To keep with the theme of John’s writing style of being distinctly different from the synoptic Gospels, John closes his letter with… well, a non-closing.
Instead of wrapping everything up in a nice, neat fashion, John kind of leaves his audience hanging.
He leaves the ending open.
With his final remarks, he opens an entirely new world for those who knew the story of Jesus. To fit much with the theme of personal conversations found throughout his writings, John’s ending allows for others to tag on their stories of how Jesus touched and transformed their lives.
Just think of all the numbers of people whom Jesus healed, touched, forgave, saved, and loved that did not make it into the canon of Scripture. Not because they were anti-gospel or evil stories, but, as John states, for the sheer amount of stories that would be contained.
Imagine. All the books in the Library of Congress could not hold all the testimonies, miracles, and events that surrounded Jesus and His ministry while on earth.
But, I do not think that that is the only reason why God inspired John to end his gospel that way. I think God had something bigger in mind.
In formal writing classes, students are taught to have an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. These are the most basic building blocks for an essay, novel, or short story. I was taught a good conclusion does two things:
It reiterates the point you have been trying to drive home for the entirety of your work of literature. You can argue about semantics about whether or not to restate your thesis or not, but, regardless, you have to remind the reader of the journey you took him or her on. This is what the Matthew, Mark, and Luke do a beautiful job of doing. They tie up the loose ends, leaving their readers with a completed version of their perspective of Jesus’ story.
But a good conclusion also leaves the reader with some sense of dissatisfaction, an ache to re-read, research, and learn more for themselves. The evidence you presented was compelling, but your conclusion presented a twist that grabbed the reader when they least expected it.
This is what John’s gospel does.
What if God prompted John to write an open ending in order to show humanity that the story was not over? Sure, Matthew, Mark, and Luke give us perspectives that give us a portable, complete story; their approach is not wrong.
But what if God inspired John to leave some loose ends as an invitation for us to join into a story that is not over? What if John’s gospel is God’s way of allowing us to write our own story in His story?
Imagine the number of words, the number of chapters, the number of books, and the number of volumes that would exist today.
I think John was right when he said the works of Jesus could not be contained in all the books in the world.
Because the final chapter has not be written yet. God is still inviting others into His story. The ending is still open.
And it is waiting for your chapter.