The Last Verse in John's Gospel | John 21:25
Welcome back to the Bible is Art where we explore the literary artistry of the Bible and this week we’re looking at the strange last sentence of John’s Gospel.
Here is the last verse in John’s Gospel, John 21:25:
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
So what’s weird about that John just emphasizing that Jesus did a lot of other things?
Well, one of the skills to become a better interpreter is to know when something is weird, surprising, or slightly off, when the author is tipping his hat. And this is weird and John is tipping his hat.
Why end John’s book with this little image of the books filling the world. Why does John say “I suppose”? What do you mean “suppose”, John? You don’t know? So you’ve been sure about everything so far and then right at the end you’re like “and one more thing, maybe” yeah, I don’t think so. I think something else is going on.
Also, we’ve had three other gospels full of Jesus’ deeds, deeds we haven’t seen in John. So we already know he’s done a bunch of other things.
You see, the gospel opened up with Jesus described by John as the word creating the world in the beginning. Throughout John’s Gospel, he has taught us that the word must be taken into us. Jesus tells us that we need to eat his flesh, he tells the a group of the jews that “his word has no place” in them. The greek word there is the same as the word “contain” in our text. So throughout the whole Gospel we are instructed that Jesus’ words must be contained in us.
So by the time we get to the end where John says that if everything Jesus did were written, the world couldn’t contain them, John’s winking. Jesus has been filling things up with his word, people. And if this world couldn’t contain them, perhaps we need a new world, a new creation. John begins and ends his Gospel with the word making a world. And if the filling up of books can’t fit into the world and Jesus has been filling people up throughout the gospel, then perhaps all this this time Jesus has already begun to make this new creation. Perhaps every hearing and receiving of Jesus’ words is already the overspilling of the new world into this one. And that, my friends, is why, the Bible is art.