We have come now to the
end of these brief meditations in the Gospel by John.
Nothing academic has been attempted. All technical
questions have been avoided. The spiritual message and
value has been the sole object.
Throwing a look back
over this record, one thing may be taken up profitably
for notice and re-emphasis. With all the beauty and
wonder of what is gathered into this account, it is not
possible to avoid the realization that from beginning to
end the writer was up against something. Both in what he
himself said about Jesus, and in all the scenes,
incidents, and utterances recorded of Jesus, there is a
strenuous element, which varies from controversy,
reserve, antagonism, and question, to lack of capacity to
appreciate, understand, or believe.
This (either positive
or negative) difficulty covers the religious leaders, the
people in view generally, and particularly disciples and
friends. There is something to be overcome, to be broken
down, or to be changed. Jesus is a mystery; that is what
it amounts to. He is other, different - an enigma. He
cannot be interpreted in any of the standard terms of
either human nature or religion, as generally known and
accepted. He is a stranger, an outsider, and the easiest
thing is to be against and not with Him. Indeed, it is
difficult not to be offended with Him, even in the case
of the closest friends. All this in spite of the great
amount said as to His love.
What, then, does it all
amount to? Is there something in this which is as much
the message of the book as anything particularly recorded
in it? I think there is, and it is this. There are two
realms which, while at times and in certain cases seeming
to be nearer than at others, never do actually meet or
overlap. They are two separate realms, and not two shades
or degrees of one. The one never does or can fully
understand, appreciate, or comprehend the other, and
religion - traditional religion - gives no great
advantage, if any, in this matter.
It is just the wide and
unbridgeable difference between the spiritual on the one
hand, and the natural - even though devoutly religious -
on the other. The gap remains and that is the reason for
so much of the difficulty, the trouble, the perplexity!
It explains the aloneness and loneliness of Jesus. Paul
drank deeply of this cup. The way of the Spirit and
spirituality is a lonely way, a misunderstood way, and
often an antagonized way. Adjust everything to the reason
of man and the traditions of men, and this element of
hard going will be eliminated. Walk by the Spirit, and
you are with a minority.