The four Gospels contain the beautiful and unrivaled record of the words of Jesus of Nazareth. For the Christian, those words in red on our Bible's pages are more than just moral precepts or proverbs to be studied and imitated - they are the very words of the God who formed the heavens and the earth. Those words are His precious, holy food for our famished souls. Those words are our only fountain of life everlasting (John 6:63,68). Those words can both bind up our wounds and afflict our self-centered hearts - all for the sake of love. No poet, philosopher, or philanthropist's eloquence will ever compare to the moving simplicity of the utterance of the LORD of glory Himself.
Yet we perhaps too quickly forget that both the words and deeds of Jesus we have recorded in the Gospels are only a small summary of that which He spoke and performed while dwelling among us for about thirty three years. As believers, we come before the Lord Jesus and His recorded words to "hear Him" (Luke 9:35) so that we "might believe that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [we] may have life in His name" (John 20:31). Each of the Gospel writers purposely penned a short synopsis of Jesus' three years of ministry to incite faith, but John of Zebedee, a close disciple of the Lord, pens a phrase of overflowing affection at the close of his account:
“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
(John 21:25 ESV)
For the heart that has been wounded with love, John's statement only deepens the ache for more knowledge and entrance into the life of the LORD as He walked the earth for over three decades. The four brief windows into His life that can be read in only a few hours invite us to ponder and ask Him questions about His story. Like any good teacher, Jesus would surely have repeated Himself and said many of the same things over and over again in all of the cities He traveled to. But with what nuance or with what tone did He teach each time? What else did He say as He taught for hours each day that was not recorded by the four authors? How else did He express His humility day by day? What other miraculous deeds did He do that completely overwhelmed His onlookers? How did He react and greet good friends that He had not been with in a while? What did He say to His disciples and friends as they regularly walked along the dusty roads to and from Capernaum? What was His family life like as He grew up in Nazareth?
The Bible calls this prayerful pondering meditation. Through the simplicity of this practice, the "Sunday school felt board" Jesus becomes the "Word made flesh" who ate in our homes, walked our streets, slept under the stars, greatly rejoiced, and deeply mourned. Just as Jesus' disciples were wounded by spending three years with Him, we too can be pierced by His words and deeds as we meditate on His first coming. And like His disciples, our hearts will begin to pound within us to see Him again here on the earth a second time and hear His matchless words with our own ears.
May we not neglect this practice - being before Him and hearing His words is indeed the "one thing that is necessary" (Luke 10:42).
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.