Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
John - March 15, 2017 - Third Mid-Week of Lent - Text: Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; 10:35; 14:33; John 13:23; 21:7, 20
As we began last week, so we begin this week, with the reminder that we call the Word of God the “Good News” and rightly so, for it is the good news of salvation for all who believe. This year during the season of Lent through Easter Sunday we are hearing of the events surrounding the suffering and death of Jesus through the different characters of those involved in the events. Prayerfully we are getting a better understanding of the personalities and thus the reasons for the specific actions of the characters through actual Biblical statements and “quotes” of each person.
Last week we continued our theme by looking at the character we might call the most volatile, the one who would act first and think second, Peter. As we heard about Peter so we were reminded of ourselves, that as he confessed Jesus as Lord, he did so, not by his own power and will, but as it was given to him by God the Father so that even we who confess Jesus as Lord do so by the power of the Holy Spirit giving us faith and that proclamation. And as Peter denied Jesus and was forgiven, so as we daily deny our faith the Lord forgives us as well. This evening we move on to look at the character of John, the one who often referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
What do we know about John? John was also one of the first apostles to be called by Jesus. He was with his brother James working as a fisherman in cooperation with Peter and his brother Andrew. John worked for his father Zebedee. From all indications John was probably the youngest of the group. He is also the one who wrote the Gospel of John as well as the Revelation of John and the epistles of John. John was one of the “inner circle” of Jesus as it is called, along with Peter and James. John was also on the mount of transfiguration as we read last week and again today, “after six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’”(Matthew 17:1-9).
Along with many of the Jewish community who knew the prophecies of the coming Savior, John and his family did not completely understand what the prophecies meant. Many were looking, not for a spiritual Savior from sin, but an earthly Savior from the Romans and perhaps some were looking for a bit of a combination of both. When it comes to God’s Kingdom we are told, “then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘we want you to do for us whatever we ask.’ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ he asked. They replied, ‘Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said. ‘Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.’ When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Mark 10:35-45). It is rather obvious to us today that they did not completely understand Jesus’ work.
As we heard last week so again this week, one important bit of history was the Passover Celebration Jesus enjoyed with His disciples. Actually it was His last Passover where we learn more of the events that were to take place. We note that John, again who refers to himself as the disciple Jesus loved is the one next to Jesus. “‘I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: “He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.” ‘I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.’ After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. ‘What you are about to do, do quickly,’ Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night” (John 13:18-30).
Later that evening after the supper Jesus took His disciples out to pray and we hear about John again. “they went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Simon,’ he said to Peter, ‘are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.’ Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’”(Mark 14:32-42)
At Jesus trial we are told that it was John who got Peter into the courtyard where some of the proceedings were taking place. And following Jesus conviction and during His time on the cross, John was one of the few who actually came to the cross. John was there giving comfort to Jesus’ mother who was also there witnessing her son’s death. We are told that “near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:25-27).
Following Jesus’ resurrection, Peter announced that he was returning to his former trade and go fishing and John was one who went as well. That night they went fishing and caught nothing, but in the morning Jesus showed Himself on the shore, although they did not know it was Him. When He told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they had a large catch of fish John realized it was Jesus. We are told, “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:7-14).
So, what do we know about John. He was a young man, chosen by Jesus to be an apostle. His career path began as a fisherman in the family fishing business. He was not a step up, speak out leader, but he was one who was more of a behind the scenes worker. He knew people and used his influence for good. He was given Mary as his adoptive mother and we know he cared for her. He was not shy about sharing his faith which got him put into exile. And he knew the importance of writing down the words of the Gospel so that others might be given an opportunity to hear and believe as well. In other words, he writes for us so that we might be saved. Finally, we know that John knew himself to be a sinner in need of a Savior and that Jesus is that Savior. Even today, although we might think ourselves as good people, certainly we would think of John as a good disciples, yet we too know that we are sinners in need of a Savior and forgiveness. And we too know that Jesus is our Savior who loves us and forgives us so that we have life and salvation. And so we rejoice and say, thanks be to God and to Him be the glory. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.