My dear Covenant Partners and GEM Family
Jesus called James and John while they were mending their nets. Immediately, they left their father Zebedee and followed Jesus. Jesus saw it fit never to separate John from his brother James, and Peter. He brought them into His inner circle within His community of disciples. Jesus took James and John when he went with Peter and Andrew to heal Peter’s mother-in-law who lay ill with a fever. Again, Jesus took Peter, James and John when He entered the house of Jairus to raise his daughter from the dead (Mark 5: 37). For His transfiguration, Jesus led Peter, James and John up a high mountain. The disciples were awestruck at the transfigured Jesus seen with Moses and Elijah. In their overwhelming amazement they heard the voice of the Father. During His agony, Jesus took Peter, James and John to watch with Him in prayer. Three times He found them asleep. These special times with Jesus made them “eyewitnesses of his sovereign majesty” (2Peter 1: 16).
Fishing was a labor-intensive and back-breaking industry, producing men who were rough around the edges and very loyal to one another. Arrogance could easily take root in them. In Mark 10, Jesus predicts His passion, death, and resurrection for the third time. James and John seem oblivious of the gravity of the message and moment. Their self-aggrandizement takes precedence over the humility and self-emptying of Jesus. They interject an outrageous request that creates intense resentment toward them from the others. They ask to be seated at the right and left of Jesus when He enters into His glory. Similarly, Luke 9: 52-56 portrays James and John as fiery and vengeful. On their way to Jerusalem, Jesus and His disciples entered a Samaritan town that would not welcome them. James and John reacted vehemently and asked Jesus to rain down fire upon that town. Not surprisingly, Jesus named them Boanerges, or ‘Sons of Thunder.’ (Mark 3: 17).
Jesus loved John and taught him in the school of grace. From his writings, we can gauge his amazing transformation through the Holy Spirit, from being a ‘Son of Thunder,’ to becoming what his name signified: ‘The Lord is gracious’ or ‘The Lord has shown grace.’ His eyes and heart were opened to the greatness of God’s grace and love as these were so uniquely brought to light in the Son of God’s love: “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14).
John described himself five times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” or as in John 20: 2, “the one Jesus loved.” The Beloved Disciple reclined close to Jesus at the Last Supper. Just before He died, Jesus tells His mother, “Woman, behold your son,” and John, “Behold, your mother.” When Mary Magdalene informed the disciples of the empty tomb, Peter and the Beloved Disciple rushed to the tomb, and John “saw and believed” (John 20: 8). John 21: 24 claims that the Gospel of John is based on the written testimony of the “beloved disciple.” The Greek word ‘agapao’ is used by John to indicate divine love which originates in God Himself rather than in something attractive in us. Jesus loved John because of who Jesus was: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1John 4: 10). In the same way, like John, every one of us is Jesus’ beloved disciple. We have been called by Jesus to be part of His inner circle as well. God bless you! You are in our daily prayers!