The Unwritten Things Which Jesus Did

John 21:25  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 9
“There are also many other things which Jesus did.” And since He did them, clearly they were not aimless, but had a divinely ordained purpose. It might be asked why they are not recorded if such questioning were not anticipated in the selfsame verse. The answer is, that a complete account, as one has said, would be practically infinite. “The world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” Nor is this oriental hyperbole. The figurativeness of the language is obvious; but, as in all appropriate imagery, the symbolical setting serves to press home the truth symbolized not only more forcibly than plain matter-of-fact language, but as something transcending the literal force of the image itself. In this case the theme is infinite, and is therefore susceptible of infinite treatment.
These “many other things,” including doubtless the “many other signs” mentioned in the previous chapter, are indeed unknown to us save as to their general character; but we know that they must have been marked by the same divine grace and stainless holiness, by the same moral glory, that stamped all that the Son of God wrought. They were probably called forth by some need or some sorrow. But we can go no farther—would wish to go no farther; for, as another has put it excellently well, “The silence of God is to be respected in the next place to His utterance.” Still, inasmuch as the Holy Ghost notes the fact that there were “many other things” done by our blessed Lord, it is plainly incumbent on us to heed it. The renewed heart indeed dwells with delight on this thought, and the spiritual mind recognizes its fitness. For that life of ceaseless self-sacrifice could not but be the occasion of other deeds of mercy than those that are recounted in the Gospels, numerous and unfathomable as the latter are. Those lips, “replenished with grace,” must have distilled many an unrecorded benediction; those hands, uplifted in blessing, when the risen Lord ascended, mark the end, and yet not the end, of an unwearied course of love.
But if, in the wisdom of God, many a deed of mercy, many a word of comfort, or, may be, of holy indignation is unrevealed. it by no means follows that such must ever remain a mystery. May not eternity give scope for the unfolding of these “many other things” which have been already “seen of angels”? At any rate it is and must be profitable to ponder every statement of scripture, and not least when the Lord Jesus Himself is the direct theme. Direct or indirect object, we know He must always be. And so again, and yet again, each time we read the passage, we love to be reminded that we have a record only of “parts of His ways.”
Still, although we have in no wise an exhaustive history of our blessed Lord's life on earth, yet we do possess a full and perfect revelation. If a merely human writer of eminence is capable of making such judicious selection from the sayings and doings of a great man as to present, on the whole, a duly proportioned portrait, leaving out nothing essential, it would be strange if the Spirit of God could do less. Nay, contrariwise, as we are well aware, even the ablest human histories are liable at times to be one-sided, and we hear a Macaulay, musing in sober mood, that as “science is a blind man's guess,” so “history is a nurse's tale.” Such after all are human chronicles spite of all excellences and the best intentions. But in that word, whereof God is the real Author, and which He has “magnified above all His name” (and if this be true of the Old Testament, not less surely of the New), we are presented with a perfect picture of the Son of God. On the one hand there is a true perspective, on the other divine accuracy of detail, where detail was the object of the Spirit. Now one Evangelist only relates a suited truth, or parable, or miracle; now the same incident is recounted by two, or three, or even by the four.
In short, the object of the Holy Ghost is told us by John in the 20th chapter of his Gospel. “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” Enough and more than enough for this, be it said reverently; yet not too much for “our learning” (Rom. 15:44For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4)), not too much for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:1616All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)), though we are often slow to work that inexhaustible mine How little have we explored, but what of the still smaller portion we have, so to speak, made our own! We do oftentimes but touch the fringe of the divine teaching, and the most diligent are but as spiritual Newtons, gathering pebbles on the boundless shore. Yet, such is His grace, merely to “touch the hem of His garment.” is fraught with richest blessing.
To conclude, our Lord's ministry, whether by word or deed, whether recorded or unrecorded, was that which He could not but perform. He could not but work His own works, which miracles indeed were, even as they were the works of the Father that sent Him (John 9:44I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4)). And while each sign bore witness of Him, of Whom all the prophets had spoken, yet indisputably they derived their chief luster from Him, Who wrought them. Let us not forget that He is “this same Jesus” (Acts 1:1111Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)) now and for, evermore. R. B. Junr.