This month, we are going to learn about one of the most well-known Disciples of Jesus: John. John and his brother James were both fishermen and called to be Disciples by Jesus. Some believe that John and James’ mother, Salome, was the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. If this is true, then both John and James would be Jesus’ cousin. John wrote five books in the Bible: The Book of John, First John, Second John, Third John, and the Book of Revelation. John is thought to be the youngest of all the Disciples.
John was part of Jesus’ inner circle along with Peter and James. He was present with them at the Transfiguration, witnessing Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah on the mountain. John and James were called by Jesus the “sons of thunder,” because sometimes John was sometimes reckless, impetuous, and aggressive. In Mark 9, he forbids a man to cast out demons in Jesus’ name because the man was not a Disciple. In Luke 9, we read that he and his brother wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans who refused to welcome Jesus. Jesus rebuked both of these acts. Then if you remember from a couple of weeks ago in Matthew 20, John and James asked Jesus (along with their mother) to let them sit at the right and left side of Jesus in the Kingdom.
John did grow in maturity, and he learned from his mistakes. He began to truly understand the need to be humble and a servant in order to be great in God’s Kingdom. John is the only gospel that records Jesus washing the Disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. Jesus’ simple act of servanthood that evening impacted John greatly. By the time of the crucifixion, Jesus had enough confidence in John to ask him to take care of His own mother after His death. From that day on, John took care of Mary as if she were his mother.
Later, John was perceived as a threat and imprisoned on the island of Patmos. It was here that he heard the voice of God and wrote the final book of the Bible – Revelation – telling about the end of time. John wrote probably the best known verse in the Bible – John 3: 16, “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son that we should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John is also called the “apostle of love” because he refers to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.”
The Bible does not give us any details about how the Apostle John died, but tradition says that he was finally released from Patmos, probably because of old age, and returned to what is now Turkey. In this theory, John is the only Disciple to die peacefully of old age.
Let’s say a prayer together. Thank You Heavenly Father, for the Disciple John. We can see from his life the need to be humble, a servant to all, and love even those we don’t agree with. We know that You let us grow into mature Christians and use us as You see fit just like John. Help us to remember John’s most famous verse: John 3: 16 about how You love us so much that You sent Jesus to save us for eternity. It is in His name we pray, Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.