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I. Things Omitted from John’s Gospel.
While examining the second Gospel, we dwelt at some length upon the different things of which Mark took no notice, and saw that the items excluded made manifest the perfections of his particular portrayal of Christ. Here, too, a similar line of thought may be followed out at even greater length. Much that is found in the first three Gospels is omitted by John, as being irrelevant to his special theme. Some of the more outstanding of these we shall now consider:
1. In John’s Gospel there is no genealogy, neither His legal through Joseph, nor his personal through Mary. Nor is there any account of His birth. Instead, as we have seen, He was “In the beginning.” For a similar reason, John is silent about Herod’s attempt to slay the Christ Child, about the flight into Egypt, and subsequent return to Galilee. Nothing is said about the Lord Jesus as a Boy of twelve, in the midst of the doctors in the Temple. No reference is made to the years spent at Nazareth, and no hint is given of Christ working at the carpenter’s bench before He began His public ministry. All these are passed over as not being germane.
2. Here, there is no description of His baptism. Mark refers to the Lord Jesus being baptized by his forerunner, and Matthew and Luke each describe at length the attendant circumstances. John’s reason for saying nothing about this is obvious. In His baptism, Christ, in condescending grace, took His place alongside of His needy people, saying to the one who baptized Him, “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15).
3. John says nothing about the Temptation. Here, again, we may observe the superintending hand of the Holy Spirit, guiding the different Evangelists in the selection of their material. Each of the first three Gospels make mention of the season spent by Christ in the wilderness, where He was tempted for forty days of the Devil. But John is silent about it. And why? Because John is presenting Christ as God the Son, and “God cannot be tempted” (Jas. 1:13).
4. There is no account of His transfiguration. At first sight this seems strange, but a little attention to details will reveal the reason for this. The wonderful scene witnessed by the three disciples upon the holy mount, was not an unveiling of His Divine glories, but a miniature representation, a spectacular showing forth of the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (see Matt. 16:28 etc.). But the earthly kingdom does not fall within the scope of this Gospel. Here, it is spiritual and heavenly relationships which are made most prominent.
5. Here there is no Appointing of the Apostles. In the other Gospels we find the Lord Jesus selecting, equipping, and sending forth the Twelve, to preach, and to heal; and in Luke we also read of Him sending out the Seventy. But here, in harmony with the character of this Gospel, all ministry and miracle working is left entirely in the hands of the Son of God.
6. Never once is Christ here seen praying. This does not come out so clearly in our English translation as it does in the original Greek. In John’s Gospel we never find the word associated with Christ which signifies taking the place of a supplicant; instead, the word “erotos” is used, and this word denotes “speaking” as to an equal. It is very striking to compare what each Evangelist records following the miracle of the Feeding of the five thousand: Matt. says, “And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray” (14:23). Mark says, “When He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray” (6:46). Luke also follows his narration of this miracle with the words, “And it came to pass, as He was alone praying” (9:18). But when we come to the fourth Gospel, we read, “He departed again to a mountain Himself alone” (6:15), and there John stops!
The contents of John 17 may seem to contradict what we have just said above, but really it is not so. At the beginning of the chapter we read, “Jesus lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee” (v. 1). And at its close we read that He said, “Father I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am” (v. 24). Thus He spoke to the Father as to an Equal.
7. We never read in John’s Gospel of “The Coming of the Son of Man,” and for the same reason as this, He is never addressed as “The Son of David” here. The Coming of the Son of Man always has reference to His return to the earth itself, coming back to His earthly people. But here we read, not of a restored Palestine, but of the “Father’s House” and its “many mansions,” of Christ going on High to prepare a place “for His heavenly people, and of Him coming back to receive them unto Himself, that there may they be also.
8. We never find the word “Repent” in John. In the other Gospels this is a term of frequent occurrence; what, then, is the reason for its absence here? In the other Gospels the sinner is viewed as guilty, and needing, therefore, to “repent.” But here, the sinner is looked upon as spiritually dead, and therefore, in sore need of that which only God can impart—“life”! It is here we read of man needing to be “born again” (3:7), needing to be “quickened” (5:21), and needing to be “drawn” (6:44).
9. Neither is the word “Forgive” found in John. This, too, is a word often met with in the other Gospels. Why, then, its omission here? In Matt. 9:6 we read, “The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins.” As Son of Man He “forgives;” as Son of God He bestows “eternal life.”
10. No Parables are found in John’s Gospel. This is a very notable omission. The key to it is found in Matt. 13: “And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (vv. 10–13). Here we learn why that Christ, in the later stages of His ministry, taught in “parables.” It was to conceal from those who had rejected Him, what was comprehensible only to those who had spiritual discernment. But here in John, Christ is not concealing, but revealing—revealing God. It is to be deplored that the rationale of our Lord’s parabolic form of teaching should be known to so few. The popular definition of Christ’s parables is that they were earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. How man gets things upside down! The truth is, that His parables were heavenly stories with an earthly meaning, having to do with His earthly people, in earthly connections. This is another reason why none are found in John—the word in 10:6 is “proverb.”
11. In John’s Gospel no mention is made of the Demons. Why this is we do not know. To say that no reference is here made to them, was, because mention of them would be incompatible with the Divine glories of Christ, hardly seems satisfactory; for, Satan himself is referred to here, again and again. It is, in fact, only here, that the Devil is spoken of three times over as “The prince of this world;” and, Judas, too, as the son of Perdition, occupies a more prominent position here than in the other Gospels. Should it be revealed to any of our readers why the “demons” are excluded from this Gospel, we shall be very glad to hear from them.
12. There is no account of Christ’s Ascension in this fourth Gospel. This is very striking, and by implication brings out clearly the Deity of the Lord Jesus. As God the Son He was omnipresent, and so, needed not to ascend. As God the Son He fills both heaven and earth. We turn now to,
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