By Tyson Thorne

May 2, 2019

GeekLikeMe Large

As a young adult I was dismayed by the fact that the small Gospel books meant to be given away were of the Gospel of John. Luke has long been my favorite because of his clear, logical presentation of the facts of the gospel message. John was too emotional for me. He is more concept oriented, contrasting themes, light and dark, that sort of thing. Luke is a book I can get my head around. Better yet, I thought, would be a book of Luke and Acts together as it tells a more complete story.

The fact is, the gospels are very different because their authors are very different. Luke was (likely) a Gentile, John a Jew. Luke was a believer, John an apostle. Luke was a logical thinking doctor and historian, John an emotive prophet. Luke begins with Jesus' lineage, a very step-by-step look down through history to prove Jesus' chops. John is the only gospel to exclude Jesus' ancestors, opting instead to describe Jesus as the eternal Word, present at creation and author of all the universe. While Luke addresses the details, John examines the big pictures and concepts. There is one thing that they can agree on, however.

Luke begins his gospel telling us that John the Baptist's parents were both "filled with the Holy Spirit" -- as was John the Baptist later, as was Mary when pregnant with Jesus, as was Zachariah at the temple -- and that Jesus too was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Luke concludes with the Holy Spirit filling the disciples and continuing Jesus' work. Jesus being the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises and covenants, his being the one to win salvation for mankind, his rejection by Israel and vindication by God are all in there, but they make up the meat in this Holy Spirit sandwich.

John, too, has a preoccupation with the Holy Spirit. In fact, John contains more of Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit than any other gospel. Whereas Luke and the synoptic gospels tell us a lot about the Holy Spirit, they actually say very little about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. John is different. While the other gospels refer to the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus at his baptism and being a force of empowerment, only John tells us that this "dove" identifies the Messiah and is the Giver of Life (John 6.33). John describes the Spirit as "wind" and "living water". It is as if Luke describes the Spirit from the outside, as an observer, while John describes the Spirit like an old friend. Which is perfectly natural considering the differences in their backgrounds.

As a man who has entered into what Benjamin Franklin called "the youth of old age" (ones 50's) I can see how the Gospel of John appeals to such a wide audience. Admittedly, I've always been a geek at heart. Sometimes with computers or science, and sometimes a Bible geek, and the facts, the details appeal to me more than esoteric concepts. But there is a character to John, a personality, that emerges and reads more like a poem written by a close friend than a textbook with a purpose. Perhaps, given their differences and similarities, John is the better book to give to others. Unless it is being given to a geek like me.

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