Until recently, all my published work, except for individual poems in literary magazines and the chapbook of Vietnam poetry, had been prose fiction. That has changed.
In May of 2018, I published a book of Christian-themed essays called Meditations of A Layman. The book is available on Amazon in paperback and digital (Kindle) formats. There are currently no plans for an audiobook.
Following is one of the short essays from the book. It comes directly from a personal experience with an old friend.
All That Christians Need
A friend, Ralph C. Hammond—who passed away in December of 2010 at age 94—once told me, referring to the 14th Chapter of John, “…if that’s all I had of The Bible, it would be all that I need.” Ralph had a storied life as a WWII war correspondent; a press secretary for Alabama’s governor, and president of the Alabama Writer’s Conclave as well as the State Poetry Society—then Poet Laureate of Alabama—to name a few of his literary achievements.
He singled out this chapter as enough for his faith, if nothing else was available.
Looking at the chapter, the reader is immediately struck by the wonderful, comforting words:
“Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”
In Chapter 13, John reported that Jesus had washed his disciples’ feet, teaching them about humility. He was also preparing them for His coming crucifixion and giving them a new commandment: that they love one another. Much had been happening in a short period of time and the disciples were confused. They’d heard Jesus say that one of them would betray him, they’d seen their Master acting as a servant and Judas Iscariot had left. Jesus had also said that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed in the morning.
Now was the moment when Jesus comforted them and showed them the way to The Father. He told them that he was going to The Father and prepare the way for them to join him. He told them, “And whither I go, ye know the way.”
Yes they did. They knew Him. I can imagine a loving smile on his face when Thomas spoke.
“Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?”
The Lord then used Thomas’ question to teach them even more.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
When another disciple, Philip, asks to be shown The Father, Jesus’ words are again loving, and mildly reproving.
“Jesus saith unto him, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father?’ Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.”
Look closely, Jesus has now definitively identified himself as one with God The Father. None of the other three (synoptic) Gospels report this declaration. In fact, Biblical scholars estimate that ninety percent of John’s Gospel is unique.
Consider the opening words of John’s Gospel, some texts call it a prologue:
“1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2.The same was in the beginning with God.
3.All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4.In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5.And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
14.And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
Lets go back about seven hundred years, to the prophesy of Isaiah:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
In John, Chapter 14, Jesus promises the Wonderful Counsellor, in Verse 16 and again in 26:
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Now, in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, we see the Wonderful Counsellor (the Holy Spirit) and the Everlasting Father present in the person of Jesus.
The next verse in John, number 27, completes the Trinity.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Jesus was and is the Prince of Peace.
In many ways my friend Ralph was right. All that Christians require is expressed in Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John: the Way to salvation through Him; the Holy Spirit for our comfort; Jesus for our savior and source of Peace in our lives.