As we continue our series on the 12 disciples, we are finding a common theme. The 12 are not halo-wearing saints before Jesus does transformation in them. Certainly, in time, they learn what it means to follow Jesus; but they are anything but perfect as they walk with Jesus. Last week, we considered the older son of Zebedee (James). This week, we come to his younger brother (John). The two stories we looked at last week are really about the two brothers. It is difficult to separate James from John because they are always mentioned together. James appears alone only in Acts 12 when his martyrdom is documented. Every other mention is with his brother. John is a different story. On the one hand, John outlives all the other disciples. Scholars date his death around 98 AD. He gets to watch the unfolding of the early church. On the other hand, John writes more of the New Testament than any other disciple. We not only have record of his actions; we have his very words in the form of his gospel, three epistles and the Revelation of Jesus. We know a good bit about John and his transformation through the first century.
When we read John’s epistles, we encounter a love-oriented, Jesus-centered disciple who is passionate about Jesus followers living in unity and love for one another. But let’s not forget that this is the same John that Jesus once called a Son of Thunder. We look this week at a couple of stories about the disciple John and compare them to his words in his letters to the early church. The same John who wanted to burn up the Samaritans and asked Jesus for the best seat in the Kingdom grew in his understanding of Jesus. While he was passionate, he lacked compassion. While he was zealous in his pursuit of Jesus, he lacked love. But he would later write,
(1 John 4:7 NIV) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
As we continue to study the disciples, we might be surprised at how much work Jesus had to do in them. At the same time, we should be encouraged that God is able to accomplish metamorphosis. The apostle John is a reminder that God can change each of us as we allow him to do his work in us. Join us on Sunday as we talk about one of the most well-known disciples, John.