Faith: The rest of the story
I have always been a huge fan of Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” and listened to them as often as I was able. I love knowing all the facts, knowing the “back story”, and why events transpired as they did as a result. I enjoy being treated as a thinking person by authors and being given enough information to make intelligent decisions based upon the information that it available, and it is one reason that I particularly enjoy reading the Gospel according to John, because it fills in so many questions that arise when reading the Gospels.
As an example, of the four Gospels, three are the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke because they follow essentially the same line and, although there are slight variations, they don’t swerve from the central message. The Gospel according to John, however, radically changes time frames, event timing and adds new substance to the Synoptic Gospels, somewhat like Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” radio broadcasts. In our reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for the next few weeks we find a whole new emphasis on those that were the disciples of Jesus. Whereas the institution of the Holy Eucharist (or Holy Communion) is discussed in the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospel according to John delves into how the followers of Jesus understood His pronouncement that He was (and is) the bread that came down from heaven. The disciples were so intent on attempting to understand the literal meaning that they bypassed the spiritual meaning in which Jesus was speaking to them. They were unable to understand that Jesus was offering them eternal life which they would inherit if they fully committed to becoming followers of Jesus, and instead concentrated on what they considered to be offensive language about the eating of flesh and the drinking of blood. They thought with their head and not with their heart, and, as a result, were unable to follow Jesus any longer.
As Jesus watched the unbelieving disciples leave, He asked his chosen ones, the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away? (NRSV) Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.” (John 6: 67-69, NRSV) Can you imagine how disappointed that Jesus must have been, to have spent so much time with his disciples, not just the twelve apostles, but the large multitude that had been listening to Him and learning from Him all that time? The twelve remained with Him, and yet, one of them would eventually betray Him.
The Gospel according to John fills in many questions, emphasizes from the very beginning the fact that Jesus was (and is) fully divine, while at the same time fully human. While fully divine Jesus already knows that He will be abandoned by the multitudes and eventually even by the twelve apostles, we also see His being fully human, being seen in flesh and blood by His followers who even refer to His parentage, the son of Joseph in their eyes. Jesus stated to those who heard, “I am the bread of life.” He offered them His life for theirs (and ours), that He was sacrificing His life for the life of the world, and yet they who had ears would not listen to Him.
Paul Harvey always ended his broadcasts with the following statement, “and now you know ….. the rest of the story.” The rest of the story is that we still go forth to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as our Savior so all in the world who can hear will listen.
The Rev. Bain White is the priest/pastor at St. Mark’s Church of Grace, Craig, Colorado. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I was sad when we had to report that a big project wasn’t coming to Craig, after all.