This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
These verses always seem a bit much for me – there are clearly a finite number of things Jesus could have done during his life on earth, and even in John’s time I suspect there would have been enough books to contain all the details! It reminds me a bit of the bullied teenager claiming that of course they have a girlfriend/boyfriend, they just go to another school which is why the bully has never met them. Why exaggerate?
But what if we start thinking of all the things done in Jesus’ name since his ministry? Jesus has motivated great acts of compassion and self-sacrifice, and amazing works of art – and great evils have been done in his name including sectarian violence, colonial repression, and, to take a modern example, conversion therapy of LGBT people. So you might find books in all sorts of sections of the library – art, science, true crime – that recount the acts inspired by, or attributed to, service to Jesus.
Where would the book of your deeds best fit in the library? Would it be a family saga, telling of the way you loved those around you? Would it be a grand adventure? Would it be in the politics section, describing how you rebalanced the scales towards the poor and vulnerable?
I would be quite pleased if the book of my life ended up in the humour section – I’ve always felt life is too important not to laugh at, and humour can be a great way to make a point memorably, or defuse a tense situation.
But whether we would contribute a slim volume or a massive blockbuster to such a library, I pray that we may all know that our lives are known to God, and be able to make God known through them.
God, who knows our inmost thoughts, and our most minor actions, we pray that our lives may reflect your love.
When we feel ashamed about something we have done, help us to understand how to make things better.
When we are hopeless, and don’t know where to turn, show us the way.
When we have done something good, allow us to accept praise without losing our heads.
And may we help others see how we see your love shining through their lives.