Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." Then the Pharisees said to him, "You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid." - John 8:12-20
Every preacher has a favorite gospel. Some love Luke and the way the tables are turned on the powerful. Some love Matthew and the power of the Sermon on the Mount. Some love Mark with its breathless urgency and drama. Some love John for its . . . its . . . I'm really not sure.
Because the flip side is that every preacher has a least favorite gospel and—for me—it's most definitely the gospel of John. I've always struggled with John for precisely the reason the Pharisees name in this passage. Jesus is always talking about himself! I get it, Jesus, You are the Son of God. I got it the first ten times You said it, can we please move on to the next topic? Like, say, how we should treat the poor?
But this is why it's important we have four gospels. Because preachers like me who want practical lessons need to wrestle with this mystical and cosmic gospel, this story of the pre-existent Word coming to dwell among us. Preachers like me who want to whip up turnout for the next social justice rally need to get up and say the words "For God so loved the world."
Because although we are allowed to have favorites among scripture, we're not allowed to ignore any of it, especially not the parts we find difficult.
O Word of God incarnate, You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. Help me follow You.
John Edgerton is Associate Pastor at Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts.