picking the pieces.

((First published in a different form on May 28, 2008)

How was your trip?” That’s what everyone wants to know.

It would take more than 4 days to write all the details of touch and taste and sound and sight, of voices and glances and expressions from our trip of the last four days. And it would take weeks and pages to capture the different perspectives and the unanswered questions.

Recently, a friend said, “We don’t have many details in the Bible do we?” And I realized that it’s true. There are huge gaps. But then I read what John writes about his book, the gospel of John:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

And it suddenly made sense why we don’t have very many specifics about the sound of his voice or the kinds of things he built or all the jokes he told or all the miracles he did or why Mary Magdalene cared about him so much. All of those are things that we would love to know, that would round out our picture of him. We would love the details.But we don’t get them. Because if a four day trip takes weeks to describe, then a life would take, well, forever.

We only get enough detail for John to do what he wanted to do. And here’s what he said he wanted to do:

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are 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.

The gospels are selective history of Jesus, just like every conversation with me is selective history. Not because I’m trying to hide anything, necessarily, but because there is so much detail available and so little time to talk that I have to filter.

And so the mental frame for us in reading John is, does the detail we have tell the story he’s trying to tell?

It’s a great question.

Want some pizza and decaf?

Advertisements

About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.