“Word for Today” – Acts 20 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

October 16, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

DVD 1When the DVD medium was in its prime, it seemed as though every movie, every series, and every documentary had its own special director’s cut, director’s commentary, “making of” commentary, and deleted scenes chapter all packaged tidily in a DVD boxed set full of “bonus features,” which, of course, also happened to be a limited-time-collector-edition boxed set that would one day become a valuable collectors’ item.  I have yet to see any of those DVD boxed sets reach their stated aim.  I’ll keep waiting.

The failure of these boxed sets to reach their coveted “collector” status notwithstanding, the bonus features on many of these collections are at least mildly interesting.  It’s fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at how some of my favorite movies were made.  I perhaps most enjoy the “deleted scenes” feature because it allows me to judge for myself the value of a particular scene.  Sometimes, I watch a deleted scene and ask, “Why did they delete that?  That would’ve added a lot to the story line!”  Other times, I watch a deleted scene and wonder, “Was that really worth the film it’s recorded on?  Couldn’t that film have been used for nobler purposes, like archiving Home Shopping Network coverage?”

In our reading for today from Acts 20, Paul gives his farewell speech to the elders at the Christian church of Ephesus.  Interestingly, he “sails past Ephesus” (verses 16), asking the Ephesian elders to instead meet him at the coastal town of Miletus (verse 17) so that he is not detained by the grieving members of the Ephesian congregation who would have surely offered protracted and tearful goodbyes in the face of his departure.  During his address to these elders, he reminds them, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (verse 35).  Paul quotes Jesus’ words as they are recorded Matthew’s gospel to extol the value of service.  Or are those Jesus’ words as they are recorded in Mark’s gospel?  Wait, I think they’re from Luke.  Then again, those words may be from John.

Actually, Jesus’ famed words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” are recorded in none of the four gospels.  Paul, well aware that there are many “deleted scenes” from Jesus’ life as it is recorded in the gospels, gives us a “bonus feature,” or perhaps more accurately, a “bonus teaching,” from Jesus on service which has served us well for millennia.

At the end of his gospel, John honestly confesses, “Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).  John confesses that, although his biography of Jesus’ life is certainly towering, inspiring, and infinitely useful, it is not comprehensive.  Jesus has done more.  Jesus has taught more.  And Paul, graciously, gives the Ephesian elders – and, by extension, us – a glimpse into one of the things that Jesus has taught which, nevertheless, was not recorded in the gospels.

Lest we be afraid that we are missing some vital piece of information about Jesus’ word and work, Paul boldly proclaims earlier in his address to the Ephesian elders, “I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God” (verse 27).  In saying this, Paul does not mean that he has recounted for them every thing that Jesus ever said or did; rather, he means that everything necessary for life and salvation has been sufficiently and graciously revealed to us in the pages of Holy Writ.  The writers of Scripture have given us all the “bonus features” and “deleted scenes” we need.

In certain modern day critical and cynical circles, it has become fashionable to seek out “bonus features” and “deleted scenes” of Jesus’ life by scouring extra-canonical sources.  Although these sources can shed some helpful interpretive light on Scripture, they should not be mustered in an attempt to overthrow and call into question the inspired teaching and record of Scripture.  For Scripture alone has given us the whole will of God.   Scripture alone has “given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).  Scripture alone is sufficient for us to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing have life in his name” (John 20:31).  So today, give thanks that you need no biblical boxed set full of special features to know and love God.  For he has already given you everything you need, even his Son, in the simple pages of his Word.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 19 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 21 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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