John was a fisherman who was called by Jesus to follow him; he later became one of the twelve disciples. John the apostle wrote the Gospel of John, First John, Second John and Third John, he was also the penman for the Book of Revelations. Through John’s life and the books he wrote in the Bible much can be learned. Most of the information known about John comes from what is written in the four Gospels.
The apostle John referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. John was born in AD 6 in Galilee and died around AD 101 in Ephesus, Asia Minor. Out of all the disciples the apostle John lived the longest. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome. In John 1:37-39 John and another disciple were with John the Baptist. It was the first time John had met Jesus. The apostle John left John the Baptist and followed Jesus the rest of that day. John and his brother James were called to follow Jesus and be his disciples (around 29 AD) in Matthew 4:21-22 “Going from there, Jesus saw two brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in the boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus” (Lockyer, Herbert 688-689).
John was present when Jesus healed the daughter of Jairus; Mark 5:37 says, “He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.” Close to AD 32, John along with Peter and James witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration. Matthew 17:1-2 says, “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.” Peter, James and John were also with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:36-37 says, “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. It was probably around 33 AD when Jesus asked John to take care of Mary. John 19:26 reads, “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” In Luke 22:8 Jesus sent Peter and John who were entrusted to prepare for the Passover. As seen in these, James, John and Peter were the disciples that Jesus was most intimate with (Lockyer, Herbert 688-689).
After Jesus’ resurrection somewhere between 30-33 AD Peter and John were arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. In Acts chapter 4 we see that the Sadducees were disturbed because Peter and John were proclaiming Jesus’ death and resurrection. Five-thousand people became believers as a result of this. The rulers and people in authority were amazed because Peter and John were uneducated men. In the book of Acts 8:14-25 we see that Peter and John were sent to Samaria. They were sent to see if the conversions that were happening were authentic. Because John had once supported the destruction of the Samaritan villages, it is said that the apostle John had a change of heart. Sometime between 42-44 AD, John’s brother James was killed by Herod Agrippa; we see evidence of this in Acts 12:1-2. After the death of James, John is not mentioned again in the book of Acts (The Apostle John And His Writings – The Life of the Apostle John).
In the book of Galatians 2:9 it says, “James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the uncircumcised.” We see in this verse that John is still a significant leader in the early church. It is said that John ended up in Rome where he was thrown into a boiling pot of oil. Others think that James and John were martyred, but the most common belief is that John moved to Ephesus in Asia Minor, was banished to the Island of Patmos and later went back to Ephesus and died there (John: An Apostle of Godly Love).
Christians can learn a lot from the life of John the apostle. As mentioned before, the apostle John was a fisherman. The rulers and people in authority noticed that he was “uneducated” probably meaning they had no theological training. Jesus chose John the fisherman who had no rabbinic schooling. This shows that no matter where someone comes from, where they go to school, whom their parents are or are not. God has a purpose for everyone and can use anyone. In Mark 3:17 Jesus gave John the nickname Son of Thunder. The nickname was said to have been given to him because John had anger issues. In Luke 9:52-56 Jesus rebuked the apostle John because he wanted to call down fire on a Samaritan village. Listening to what Jesus taught as well as time spent alongside him had a positive effect on the apostle and seemed to have changed his heart. John grew into a man of God who was a good example of someone who showed God’s love. From all this we learn that God has the power to transform us no matter what our flaws may be (John the Apostle).
There are even more lessons to be learned from John having to do with character. John’s life shows humility. Throughout the Bible when John was writing about himself he always wrote in such a way that seemed as if someone else was writing about him. In the book of John he wrote of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” As mentioned earlier Jesus asked John to care for his mother. This demonstrates how precious it is to have a trusting relationship with people. John being asked to care for Mary was an honor. When Jesus was being crucified John demonstrated loyalty and proved to be fearless while other disciples were nowhere to be found. John was one of the disciples with whom Jesus was most intimate. John chapter 13 shows how close John really was to Jesus when it says that John was leaning on Jesus’ chest. I used to isolate myself a lot in the past and would never let anyone get close to me. I’m learning be comfortable with people and Jesus and John’s relationship is a good example of a loving relationship (An Apostle Named John)
While researching for this biography a few things stuck out to me, I could say I was impacted by the apostle John’s life for several reasons. John the apostle was an intimate friend of Jesus. I admire his close relationship with Jesus and John’s life inspired me to pursue a closer relationship with my Savior. John’s humility changed my view of the way a person is supposed to talk about oneself. In the book of John, The apostle refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”. He didn’t look for credit for being with Jesus and the time and writing the book. I tend to think of myself more highly than I ought to at times and should be more humble in this area.
Another way in which the life of John impacted my life is I believe John is a good example of someone who modeled what he wrote in 1 John 4:18, “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” John stayed by Jesus’ side while he was being put to death on the cross. All the other disciples cowered away for fear of being harmed. John stuck by Jesus through the hardest time in Jesus’ life with no fear of the punishment that might have come to him. I really admire that in John’s character and want to be able to give my life to Jesus without fear of what someone might think. I will mention one last way the life of the apostle John impacted me. Jesus called the apostle John “son of thunder”. Jesus knew about John’s temper and all the other flaws he might have had, but it did not stop Jesus from using him. John changed through time because of Jesus, what he did for us and what he thought. Jesus did not need John but John needed Jesus and showed him his devotion of sticking by his side even when to do so was dangerous. This can speak to anyone’s life. Jesus will transform your life if you surrender yours to him.
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