I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week digging into the apostle John and all the books of the bible he wrote. It feels important to me to study up on these writers before I write about the books of the bible they author. With John, that meant digging beyond his own books and into other books like Acts as he played a huge role in the early church.
For music this time I’m trying something different. Someone told me the worship music with lyrics distracted them while reading, so here’s a beautiful instrumental worship song that I listened to while writing. CLICK HERE to listen while you read.
Like Peter, John was a fishermen. He and his brother were called to be disciples of Jesus, and John was one of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples. Jesus even gave John and his brother James a nickname, calling them the sons of thunder, which is completely awesome. The bible describes John as being a simple man, common and uneducated. It’s another example of God taking the least of us and building us up into mighty instruments for his kingdom. I love how many times God does this in the bible because it makes it so easy to point to these examples and tell people that they’re enough for God. There’s a great saying that I love that goes like this; God doesn’t want you perfect, he just wants you. God didn’t need John to be a brilliant doctor, he didn’t need John to be the mightiest warrior, he just needed him. John found, like I know people are still finding today, that if you just trust Him and are obedient to Him and follow Him, He’ll build you up into something you never dreamed you could become.
John was definitely bold, and at one particular time he also was maybe a little too ambitious. He and his brother James talked to Jesus and tried to secure for themselves some high placements in the kingdom of God. As Jesus often did, he turned the misguided request into a beautiful teaching moment about how humbly serving others is the true expression of leadership in the kingdom.
Unlike the other eleven disciples of Jesus who all were martyred, John actually lived a long life. This was something Jesus hinted at after his resurrection. John eventually received a revelation from God while in exile on the isle of Patmos. This is where the Lord revealed to him the end times that John recorded in the bible’s final book, Revelation. John also wrote the Gospel of John, which is his account of his time with and the ministry of Jesus, and 1, 2, and 3 John.
I wanna first look at some of the things from the Gospel of John that jumped out at me. While I found a bit of debate on this, most scholars and study guides I trust seem to agree that John wrote this around the year 90 ad. I only recently learned that BC and AD times don’t perfectly match up to the death of Jesus (which is what I previously thought). AD time started at the birth of Jesus. That puts Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven somewhere around 30-33 ad. So John wrote the Gospel of John around 60 years after the ascension of Jesus. This long period of reflection and growth John had gone through contributes to the structure and style of the gospel. It allowed John to not only give a historical account of what Jesus did, but to dig a little deeper into some of the meanings behind it all.
Verses that jumped
As the Lord continues to work on me and do away with old habits, he continues to lead me to passages like these.
John 6:27 “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Here, Jesus is talking and again offers me a reminder about what matters most. God’s done a lot of work on my heart in this area as he’s pulling my eyes off the things of this world and getting my gaze onto the things of God. Because the things of God endure to eternal life. This world is temporary and our time here is limited. But there is work here that endures into eternity, things we can be focused on that will matter beyond our human lifespan. Those are the God things, which are also the good things. Love, and fellowship, and serving others, and helping those in need, and sharing the good news of Jesus.
A short time later in that same chapter Jesus offers up something that just warmed my heart.
John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
It’s that second half of the sentence that just means everything to me. The requirement for salvation is so small, when you really think about it. Come to Jesus, accept the sacrifice he made for us. Come to him, and he will never cast you out. As a flawed, imperfect man, I find this verse so reassuring and beautiful. Jesus doesn’t just save me while I’m behaving perfectly and keeping all of his commandments. Salvation doesn’t end when I have a bad day and sin. If you come to Him, genuinely and truly in your heart and soul, then he will never cast you out. What a beautiful assurance directly from the mouth of Jesus.
I’m trying to keep these blogs shorter as I know that makes them easier to read, so I’m going to stop there for today. There’s plenty more beautiful things that God taught me as I read through the Gospel of John for the first time and I’m excited to share more of those with you tomorrow.
For prayers this time, I’d ask that you please pray for our pastors. I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with a few different pastors this week and God’s really just laid it on my heart to lift these guys up. Modern day pastors are required to be so much more than just teachers of God’s word, they’re doing so many more jobs and tasks that most people don’t even realize they do. So if you would, just pray with me that God brings a special blessing into the life of our pastors and that he’ll give them extra renewal and peace as they do their work. Know that I pray this in agreement with you as your brother in Christ, and know that God loves you deeply and dearly on this day. I love you, too!