Answer by John Mackay
Jesus is among the few so called founders of a religion – who never left any books, biographies or personal memoirs behind. Not during His earthly lifetime, anyway. He was on this earth as a human for approximately 33 years, from his birth to his crucifixion and resurrection and for some days thereafter, but there is no record of Jesus ever writing anything on parchment for posterity, and we have no personal correspondence signed by his earthly hand! Some religious leaders like Mohammed could neither read nor write, so such a written record was impossible for them.
But could Jesus read and write?
In the Gospels Luke records: “He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” (Luke 4:16-18) So, yes, we know Christ could read.
There are also two references to him writing. The Apostle John records “Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger,” and further on “Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.” (John 8: 6, 8) What did he write? We may never know for sure, but we do know he did not just doodle, since the Apostle John twice uses the Greek word for ‘wrote’ to describe what Jesus did! So there is no reason He could not have written a best seller such as “I came from heaven, and it wasn’t aliens”.
Some of the Apostles, disciples and early converts, many of whom were eyewitnesses, could write, and have left records for us. The Apostle John describes himself as the one “who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24) The earliest copy we have of John’s writing is kept in the John Ryland’s museum in Manchester in the UK dated between AD 80 and the end of the first century.
The Apostle John also wrote down the Book of Revelation, and some of it was by direct dictation from Jesus. Revelation begins with: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants — things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.” After appearing to John, Jesus dictates seven letters to churches, with John acting as scribe. (Revelation 2 & 3) It was quite common in those days to use a scribe, but the one who dictated the letter was still considered the author of it. Therefore, Christ is certainly the author by dictation of some of the last book in the Bible. The remainder of the book is John’s record of what he saw and heard, in accordance with Christ’s instruction to “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches …”
Perhaps one reason Jesus didn’t use written records during His life on earth may have been that many of the people He spoke to (fishermen, the poor, etc.) could neither read, nor write, so what would be the point? And sadly those that could (Jewish leaders and the Pharisees) rejected Him.
After Jesus ascended to Heaven, the disciples begin to disperse around the globe and began to share the Gospel with both Jews and pagans, and it became a necessity to record their eyewitness accounts. Greeks and Romans would not have known the Old Testament scriptures, but many of them could read and write. Furthermore, the Apostles and other eyewitness knew they would not live forever, and it was important that written records were left of what they had seen and heard.
The converted Greek medical doctor, Luke, begins his Gospel with “Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)
Likewise his book of Acts starts; “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1-3)
One last factor is worth mentioning. When you come to grips with the Old Testament and New Testament teaching that Jesus is the Creator, and an equal member of the Triune Godhead, you also come to grips with the fact that when the Word of God spoke to man, as occurred with many of the prophets, it was Jesus doing the speaking. Furthermore, when the Word of God was written for man such as in the Ten Commandments, it was Jesus the Word who had done the writing, with own hand. (Exodus.31:18, Deuteronomy 9:10)
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