Being loved is the most powerful motivation in the world! Our ability to love is often shaped by our experience of love. We usually love others as we have been loved.
Some of the greatest statements about God’s loving nature were written by a man who experienced God’s love in a unique way. John, Jesus’ disciple, expressed his relationship to the Son of God by calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20). Although Jesus’ love is clearly communicated in all the Gospels, in John’s Gospel it is a central theme. Because his own experience of Jesus’ love was so strong and personal, John was sensitive to those words and actions of Jesus that illustrated how the One who is love loved others.
Jesus knew John fully and loved him fully. He gave John and his brother James the nickname “Sons of Thunder”, perhaps from an occasion when the brothers asked Jesus for permission to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:54) on a village that had refused to welcome Jesus and the disciples. In John’s Gospel and letters, we see the great God of love, while the thunder of God’s justice bursts from the pages of Revelation.
Jesus confronts each of us as he confronted John. We cannot know the depth of Jesus’ love unless we are willing to face the fact that he knows us completely. Otherwise we are fooled into believing he must love the people we pretend to be, not the sinners we actually are. John and all the disciples convince us that God is able and willing to accept us as we are. Being aware of God’s love is a great motivator for change. His love is given in exchange for our efforts; his love frees us to really live. Have you accepted that love?
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Before following Jesus, one of John the Baptist’s disciples
- One of the 12 disciples and, with Peter and James, one of the inner three, closest to Jesus
- Wrote five New Testament books: the Gospel of John; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Revelation
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Along with James, shared a tendency to outbursts of selfishness and anger
- Asked for a special position in Jesus’ kingdom
Lessons from his life:
- Those who realise how much they are loved are loved to love much
- When God changes a life, he does not take away personality characteristics, but puts them to effective use in his service
- Occupations: Fisherman, disciple
- Relatives: Father: Zebedee. Mother: Salome. Brother: James
- Contemporaries: Jesus, Pilate, Herod
Key verses: “Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (1 John 2:7, 8).
John’s story is told throughout the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation.