Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Reason to Believe

There are a number of reasons that I find to believe in the veracity of the gospels and the New Testament. One that always sticks out in my mind is the brutal honesty with which the followers of Jesus are depicted, and even the way in which the ministry of Jesus itself is depicted.

The first and most obviously interesting thing about the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, is that they were not written by Jesus. They were written by his immediate disciples. Either Matthew or Mark were written first, depending on who you believe, with John being the latest. Luke composed his gospel account based on eyewitness reporting (Luke 1:1-4). Mark, according to tradition, composed his gospel account under the watchful eye of Peter himself.

Most of the time, when someone writes a book that is a bit of an autobiography, you expect that person to appear in a somewhat favorable light. This is not the case in the gospels. There, we find the disciples being a group of near bunglers. They are constantly misunderstanding Jesus, apparently clueless as to his teaching, and seem to bicker incessantly about who is the best disciple (Matt. 16:10-12; John 12:12-16; Luke 9:46, 22:44). They are not, to say the least, portrayed in a very flattering light.

Imagine if you were Peter, the great leader of the early church, would you be especially keen on including that episode where Jesus called you Satan? (Mark 8:33). Or, would you want to include that part where you denied Jesus three times out of fear being identified with Jesus? (Mark 14:66-72). That took some serious humility to include that, something almost unprecidented in the history of autobiography.

And what are we to make of John's gospel account? By the time John wrote, many of the other disciples were already dead. Yet, he doesn't even name himself in his own book. He only refers to himself as "The One Whom Jesus Loved," which might also be translated, "The One Whom Jesus Kept Loving." What sort of men are these who write about themselves in such a manner?

So imagine these men, these great men, Peter, Matthew, and John. All three of them are followers of Jesus from the beginning. They all had the chance to write down the greatest adventures of their lives, and instead of their books being about them, they chose to write themselves a bit part in order to introduce the world to Jesus. We would not even know of Peter's raising Tabitha from the dead if it weren't for Luke's account in Acts.

I can understand writing a biography about a great man. I can even imagine the disciples wanting to write a great book on the things that Jesus did. I understand seeing greatness and wishing to share that greatness with others. Jesus, since so many books have been written about him, must be great indeed. Yet, here is what I do not so often see. I do not often see a man that is so great that he not only compels men to write books about himself, but that he is so great that he compels men to write truth about themselves. That is the marvelous thing about Jesus, and that is why I believe his disciples. They tell the truth, not only about Jesus, but also about themselves.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Thanks for the reflections, Bro. Brad.