The goal of this series is to study the group of 12 young men who spent approximately 3 years with Jesus, from the time of his baptism until his resurrection. We’ll look at their character, their transformation, and their relationship with Jesus and learn from their lives.
You can read the full preface to this series to see how I have defined discipleship and see a timeline of how the disciples met Jesus and followed him.
John: The Beloved – The David of the New Testament
John had the distinction of being a beloved friend of Jesus Christ, gaining a reputation similar to that of King David from the Old Testament.
John and his brother James were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee when Jesus called them to follow Him. They later became part of Christ’s inner circle, along with Peter. These three were privileged to be with Jesus at the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead, at the transfiguration, and during Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.
John served the church in Jerusalem for many years, then moved to work in the church at Ephesus.
John’s Journey: from a son of thunder in the flesh to a son of Thunder in the spirit
Jesus calls John a son of thunder and transformed this from a negative to a positive.
I think we usually see John as this kind of soft guy who quietly hung out with Jesus.
John was a lively, strong young man who was part of a fisherman partnership and had a reputation of being a bit hotheaded.
There might have even been a rivalry between Peter and John! Check out John 20:3-4 (John makes sure we see that he outruns Peter) and Mark 10:35-45 (Peter makes sure we are aware that John and James had the audacity to ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand)!
In his youth, John was preoccupied with having preeminence over others. On the road to Capernaum, the disciples argued about who was the greatest (Luke 9:46).
Soon after Capernaum, on the way to Jerusalem, John asked about being the greatest (Mark 9:33-34).
A few weeks later, John’s mother brought up the issue of them being the greatest again (Matthew 20:20-21).
John sought to stop a man from helping others because that man was not under John’s authority (Luke 9:49-55).
John wanted to call fire down on a city that did not receive Jesus’ ministry. A few years later, John prayed to release the fire of Holy Spirit on Samaria (Acts 8:14-15).
But, Jesus met him where he was and began to redeem John’s character to become a powerful example of God’s love.
“We embrace a right mindset in becoming a “son of thunder in the Spirit” by setting our vision to go deep in God and making Jesus our primary reward, the primary dream of our life.” – Mike Bickle
3 Important Lessons from John
1. John saw himself as one whom Jesus loved
I think we can say that John got it.
Maybe not immediately, but he got it.
He understood God’s radical love for us! God loves us in the way that God loves God.
Jesus feels the same intensity of love for us that the Father feels
for Him (John 15:9).
This truth gives us the right to stand before God with confidence as one of “His favorites.” He understood it so much so that it affected the way he referred to himself and others. He became the beloved and he addressed others as beloved.
Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following… (John 21:20)
John took hold of what Jesus said in John 15:9 and held on to it for the rest of his life. It was foundational to his identity.
When we know the King loves us, we are unmoved, even when others overlook us.
2. John leaned on Jesus’ heart
John leaned on Jesus’ heart (John 21:20) —he set his heart to love Jesus and to be as near to Him as possible. This was John’s primary life goal, his primary dream. It was his greatest prayer and desire.
John had a masculine personality (you don’t get called a son of thunder by being feminine!), but he was not ashamed to be known as one who loved Jesus.
John had boldness in Jesus’ love, without any shame.
3. John positioned Himself to receive God’s secrets
Having Jesus as our great reward involves gaining insight into what is near and dear to His heart.
How do we practically receive Jesus’ secrets?
In 2 ways.
1. The Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit reveal to us the truth (John 16:13).
2. It is done by sitting at His feet to hear His Word as Mary of Bethany did (Luke 10:39-42). One way we do this is by prayerful meditation on the Word. Jesus defined this as good. No one can choose to do this for us. We must choose to do this over and over.
Mary of Bethany had no public teaching ministry. She sat at Jesus’ feet to understand His heart. Determining what it means to spend long hours with God is different for each person.
God gives His secrets to those who desire them enough to sit before Him. John sat before God long hours as David did (Psalm 27:4).
The book of Revelation was one of the secrets given to John.
Live it Out!
We are those who are loved by Jesus, who lean on His heart in our love for Him, and who seek to know His secrets.
John got it and so must we!
Preview of the Next Disciple:
I hope this has opened your eyes to the fact that John was a real man. He wasn’t just a character on a few pages of the Bible. He was real and there’s so much we can learn from him.
Next, we will look at James, the brother of John. What do we know about James and what lessons can we learn from his life? You can find out this and much more in the next post.
Wait! Don’t Leave Without Saying Hi!
Thanks for taking the time to read. Below is a place for you to say hi, what you thought about the post, and ask any questions you may have. And yes, I’ll respond! In fact, I’m looking forward to interacting with you! So what are you waiting for? Leave a comment below!
*For related reading about the disciples/apostles of Jesus, please visit my friend’s page here.
Check Out the Rest of the Series
Also published on Medium.