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By: Larry Shaffer
This is Zoe, the daughter of our precious friends, Pete and Lori Marshall, Seattle, WA
After a few mock trials before the High Priest, Jesus was sent to Pilate with the succinct request from the Jews; crucify him. He was ushered in before Pilate. Pilate was the Roman Governor and Military Commander with jurisdiction over Jerusalem. Pilate wanted nothing to do with Jesus. He declared Jesus innocent. But the Jews, knowing that Pilate was not seen favorably by Caesar, taunted Pilate and threatened to cause an uprising if Pilate didn’t do what they wanted.
Pilate hated the Jews and, in his heart, wanted to always do the opposite of what the Jews wanted. But Pilate didn’t want any trouble and risk another bad report being sent to Caesar. As a compromise, Pilate had Jesus beaten severely, hoping that would satisfy the Jews thirst for blood.
Pilate then took Jesus and scrounged Him, 19:1. These seven words are filled with unspeakable cruelty and excruciating pain. Thank you, Lord, for taking the full force of the penalty of my sin upon your physical body. And He Himself bore our sins in His Body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed, I Peter 2:24.
John the apostle is concise and succinct in his description of the suffering of Jesus. Why didn’t John paint a more thorough literary picture of the suffering of Jesus? The details of His physical and emotional suffering were immense. Why gloss over it?
Consider the contrast of a different author, also named John. Several years ago, when I read Grapes of Wrath, it struck me to the core. The words of John Steinbeck cut deep. His writing caused me to feel deeply. I felt their hunger. I felt their fear. I felt their failed hopes. I felt their despair. Novelist write with volume and detail.
To take this illustration of volume and detail of the text to the extreme, I remember the author describing the morning coffee consumed by the pitiful characters of the story. In my real life, I drink premium coffee with a rich aroma of earthy delight. But when I read Grapes of Wrath, the words were so descriptive, that I could taste the luke-warm dreadful coffee they drank and could feel the coffee grounds seeping through my sips and into the spaces between my teeth. Every aspect of their lives, dreadfully detailed by the author, was misery. Hopeless misery. And I felt it. I felt it deeply.
The apostle John simply doesn’t give us details. Even the other gospel writers give more detail than John. But remember, John’s main purpose was to verify Jesus as the Son of God and His Deity. John stays focused on his purpose. Some authors write with the purpose to make the readers “feel”. Others write so that their readers will “know”. John Steinbeck’s writing made me “feel”. The apostle John helps me to “know” and “believe”. Know what?
Therefore, many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which is not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:30,31.
So, we know. John’s purpose of validating Jesus as the Son of God has brought knowledge and certainty to millions. Jesus is the Son of God, God the Savior and God our Lord. But the ultimate goal of writing this gospel is that we would have knowledge that leads to faith. Do you believe?