For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
Christ in the Synoptic Gospels and in John's Gospel
The wonderful exterior of Jesus' life was nothing other than the result of something interior.
The Holy Spirit inspired no more, and no less than four "biographies" of our Lord Jesus Christ: The gospel according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke and according to John. The fact that there are four gospels indicates, on the one hand that more than one gospel was needed to be able to register all the dimensions of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, each one of them has a part in the whole, in such a way that together they allow us to appreciate the complete picture. On the other hand, the fact that there are four gospels also shows the supreme importance that God gives to the experience of knowing Jesus Christ.
Now, Matthew, Mark and Luke receive the name of the synoptic gospels because the quantity of material that they have in common is such that their content can be ordered in three parallel columns; thus, with a single look we can see the general picture of the three gospels. John's gospel, on the other hand, has little material in common with the synoptic ones. For example, of the 29 miracles narrated by the synoptics, John's gospel contains only two: the multiplying of the bread and the miracle of walking on water.
The revelation of Christ in the synoptic gospels
But this formal or literary distinction is not the most important. From the point of view of revelation there is also a great difference between the synoptic gospels and the fourth gospel. The first three -Matthew, Mark and Luke- have a strong emphasis on Jesus' actions: in His ministry, in His acts and works. They are fundamentally the external description of what Jesus manifested, that which was visible of him to others. They are like a photograph of Jesus. And what is it that we find in it? That our blessed Lord Jesus Christ was, in the days of his flesh, an extraordinary, unique, admirable man. He manifested a tremendous power in His life that enabled him to heal the sick, to drive out demons, to perform miracles and to resurrect the dead. He acted with an unfathomable wisdom and showed a supernatural love. A man of prayer, a teacher who taught with authority and a servant who never ceased.
In Mark's gospel, for example, the action passes quickly from one episode to another. The Greek adverb "euthús" that translates as "immediately" or "at once", appears 54 times in the whole New Testament . 42 Of these appear in Mark. (It must have been terrible to try to follow Jesus! He got up at dawn, didn't stop in the whole day, he slept little, and went from one place to another...).
Yet that wonderful exterior of Jesus' life was nothing other than the result of something interior. What he was on the outside can only be explained by what happened within him. That's why trying to imitate Jesus, without that interior life would be a total failure. Our tendency when reading the gospels is quickly to try to produce the same actions and works as Jesus, and we thereby ignore Jesus' interior reality. Thus we miss the point and we lose the way.
The revelation of Christ in John's gospel
But what did Jesus Christ's interior reality consist of? Where can we see it? Here John's gospel enters into the frame. John's gospel, unlike any other, is essentially about Jesus' inward life. The central question that John responds is: What is there in Jesus' intimate life that explains the type of man that He is? This gospel is more like an x-ray than a picture. Only a man like John who lived so near to Jesus to the point of being the only one that leaned back on His bosom, could be used to reveal such an inner life.
And what is it that we find there? Let us look at John 5:19-20, 30; 10:30, 37, 38; 11:41-42; 14:8-11; 15:9, etc. What there is inside Jesus is the intimate, deep and permanent communion with His Father. What John shows us in his gospel is Jesus living the human life by means of the Father's life that lived in him. Although outwardly Jesus did many things, inwardly He was focused on one thing. Inwardly there was only one thing necessary, as Jesus told Martha (Luke. 10:41-42). Inwardly Jesus lived with his heart turned permanently toward the Father, loving him, trusting him, waiting in him, depending on him, hearing him, seeing him and touching him. This was the secret that explains the type of man that he was. In Jesus nothing was performance; everything was overflow. How much of what we do is performance or imitation? How much of it is overflow? Jesus said: "from his inner most being shall flow rivers of living waters. The rivers flow out, they overflow.
But Jesus transferred his secret to us. Hallelujah! Let us read John 6: 57: "As the living Father has sent me and I live on account of the Father, he also who eats me shall live also on account of me. ".
In other words, in the same way as the Father had lived in our Lord Jesus Christ and He had lived by means of His Father, likewise Jesus Christ would live in our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit and we would live by means of him.
In conclusion, the synoptic gospels show us the ministry that the church should carry out in the world. This ministry is no other than the same one carried out by our Lord Jesus Christ. John's gospel, nevertheless, shows us the foundation of the church and, therefore, the foundation of its service. The foundation of the church cannot be any other than That which was Jesus' foundation.
Hunger that hurts
A couple of years ago I made the firm decision of being devoted to knowing Jesus Christ. I decided that I would not run after fame nor prosperity nor gifts nor anointing. I would yearn and run exclusively after him, after His person. Then I heard a song that came to interpret my decision so perfectly. That song is "I Prefer Christ", by Jesus Adrián Romero. From that day on, although outwardly I have been busier than ever, inwardly I have been heading toward a single thing, to know the Lord intimately. I have to recognize, nevertheless that the road has been difficult, long and the progress slow. God will not be manipulated and he has been waiting for many things to die in me so that my motivations are purified and so that I learn how to trust fully in him.
In these days I participated in a retreat and I heard another song that again came to interpret what I am living so perfectly. The song, by the same author, is called "A glimmer of His glory" and in it, it says something like this: "What would I not give for a glimmer of your glory..." and in the chorus it says: "I am hungry for you, for your presence, for your fragrance, for your power..." and this is the part that most touched me: "Hunger that hurts that weakens that despairs..." And indeed, I have felt this way. What happens is that whilst a person is more active, one becomes increasingly conscious, externally, of the uselessness and of the impotence of human resources when doing the work of God. Then, when the necessity of the presence of God becomes something urgent and the hunger is intensified, it hurts and makes one despair.