John, The Apostle – Part 2
I am impressed to continue looking at the life of this man, John. We understand he was younger than Jesus. It’s been suggested he was in his later teen years. He grew up and lived in Galilee. As mentioned previously, he was a cousin, or some extended relative of Jesus. I used to think that the disciples were all completely unknown to Jesus until He called them. I now think He may have had some acquaintance with them. John and James were sons of Zebedee. Many of these details are relatively unimportant, that is, they are not critical for our lives. I mention them to consider the reality of Jesus’ life on the earth, and John’s walk with Him. I think we can glean some thoughts for our own walk with Him in this life.
John was a fisherman. As I did some research, John was misunderstood to be a bit feminine, even effeminate. This was extended from him laying against Jesus’ chest but that effeminate picture does not fit being a fisherman. He may not have been as rough and tough as the others but being a fisherman took some strength and normal masculinity. Further, that physical closeness is mentioned once. We do not discount his closeness with Jesus but John was not always physically hanging on the Lord. It’s recorded that he and James were mending the nets while the others were engaged elsewhere. Jesus saw that and called them. See Matt. 4:21 and Mark 1:19. Later John and James are active in ways that were stitching believers together.
For many of us as members of Christ, we find that same calling. We work to see His body, His people knit together in love. I find such ease meeting and connecting with those who know Jesus well. They are secure in His love. They are not threatened to be known. Our religious walls come up when we are afraid to relate to someone. This may be a believer or an unbeliever. In those moments we can trust in God, and not look to our own self-protection. Is He our refuge and strength? Or do we look to our natural wits? We have all done this, as we see in the lives of the Lord’s people in the scripture. David feigned insanity in front of an enemy king. And Paul divided his adversaries, the Pharisees and Sadducees, when threatened. See Acts 23:6-10.
Rather, remember the words of Jesus Christ, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We learn not to open up to everyone about everything. I learned some hard lessons in this area. Not every believer can be trusted to keep our confidence. We learn to be wise, trustworthy, and slow to speak. Speaking the truth in love is one of the most important lessons we must learn if we are to be fruitful spiritually. By that His body builds itself up in love toward that place of maturity to which He calls all men. May we hear and follow on after that. It becomes so very simple. Let knowing Him become your goal and don’t be distracted.
John was one who was secure in the love of Christ. Psalm 91 comes to mind. John grew into that secret place of the Most High. We can follow his story from Jesus calling him as he was mending the nets, to Jesus baptism by John and seeing the dove and hearing the voice, through the 3-1/2 years of miracles, to watching Lazarus come out of the tomb. John saw all this. And he also watched as Jesus commented that those who know the will of God and do it are His family. Luke 8:19-21. I think that afterwards Jesus went out and spoke with His mother. Going on from Lazarus resurrection, John leans on His chest at that last covenant-making meal and betrayal, he watches the trial in the courtyard, and sits at the foot of cross. With 4 women, he watches the unthinkable, supporting them. He hears the cry of a Roman oppressor, “Truly this was a son of God.” Did that soldier fully realize what he was saying? I am sure he was never the same after.
Do we know Him crucified? This is the beginning. It seems that some start somewhere else. Perhaps one has been healed, or some other miraculous change in their life has occurred, and it was evident that Jesus did it. If such a one turns away, he does so in danger. Do not harden your heart. Yes, you may find yourself in a struggle but do not turn away. Jesus once healed 10 lepers who had come to Him seeking that healing. Only one returned to thank Him and that one did so in an attitude of worship. In Psalm 2 we are encouraged to kiss the Son. This is about worship. He is worthy and we resist yielding all. I have struggled through much myself. It is our self-love that is under all our struggles. We must love Him more than all including our own selves. He said exactly that. Luke 14:26.
John knew overcoming because he followed Christ and learned to stay close. He knew the love of the One who not only called him but who gave Himself on the cross. All must come to see this and receive Him as given by God Himself. He is the gift of God to the world. I have found this is not a one-time experience but the reality of it increases each time I stumble or fall short in some way. The blood avails always, fully and completely. There is that place of mercy and as He was raised, so we rise by His grace to continue on. Like John continued on eventually receiving that Revelation on Patmos, we must press on. Never give up, never surrender to your self. Keep yielding to Him.