JohnThe Gospel of John is as unique as the author himself. While the other three gospel accounts share similarities in their descriptions of Jesus’ earthly ministry, John’s is quite different in both focus and the details of the situations he shares. Scholars have debated as to why this is the case – but one reason may be that John was a different sort of disciple then the others. While Matthew wrote to the Jews and Luke investigated from a scientific/rational perspective, it was John who spoke of love. Known as the “Apostle of Love”, the account of Jesus’ ministry that John left us with is saturated in the love of God. Why is this?

For one, John the disciple clearly loved Jesus in a deeper way then the other disciples. Perhaps you remember that John was the first to follow Jesus (John 1:35-39) and the last to remain at the foot of the cross (John 19:26). According to NT scholar Everett Harrison, “John was more alert than the others to the greatness of Jesus and was conscious of being at the center of an epochal, transforming movement in human history”. John was part of the inner circle (with James and Peter), which afforded him several rare opportunities to witness parts of Jesus so few humans ever have to this day. For example, John was 1 of only 5 who saw Jesus raise Jarius’ daughter (Mark 5); he was 1 of 3 who witnessed the amazing events on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9); and it was John who was of the select few eye witnesses to the wrenching suffering of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14). We can only imagine how these monumental events deeply impacted this young man.

One thing is obvious; the effects of his three years with Jesus dramatically changed his life forever! It was John whom Jesus quietly revealed the identity of the one who would betray Him at the Last Supper (John 13:21-30); it was John who (along with Peter) overcame their fear sufficiently to watch the mock trial of Jesus (yet without denying Him) (John 18:12-16). Furthermore, it was John to whom Jesus entrusted His mother while dying on the cross (John 19:25-27); and it was John who first “saw and believed” in the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:2-10). John held a special place in the heart of Jesus – that would be the foundation of his ministry of love years later.

In his gospel, John would pen many of our favorite and most foundational scripture verses. Verses such as:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

And in another letter of his, John would pen the simple, yet clarifying, statement: “God is love” – 1 John 4:16b

So we can see that John was one deeply in love with His Master. Eventually, during the reign of Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96) John would be banished to the island of Patmos, where he would see the vision of the Book of Revelations. Upon release, John would become the Pastor to the Church of Ephesus – where tradition says that his disciples would carry him as an old man into the worship service of the community of Christians, where he would simply urge them again and again to “love one another”.

So as you read through this beautiful love letter from John, pay attention to the many ways this love of God purposefully points out the great love Jesus displayed. This love forever changed the life of this young Jewish man, and it will forever change yours as well!

 

 

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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