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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Two Meteors crossing!

Good week. Welcome to the “Front Porch.”

I had long wanted to do a writing (perhaps a book?) bearing this great title, “How Big is God?” based on the great song bearing that title.

As I began to think on that theme, something else came to mind: a great miracle from the gospel of John, two thoughts crossing paths like two meteors streaking across the night sky.

That second theme came in an account that I would not have expected to be such a perfect backdrop for our search for God’s “bigness,” but the Bible often surprises us with how relevant it can be on any subject. Oh, there will be many more biblical accounts that speak to this subject as we go along, many more meteors crisscrossing in the sky, we might say. But let’s begin with this one; and if we have the strength and inspiration to explore our great theme far into the mysterious depths of God’s Word and into a grand view of the vast heavens that declare God’s glory hour by hour, then we will be filled with more awesome wonder than ever before.

The scene where we will begin our investigation is in the twenty-first chapter of the gospel of John. That chapter is what I would consider somewhat of an “add-on” chapter in this gospel, kind of an anticlimactic addition to John’s sublime writing. A casual Bible student might have trouble remembering the details of that twenty-first chapter, and I am sure he would wonder as to its great significance. After all, when you come to a “How big is God” theme, you need some huge, monumental scenes to tell its story even vaguely the way it needs to be told.   

In fact, we might be more prone to look at the magnificent and faith-producing scenes from the previous chapter, the twentieth chapter of this gospel. Ah, what a chapter it is! We have the sun-rising appearance of Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Jesus and her subsequent meeting with the angel right there by the tomb – (Can we even imagine!) – and then we see her running to Peter and John to send them immediately to the sacred tomb without even a moment’s delay. John outruns Peter there but Peter, having the greater courage, goes into that blessed tomb first.

And that’s not all. We subsequently have three of Jesus’ appearances – the greatest of the world’s epiphanies – that wrap up that great resurrection chapter: There is Jesus’ first appearance to Mary Magdalene, then the two appearances to the disciples as they meet to discuss matters up in that upper Jerusalem room, one of those meetings without the doubting Thomas and the latter one with. I could not help but think that after that meeting Thomas could spin quite a yarn telling us how big his God is – and we concur, how so very big He is!

Having written the powerful scene where Thomas sees the Lord and the Lord invites him to put his hand in the scars in His hands and into his riven side, John seems to have laid out his case perfectly for these twenty chapters. It all fits so nicely that he feels satisfied to bring it all to a classic conclusion: “… these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

With that, John lays down his pen – (This I am imagining) – takes a deep breath, and feels a degree of satisfaction that this job has come to a sublime conclusion. Oh, what a book, the gospel of John, the greatest apologetic book ever written, the greatest apologetic book ever to be written! He folds the scroll up and lets it sit for a little while, as writers do, and he thinks his job is complete. Ah, there’s nothing like coming to an end of a book, what grand satisfaction!

But somewhere along the line, the Holy Spirit nudges that “disciple whom Jesus loved” yet again and says, “John, I appreciate your work, but I need you to add a few more scenes to your great gospel.”

We’re not done yet. We need John 21.

John again sits down with the pen of inspiration in his hands, unfolds that scroll again, and begins to add to his narrative. I will go to an old familiar place to write this second conclusion to this gospel, he thinks. So, he takes us to the most common place we know in all the gospels, to the Sea of Tiberias, more commonly known as the Sea of Galilee.

“After these things,” John writes to lead off this second conclusion, “Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself.”

And I thought, with a smile, he might have easily said, “… He showed one more time, to leave no doubt in any mind and to confirm the faith of every believer, just how big our Jesus is, and just how big our God is!”

With that opening thesis, two great themes – God’s bigness and Jesus’ powerful miracles at the boisterous Galilee Sea – come together, crossing like two meteors crisscrossing in the night sky.

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email or call or text (972) 824-5197.

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