Last week, we looked at the different filters through which we have viewed John. He is seen as the disciple that Jesus deeply loved and who loved God considerably. He is a fiery and passionate soul that Christ both encouraged and forewarned to use this zeal correctly. He is a man of vision who God gave the clearest and most descriptive picture of the things that are to come. John is a complex and deep individual. However, there is more to John than just his personality. John put action to his ideas, thoughts and person. Today, we look at John as a man of action knowing the depth and nature of his personality that drove him.
For this purpose we will look at his background, the types of scripture he wrote and how far he was willing to go. It is our hope and belief that by understanding these things, we'll have a clear picture of what we can become in Christ!
Simple Background To Great Expectations
John, like many of the people Christ called, came from a simple background. He had a good family life as both his mother and father were in the picture and believed in the message Christ gave. Even his brother, James, was a part of Christ's inner circle. However, outside of that family support and a faith and a devotion that seems unmatched, John doesn't have anything that special about him.
John was a fisherman (Matthew 4:21), a profession that was common but was also associated with simple minded and simple living folks. One wasn't going to become a wealthy or cultured man from that career. John was also from Galilee. As we've seen from this study of the gospels, people from Galilee weren't held in high esteem by the other Jews. When we look in Acts, the Sanhedrin dismissed both Peter and John as simple minded people. This is most likely from their background as fishermen from Galilee.
In spite of this simple background, God rose up John to be used mightily. He wrote one of the four gospels, and his gospel is the final authority on Christ's life. In it is held all of the information that was left out from the other gospels. Is this because the other men were mistaken, wrong or purposely omitting info? No. It's because God saved this information for his beloved. The one who had opened himself up completely to God was now given information that God did not give or inspire the other writers to record. When we live a life opened up to receive the love of God like John did, we will get deeper insights and more expansive understanding of Christ and His purpose for us and those around us. John probably also recorded information in his gospel that others didn't because he was more keyed in during those moments. He also got to go places that others didn't because of his relationship with Jesus. When we get close to God and focus when he acts, we'll see those things that Christ wants others to see and hear. This will enrich us, but it will also enrich the lives of everyone we go and tell it to. We might come from simple backgrounds, but doing this will lead to a diverse and fruitful future.
A Man of Many Methods
We've already addressed that John wrote a gospel. That would be classified as a history book as it is an historical account of Christ and His ministry. However, John also wrote three epistles, or letters. These would fall under prose base instruction. Finally, and we talked briefly about this in the last devotion, but John wrote a book of prophecy, focusing on the future. Past, present and future. History, Corrective Prose and Prophecy. Nobody in the history of the written word of God has this catalog.
There have been historians who looked at the past to help the current generation and beyond. There have been those who wrote prose and poetry that fed the soul in the present. There have been prophets and teachers who proclaimed the future as both warning and promise for those who would hear and receive. However, never was there an individual who did all three. Peter wrote corrections and he may have had a hand in the book of Mark, but he didn't write prophetically. Some of Moses writings are found in Psalms and he of course wrote the early history of the Jews, but he never wrote a prophetic work. Only John operated in the three types of writing found in the Bible. God trusted His most beloved with His historical record, the correction of the saints and the foretelling of God's plan and purpose for the future of mankind and the universe.
When we choose to love God and let Him love us, he will diversify our gifting. Just as John was a gifted writer and related to individuals well, God has given each of us a gift and a purpose. However, many of us don't use the diversity of this gift to its fullest extent. The only thing we can do to diversify it is draw near to God, love Him and let Him love us back. It's this action that offers and leads us to salvation (John 3:16). It's what opens the gifts up to us in the first place. And according to God's Word, it's what makes or breaks our gifts:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; (1 Corinthians 13:1-4)
If we want to start being used by God the way John was used by God, we better open up the love in our lives, both in the giving and receiving of it. Only then can we become exactly what God wants us to be: a diversified and effective servant of His Kingdom.
Committed to the End
Finally, we discover exactly what kind of man John was by how far he was willing to go for Christ. At the time of the crucifixion, most of Christ's followers were in hiding. They had run off in fear, shame and, in Judas' case, self resentment. Only a handful of followers were bold enough to surround Christ as he hung on the cross. The fact that anyone was there was uncommon. Most men who were crucified only had the Roman guards to keep them company. Here, Christ had a band of women and one man. That man was John. Despite being the youngest disciple, he had the greatest devotion. Surely, the Sanhedrin or the Pharisees could have pointed him out. After all, they were there to mock Christ as he died, and they would have recognized John from their many confrontations with Christ and his followers. John risked imprisonment and even death to stand and kneel at the feet of Jesus. This gave him one of the greatest honors when Jesus asked him to care for his mother Mary:
When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. (John 19:26-27)
The vessel that brought Christ into the world was now being trusted in the hands of the one man who loved and allowed himself to be loved as John did. When we love God with all of ourselves and allow Christ to love us the way He desires, we will find ourselves trusted with that which is precious even unto God. That which He holds sacred and valuable will come under our care.
All it takes to accomplish all that John did is an open heart and devoted life. If we will allow ourselves to be loved by God the way He wants to love us-through an open discourse, relationship and devotion unto Him-we'll find ourselves coming from humble beginnings into great expectations. We'll diversifying our skill set in the Kingdom and in our walk with God. Finally, we'll be trusted with that which God most treasures. All it takes is love and a willingness to be loved.
Join us next time as we look at a unique individual in John's gospel and how it relates to both John and to ourselves. Until then, God bless and keep searching!
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.