1. Recognize the context: Historical and literary Context-
In the final chapter of John, Jesus appeared to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee. After a miraculous catch of fish, Jesus shared breakfast with them. Following breakfast, Jesus and Peter have a conversation in which Jesus “reinstated” Peter to a nurturing role of leadership with his followers.
2. Read the Scripture: John 20:19-20
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
3. Reflect on the Scripture:
Verse 25 is the final verse of John’s Gospel. His Gospel concludes with a summary statement to indicate the incalculable quantity and magnitude of Jesus’ work. It is possible John was using hyperbole to summary the earthly ministry of Jesus, as would be a common literary feature in John's day. We know Jesus performed countless miracles beyond what all the Gospels record.
It is also possible that something more is going on here. In chapter one, John described Jesus as the eternal Word actively involved in creation (John 1:1-3). So, we know the work and “ministry” of the second person of the Trinity goes back long before his earthly presence, back to the beginning of all things.
We also know that Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” This message of returning to the Father and doing “greater things” comes within the context of the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus’ work would continue on earth through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his followers.
In Revelation, John called Jesus "the alpha and the omega, the beginning, and the end." Jesus work began at creation and would continue until the end of time. It is possible John had a bigger picture of what Jesus "did" in mind at the close of his Gospel. In chapter 21, perhaps he had a vision of Jesus’ works that included Peter restored to the leadership of God's people, and a picture which invites those who come after Peter to join, a picture of you and me. When looking at the things Jesus has done in this way, it is obvious why the whole world does "not have room for the books that would be written." 4. Relate to life:
Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.
Today, prayerfully reflect on the various works of Jesus you remember from the Gospels.
Today, prayerfully consider John’s final statement in the Gospels. Reflect on Peter’s ministry after Jesus returned to the Father.
How is your life a continuation of Jesus' work?
To do: (Actions with the Holy Spirit's help)
Given the prayer suggestions above, how do you need to respond today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words. Think about your family, friends, church community, and co-workers.
To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passage.)
Read and study the verses above.
Read and study all of chapter 21 and Jesus’ interaction with Peter in light of the final verse.