By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
Acts 20:35: “In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
In preparing to write this blog (I sometimes prepare to write this, but don’t get too used to it) I wanted to explore more about the verse that Charlie chose for his sermon on Sunday. Paul is quoting Jesus in this passage “It is more blessed to give than to receive," which is a great sentiment and a good quote for a sermon on "giving."
But I wanted to see some of the context there. I read Paul’s speech and liked it but didn’t really like it enough to do anything with it.
Next was to read the context around the quote from Jesus. What else was Jesus saying when he said the above quote? Who was he talking to? When in his ministry was he saying it? Maybe there’s something there for me to explore.
So, I looked it up. Went back to the gospels and looked for this teaching section from--I would have guessed--Matthew. You can find Jesus saying this…
We have nothing in our gospels that tells us that Jesus said these words.
Does this mean that Jesus never said this? Are we missing something here, or is Paul making stuff up just because it sounds good?
I’m pretty sure that Jesus said this. It sounds like something he said, and Paul would have been taught by the folks who knew Jesus personally. Paul was saying this stuff before the Gospels were even written, so it makes sense that he would use some quotes that we don’t find anywhere else.
But now I’ve got a problem. I’ve got Jesus FOMO.
For those of you who don’t know, that means Fear Of Missing Out. A fun acronym! Like BOGO, but not.
How much more of the Bible could we have if people just took better notes of what was happening? I get it, there was a lot of illiteracy and not a lot of writing things down. But, dang. I wish someone could have followed him around and jotted down some shorthand. Because I really want to know what else he said. What we have on the record is all pretty good stuff. There are parables, teachings, miracles, meals, trials. Through these we can get a good picture of who Jesus was, and we can know pretty well what he was all about.
But we could have more. And that bums me out.
What else could he have said? Could it be that all the extra stuff he said was just a restatement of what he said in the Gospels? Maybe. He walked around the country teaching. I’m guessing he didn’t change up his material every time he stopped in some village. So we can do without that, I guess. But what parables did we lose? What pieces of unrevealed wisdom did we miss?
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
That’s one of the missing quotes from Jesus that only survives because Paul happened to repeat it to his buddies.
What does this mean for you or me? Nothing. I guess this is one of those blind alleys that have no resolution, and we’ll just have to live with it. But if there’s any positive takeaway, it’s this: none of us have any idea who Jesus really was. None of us have the full picture. There is always more for us to learn. We can stop pretending we know it all, and remember there’s thirty-some years of quotes, and we just have four short books worth.
Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline