I had a realization a few weeks ago: Jesus didn’t write anything. Unlike many historical figures or religious leaders, he himself left no writings. Yes, we believe the Bible is inspired by God, but Jesus didn’t actually pen it. Why is this important?
First, what Jesus said and did was so compelling that he didn’t have to write it down. How astounding must he have been, that the essence of his life has been transmitted for 2,000 years? The first eyewitnesses memorized, retold, and wrote detailed accounts of his life and teaching. He did not rely on strategically crafted self-promotion. The Spirit-driven power of his word and miracles inspired a viral reception.
Another reason it is significant that Jesus of Nazareth was unpublished: He didn’t leave a book, he left a people. He didn’t leave a collection of writings, he left a community with a commission. At first, it was a feeble band of fearful disciples. But the ranks grew rapidly after his resurrection and ascension.
In his book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Missiologist Leslie Newbigin wrote: "Jesus manifestly did not intend to leave behind him simply a body of teaching. If that had been his intention he would surely have written a book and we should have something like the Qur'an instead of this book we have. What he did was to prepare a community chosen to be the bearer of the secret of the kingdom."
Jesus' prayer to the Father expresses his purpose. "As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18). He extends the mission of God through his people, not through a program, propaganda, or a politic.
The Christian movement has traversed geography, culture, race, and language, not by the distribution of Bibles, but by the movement of people. Yes, the written Scriptures go with, but it's always people at the center, a people who embody the gospel of Jesus in word and deed. Our message is not a disembodied philosophy. The story of redemption is incarnate in a people who exhibit the grace of God in their own story.
Jesus didn't leave a collection of writings. He left a commissioned people, of which you are a part. The Word is in you. You bear his name. You carry his Spirit. You abide by the promise of his presence. Where will he send you today, that you might be his book?