Posted by: thomasjrobb | April 17, 2013

I also hope you see

Recently, while preparing to teach on the life of the Apostle John, I was struck with the picture of a man whose inward life looked much like our own. You may think that I’m stretching things a bit when I dare to compare our lives to that of one of the 12 men chosen to be the representatives of Jesus, but let’s take a closer look to see if this claim has any validity.

John grew up on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, becoming a fisherman like his father Zebedee. When I think of a fisherman, I think of someone whose character has been forged by hard work and back-breaking labor. Fishing, as a way of life, was not for the faint of heart. From the constant maintenance of the fishing nets and boats, to long hours and sometimes stormy seas, it was no easy life.  How about your life?  Do “hard work”, “back-breaking labor”, “long hours” and “stormy seas” sound familiar to you?  Whether you labor with your hands, heart or head, those all sound like things that are typical of our professional lives these days.

Many biblical scholars describe John’s early character traits (before he met the Fisher of men) as hotheaded, rash, reckless and self-centered. I guess that makes sense in light of Jesus referring to John and his brother James as “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17)How about any of those early character traits, do any sound true of you?

John’s call to ministry began when Jesus called him to follow Him.

Mark 1:19-20 (ESV)
“And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

The act of accepting the call and following Jesus did not immediately change John.  Consider the words and actions of he and his brother in Mark 10:35-37…

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” (ESV) 

John and his brother go behind the backs of the other apostles with the express purpose of gaining position over the other ten apostles. They even went to the extent of enlisting their mother Salome to also speak to Jesus on their behalf.  In Luke 9:52-56, John and his brother ask Jesus if they should “…tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” after the people in a Samaritan village snub Jesus.  And, oh yes, what about the time when John took it on his own to tell Jesus about stopping someone from casting out demons because they were not part of their group? (Mark 9:38)  Desiring to be first, drawing someone you love into a selfish scheme, taking Jesus’ place in judging and punishing, discerning who is “in” and who is “out” when it comes to kingdom work … could any of these be true of us?

Each of the incidents mentioned above revealed John’s spiritual immaturity, and each brought a rebuke from Jesus. But each also shaped John into the man he was meant to be, and that Jesus and His church would need him to be.

Lets see what three years with Jesus did for John…

John was one of the first disciples chosen.
John was the only one of the twelve apostles present at the cross.
After pentecost John fearlessly preached the Gospel in Jerusalem suffering beatings and imprisonment.
John was part of Jesus’s inner circle (Peter,James & John).
John was present at the transfiguration.
Jesus entrusted John with the care of His mother at the cross.

I wonder if you see a little (or a lot) of “early” John in you?  I hope that is not all that you see.  I also hope you see how time spent with Jesus made all the difference in John’s life.  And how that should give you hope for what time spent with Jesus can do for your life too!

yeam2012


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