Monday, September 14, 2009

Called to Follow - John the brother of James

John the brother of James. Sounds so familiar to me.... As I said in the last posting about James, I was often spoken of in the same way. For many years I was Sherri, the little sister of Tammy. I hated to be called that.

Looking back now, I believe I was upset that my identity was so closely tied to someone else. I was nothing like my sister, although we had similar facial features. Because she had gone through the school two years before me, people thought I would be the same as my sister. It was as if I had no identity of my own.

What they did not realize is that I was a very different person with my own talents and abilities. I was not just Tammy's little sister, I was Sherri. A person created by God with her own purposes. I believe the same could be said about John. Although we see him referred to as the brother of James, he was his own person. John had his own individual reasons that Jesus called him to be a disciple and we will see that unfold for us.

John was called to follow Jesus at the same time as his brother was and shortly after named along with James "sons of thunder." Both of the brothers were zealous, ambitious and overconfident but John had some individual characteristics we need to look at.

John was bold and impulsive but he was also very emotional. His emotions would often erupt in his conversations with Jesus. We see in Mark 9:38 a very emotional reaction as John tells Jesus they forbade a man from casting out demons because he was not a follower of theirs. Jesus tells John not to forbid him because anyone that works miracles in His name would not speak evil of Him after doing that.

In Mark 10:35-41 John, along with James ask for a favor from Jesus. They ask to sit on the left and right sides of Jesus in His glory. How ambitious! Jesus asks if they can drink the cup he drinks and their answer is yes. Talk about overconfidence.

Our young John at the time called by Jesus was indeed bold and confident. Maybe even a little too confident. But his boldness and confidence would serve him well a little later in his journey.

At the time of Jesus death, John was the only disciple who dared to stand at the foot of the cross. (John 19:26-27) He gave not concern to the consequences that he might face and instead stayed as the ugly scene of Jesus' crucifixion played itself out.

Then Jesus speaks his last instruction to John. As Jesus is hanging there, with little life left and not much breathe, He commits his mother into John's care. From that hour, John took Mary the mother of Jesus as his own mother to care for.

What sadness and doom he must have felt as he watched his master die. Then to have insulted added to injury just a few days after when Mary Magdalene comes to say the tomb is empty. The horror! The tomb empty, now His body taken?

In John 20:1-10, we see as John outruns Simon Peter to look for himself. Stooping down to peer into the grave, he finds Mary’s words to be true. All that remained in the tomb was the linen cloth used to dress him. Since the disciples did not know the scripture that the Messiah would rise again, they left and went back to their homes. The walk back would not be like the run there. Instead it would be a slow pace with feet made of lead. A final blow. The Messiah gone.

Thankfully this was not the last encounter we see John have with Jesus. In John 20:19-21, we see this. That very evening, the same one where John finds the tomb empty, John is assembled with the other disciples behind closed doors. As the meeting goes on, Jesus comes and stands in the midst and says "Peace be with you." He shows them His hands and His side and sends them out to do as He had done, share the good news.

What rejoicing must have taken place behind those closed doors! Did they sleep after that? I sure wouldn't. I can imagine that John was riding three feet off the ground, not to touch down for some time to come. Who would even try to put their head on a pillow after seeing the risen Lord right before your eyes? Who needs sleep, Jesus is alive!!

I often think about what it will be like when I see Jesus in person. What will I feel? Will I laugh, cry, weep uncontrollably or just be speechless? Maybe I will be able to do nothing but fall to my face and worship. But until this very moment, I have not thought about meeting the risen Lord like the disciples did. What an amazing moment that must have been. I would have loved to of been there.

John, the bold, ambitious and overconfident young man was also one who was transformed by Jesus Christ. Given the power of the Holy Spirit, he became a force used by God to preach the good news.

He was to become known as the Apostle of love. Besides teaching of Jesus death and resurrection, John taught of the character of God. Penning the three letters of John, he taught that God is love, showed us to walk in the light and that there is no life with out God.

In his final years, John left us with two jewels. Recording the life of the one he loved so dearly, John wrote for us the Gospel according to John. Then while exiled on the island of Patmos before his death, John penned the book of Revelation. Known to be the only book telling us the end of the story. This book brings a great hope to all believers. It gives us an eternal hope, just as it must have given John.


Carol said...

Good post and what a pretty blog! :)

I've often thought of how I would react when I see Jesus and I just cannot imagine it. Specifically I think of the verse that says 'every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord'... Whether they bow willingly or not, everyone will acknowledge that He is Lord. That will be an awesome day!!!


Sherri Watt said...

Thanks Carol! I cant wait to see him either!