And now we look at James’ brother, John. Early on, John is every bit as much of a rugged fisherman with a hot temper and lack of love. He is ready, along with James, to “call down fire from heaven” on some disagreeable Samaritans.
The one time we hear a quote by John is in the gospel of Mark and Luke. Jesus has healed a mute boy with seizures. Later, some of the disciples discuss who is greater among them. Jesus gives another lesson in servitude and humility. It doesn’t seem to compute. John says,
“Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Mark 9:38
Jesus explains to him that believing in Him and doing something in His name is a good thing. Jesus continually works with the disciples to overcome their intolerant, elitist attitudes. By the time John writes his own gospel, he has been humbled. In fact, he is the only one who relates the incident of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
John is enamored with truth. He speaks of it 25 times in his gospel and another 20 times in his three epistles. Things are very cut and dried, black and white for John. He writes about: light and dark, life and death, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, fruit and fruitlessness, love and hate, obedience and disobedience, and on goes the list. John takes in Jesus’ words—
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
But John learns to balance truth with love.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
God loved. God gave. If we believe, we receive.
John alone quotes Jesus’ words—
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34
In his first letter, John says,
We love because he first loved us. I John 4:19
It is John who follows Jesus from his arrest in the garden to the trial at Caiaphas’ house. While the other disciples flee, it is John who stands by Mary at the cross and it is John whom Jesus asks to care for his mother.
In his later years, John is banned to the isle of Patmos where he receives the vision of latter times on earth and in heaven. He writes the Revelation we have in our Bibles. Aside from Luke and Paul, John wrote more of the New Testament than any other. He is the last of the twelve apostles to die.
Let us say and live, along with John, “We love because he first loved us.” I John 4:19
~ Joyce ~