The Significance of the Fourth Gospel -- By: Philip Howard Wichern

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 099:394 (Apr 1942)
Article: The Significance of the Fourth Gospel
Author: Philip Howard Wichern

The Significance of the Fourth Gospel

Philip Howard Wichern

In Ezekiel 47:3–5 we have the story of the man measuring the depth of the waters, four measurements being made, the last of which was a “river that I could not pass through; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.” This seems to me typical of the Four Gospels as each one depicts a phase of our Lord’s life on earth. Each one has a deeper realm into which we may step in understanding our Saviour, from Matthew to John, but John is the overwhelming flood, “the rivers of living water” (John 7:38), and an ever-springing well of water “springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Here we are lost in the swirling tides of Deity’s ceaseless activity and inscrutable Person. We must swim, and it seems impossible to pass through it. The glories of the Son of God come down with healing in His wings may be veiled, but so wondrous is His simple teaching and life, that we feel helpless to know Him, and cry with the awe-stricken crowd, “What manner of Man is this?”

This is the Gospel of the “Eagle,” which is one of the things too wonderful for the man of wisdom (Prov 30:19); for Christ “knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for He knew what man was.” His was the way of the eagle in the air-“I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world; again I leave the world, and go to the Father” (John 16:28), and “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also” (John 14:3). He is the keen-sighted One,

seeing into the Samaritan woman’s life, understanding Judas’ purpose and Pilate’s failure.

This is the Gospel of Perfection, for chapter by chapter we see the perfection of God’s presentation of Himself. The Perfect Son of God (chap. 1) is seen as the Perfect Creator (chap. 2) and the Perfect Teacher (chap. 3), as the Perfect Master (chap. 4), a Perfect Judge (chap. 5), a Perfect Sustainer of life (chap. 6), a Perfect Priest in the Temple (chap. 7), the Perfect Light on God’s program and man’s sin (chap. 8), the Perfect Healer (chap. 9), the Perfect Shepherd (chap. 10), the Perfect Friend (chap. 11), and the Perfect King (chap. 12). In what fuller way could He be presented to the world as the Perfect Example, the Fulfilment of God’s I...

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