” (John 5:39, ESV)
Here Jesus was talking about the Old Testament. The Scribes and Pharisees knew it very well. They searched it looking for ways to save themselves. They had rules upon rules to make it doable. What they missed was that Jesus Christ had come to save them. They put him on the cross. But he willingly went there for their sins. And they continued to look in the Scriptures for other things than him. They rejected Jesus because they depended on their own ideas about what Scripture meant and why it was written.
It's easy to put ourselves in the drivers seat. In fact it's the oldest temptation in the world. In the garden of Eden, Satan drove this point home. He asked Adam and Eve, "Did God actually say?" (Genesis 3:1) He was asking the question, "What does this text mean to you?" It sounds so good to our sinful human nature, to hear that what Scripture is really about is our purpose in life. It sounds so good to our sinful human nature that the Bible is about us. If the Bible is about us that makes us God. And this is where we want to be. This is the most basic nature of our sinfulness. Just like our forefather and mother, Adam and Eve, we want to "be like God, knowing good and evil."
This is why we need to be reminded over and over again that Jesus is the object of our faith. The Bible is about what he has done for us. This is what our preaching is all about. St. Paul says it in first Corinthians,
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:21–25, ESV)
This is exactly why I have said many times I'd like a very large cross in the sanctuary with the body of Jesus on it. It reminds us that Jesus Christ crucified is the object of our faith and all Scripture.
But don't think for a moment that what I mean is that there is nothing else to be heard in Scripture. God clearly lays out his demands on how we are to live. God clearly lays out truth and error, sin and righteousness. And he expects us to keep his law perfectly. And so it is in the Bible that we see over and over again how we fall well short of being able to save ourselves, or please God in any way. David said in the Psalm,
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” (Psalm 51:3–4, ESV)
His transgressions were before him because he had God's law before him in the Word. And God sent people to him to proclaim that Word to him when he was willfully ignoring it. And so he saw his sin and his need for God to be his Savior. This is what the law does for us also. It shows us our sin. It leaves us without excuse. And so we look in Scripture for a Savior. And that Savior is Jesus Christ crucified for your sin. And that brings us full circle back to what John says here. These things "are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.