By Jeff Arnette
John is the author of the Gospel according to John and the three epistles bearing his name. As such, he is an important and interesting character to study.
John makes his first appearance in the story of Jesus in Mark 1:18-20 (Matt. 4:21-22). In this encounter, Jesus calls James and John to be disciples after calling Peter and Andrew. It would seem that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were all together on the fishing boat or at the very least, in a nearby boat. Luke 5:10-11 tells us that James and John were partners with Peter in their fishing business and likely close friends or possibly related. Interestingly, James is always named before John which would lead me to believe that John was the younger brother of James (Matt 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; 3:17; Matt 17:1).
He was one of the three disciples that made up the inner circle, the most trusted disciples of Jesus. Peter, James, and John were allowed a behind the scenes look at the ministry of Jesus (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 14:32-33). It was Peter and John that Jesus entrusted with preparing the final Passover meal for Himself and the disciples. They were so close to Jesus that their mother felt comfortable asking Jesus for a special place at His right and left hand for them (Matt. 20:20-24).
James and John were called “Sons of Thunder” by Jesus in Mark 3:17. Which could mean that their father was a thunderous (loud or boisterous) person or most likely, it meant that they were thunderous. Either way, it helps us understand their personalities a little better.
A couple of stories about John give us even more insight into their personalities. In Luke 9:49, John meets some people casting out demons in the name of Jesus and tried to stop them since they were not a part of their group. Jesus has to correct John telling him to not stop them since anyone who is not against them is for them. Another interesting story of John happens in Luke 9:54-55. Here we have an account of Jesus being rejected by a Samaritan town, and James and John want permission to call down fire from heaven to consume them.
John’s close connection to Jesus is evident throughout the gospel accounts. The most pointed are the times when John is simply called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). Perhaps the most important thing to know about John is that he was at the crucifixion and entrusted with the care of Jesus’ mother (John 19:25-27).
After the resurrection of Jesus, there are a couple of interesting interactions between Jesus and Peter and John. It was John and Peter who first recognized Jesus on the shore after His resurrection (John 21:7) and it was John who Peter, in a moment of jealousy and doubt, asked Jesus saying, “Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21).
John was a special and interesting disciple of Jesus. Church tradition tells us that despite his thunderous personality, late in his life John was carried through the streets preaching “My little children, love one another.” In his three epistles, you see that love for the Father and one another emphasized repeatedly. One of the first apostles, he no doubt had a close personal connection to Jesus that each of us should strive to have.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/