But these are written that you may believe. John 20:31
“The Lord is my high tower . . . . We left the camp singing.” On September 7, 1943, Etty Hillesum wrote those words on a postcard and threw it from a train. Those were the final recorded words we would hear from her. On November 30, 1943, she was murdered at Auschwitz. Later, Hillesum’s diaries of her experiences in a concentration camp were translated and published. They chronicled her perspectives on the horrors of Nazi occupation along with the beauty of God’s world. Her diaries have been translated into sixty-seven languages—a gift to all who would read and believe the good as well as the bad.
The apostle John didn’t sidestep the harsh realities of Jesus’ life on earth; he wrote of both the good Jesus did and the challenges He faced. The final words from his gospel give insight into the purpose behind the book that bears his name. Jesus performed “many other signs . . . which are not recorded” (20:30) by John. But these, he says, were “written that you may believe” (v. 31). John’s “diary” ends on the note of triumph: “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.” The gift of those gospel words allows us the opportunity to believe and “have life in his name.”
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) are diary accounts of God’s love for us. They’re words to read and believe and share, for they lead us to life. They lead us to Christ.
How might it change the way you read the Gospels if you thought of them as diaries? How are you being led to the heart of Christ through them?
Gracious God, thank You for the gift of the Scriptures, written down by faithful hands so that I might believe and have life.
Thomas is mentioned among Jesus’ disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but it’s John’s gospel that gives us a close-up view of him. John’s account of Jesus includes six scenes where Thomas appears (all in chapters 11–20), and he first speaks in 11:16 after the death of Lazarus. Jesus’ well-known words in John 14:6—“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”—were in response to Thomas’ query, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (v. 5).
In John, we see Thomas as a pessimist and realist—inquisitive, human, honest. And he’s commonly referred to as “doubting Thomas” because of his words in John 20:25 and Jesus’ response to him in verse 27. But his last recorded words reveal that he was convinced of who Jesus is: “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28).