Matthew 10:1-4 – These Guys Changed The World? Part 2 (John)

Posted: November 19, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 10:1-4
These Guys Changed The World? Part 2
The Apostle John

At my last post, we introduced the gang that changed the world and then we specifically looked at Peter. John the Apostle is thought to have been a disciple of John the Baptist before meeting Jesus (John 1:35). Although John is not specifically identified as a disciple of John the Baptist, his habit of not naming himself is set in the context of John 1:35-40 when he cites only Andrew. This is seen by many Bible scholars as the first incident of John’s omitting of his own name, which is continued throughout his gospel and is attributed to his humility. Though nothing is specifically said about it, John, with his brother James and friends Peter and Andrew, had traveled from Bethsaida to the Jordan, a distance of some 75 miles (John 1:44). This indicated the interest all of them had in the messianic kingdom that John the Baptist’s ministry represented.

John the Apostle was the Lord’s half-cousin, his mother Salome being Mary’s sister (compare Matthew 27:56, Mark 16:1, and John 19:25). He was one of two disciples with John the Baptist when he proclaimed Jesus as God’s Lamb. He and Andrew became the Master’s original disciples (John 1:35-39).

John the Apostle was a faithful disciple of Jesus during His early Judean ministry (John 2:1-4:54). He and the others then returned home, and to their fishing business, where they worked as partners with John’s father Zebedee until Jesus came and called them to permanent discipleship (Mark 1:19-20, Luke 5:7, 10).

John the Apostle was a subordinate disciple during Christ’s ministry. This may have had to do with his age. Since it is believed that he wrote Revelation in the late 90’s possibly some 50 years after Jesus’s death, he quite possibly could have been a teenager during Jesus’ ministry on earth. He was likely the last surviving apostle (Revelation 1:9-10). Reflecting his secondary position as a disciple, John is mentioned after his brother James in each disciple listing (Mark 3:13-16). Matthew 10:2 and Luke 6:14 list Andrew before John. Knowing the brothers’ dispositions, Jesus nicknamed both “Boanerges” which is translated into English as “The Sons of Thunder” revealed ambitious, (Mark 10:35-37), and intolerant natures (Luke 9:51-54). Jesus may have used this as a comical reference to them after the incident in Luke 9:54, where John and James asked Jesus rained down fire from heaven on those who rejected Jesus. It may have been one of those nicknames that you gain when you make a bonehead move and your friends call you a nickname commemorating the bonehead move for years to come. Jesus did have a sense of humor you know.

John the Apostle was a classical servant of Christ. Despite his obvious human failings and sins, John enjoyed an affinity of kindred minds with Jesus that led to him being called “the beloved disciple” by others in the group (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2). He felt so comfortable with Jesus that he put his head on the Master’s chest to inquire about the betrayer (John 13:25). This may have something to do with John most likely being a teenager when he was a part of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Jesus was not only training him up to be a disciple but he was most likely something of a father figure to John as well. While the others may have been fully grown men, John was most likely just coming of age and needed the tutoring on life that Jesus gave him. The others would quite possibly have seen that and called him the disciple that Jesus loved…like a son.

John the Apostle was a disciple who obviously developed spiritual understanding during Christ’s ministry. This is seen in two ways: first, he braved danger by entering the High Priest’s residence during Christ’s trial (John 18:15). His ability to enter the house, then to bring Peter in, means that John’s family had access to the High Priest. With this easy access, his family must have been well-known in the Temple. The family were fishermen by trade. But this access to the Temple in Jerusalem must mean that the family did rather well at it and could afford to travel to the Temple frequently. Thus, it is highly likely that John was, maybe not formally educated to be a priest, but had studied and understood the Old Testament better than most. Second, when he joined Peter in the tomb, John saw the meaning of the careful arrangement of grave clothes, and immediately believed in Christ’s resurrection (John 20:8-9). This spiritual insight may account for John’s listing as second only to Peter when the apostles gathered in the Upper Room after Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:13).

John the Apostle was a great apostolic leader in Acts. He helped preach the Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:7-8), accompanied Peter when they healed the lame man (Acts 3:1-10), was jailed with Peter (Acts 4:1-3), was with Peter when they reported to their brothers (Acts 4:23), and Peter and John were sent by the other apostles to investigate the Samaritan revival (Acts 8:14). This key verse reflects the equilibrium in apostolic leadership. Peter and John were sent, meaning the other apostles trusted them. Peter and John were sent by the others, meaning they went as emissaries of, and with the authority of, the whole.

John the Apostle was a brilliant author of christological teaching. John isn’t mentioned by name in Acts after the visit to Samaria (Acts 8:17), but he continued to exercise significant church leadership. Paul called him a pillar of the church (Galatians 2:9). His most lasting contribution to God’s work came in the five books that bear his name, including the magnificent Gospel of John and the book of Revelation, not only a literary masterpiece but as the centerpiece of Christian theology concerning Christ’s return and his restoring of His Father’s kingdom on earth.

What do we learn from the Apostle John that we can take away and use today in the 21st century? There are two things I think that we can use. The first and most obvious thing is, if you subscribe to the theory that John was a teenager while Jesus was leading his earthly ministry (which I do based on the timing of when he wrote Revelation), that it does not matter how old you are that you can be of great service to Jesus (either if you are very young or very old). The second thing is you can have such a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus that he entrusts you with significant tasks.

The thing to me that is most striking is that John was noted often as the disciple that Jesus loved. It was an odd reference to me anytime I read it until I did a little logical thinking about it and a little research. To me, I always wondered, well didn’t Jesus love the other disciples too? Sure, he did, so why was John singled out in this way. It just makes sense to me that John was a teenage disciple at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is commonly accepted among the most critical of biblical scholars that Revelation was written no earlier than 90AD and no later than 100AD. So, it’s simple math. If it is also commonly accepted that Jesus was crucified somewhere between 26AD-30AD, and John was there to see it, then he must have been pretty young to have lived all the way to 90AD-100AD. He had to have been a young guy when Jesus roamed the earth. This speaks volumes to me in this fact alone, both for the very young and the very old. So often, we write teenagers off as being impetuous and not being deep spiritually. However, there is no law that says that a teenager cannot have a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ that produces wisdom, leadership, and passion for Jesus. A teenager that is sold out for Jesus can bring life and vigor to a band of believers that is well-needed. A teenager sold out to Christ can bring a newness of life to us believers. A teenager sold out to Christ can bring the fun back to being a Christian. I can just imagine John being a teenager pulling pranks on the other disciples like teenagers often do. I can imagine Jesus rolling in laughter at another John prank. I can also see the disciples taking loving advantage of his lack of experience much to the laughter of all including Jesus. I can also see John blowing the other guys away with some profound question about something they had just grown to take for granted. Jesus did not see John’s age as a barrier to being part of the group that he was disciple into world-changers. Jesus saw the heart of the man. He saw the heart of this young man. He saw the heart of this teenager. He took this young man under his wing because he saw the talents of this young man. He saw and developed him at close range. It was, I bet, from those late night sitting by the campfire one on one conversations when Jesus was tutoring this young man into adulthood that the seeds of the Gospel of John and other books of the New Testament were planted. At the same token, Jesus seeing no barrier, in John’s youth, Jesus can also see no barrier in your age now for service to Him. Here, I am at age 53, in transition from secular employment to full-time ministry. I sometimes think, hey, Mark, it’s too late for you to go into the ministry. This relationship that Jesus had with John shows me that age whether young or old is no barrier for Jesus to call us into His service. From Jesus’ choosing of teenage John, we can see that age (too young or too old) can never be an excuse for not following God’s call on our lives. Do not listen to Satan tell you that it is. Jesus calls us to ministry when He thinks we are ready. He calls us to ministry when it makes us so uncomfortable that we cannot do anything else. Age is not a factor. Moses was an old man by the time he began leading his people out of Egypt. Neither too young or too old. If you have been pondering if you are too young or too old to serve Jesus in a more comprehensive way, believe Jesus not Satan. If Jesus has put it on your heart that it is time. It is time! No matter what time it is!

The second thing that you notice about John, I wander to the cross on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. John, the only one of the disciples at Golgotha. He is there with Jesus’ mother, Mary. He was there with Jesus to the bitter end. No matter what. He was faithful to the bitter end. He must have loved Jesus with every ounce of who he was. The older disciples scattered. But here was this young guy there to the bitter and ugly and painful end. From the cross, we hear Jesus entrust his own mother to this young man. We may not think of this as big deal in our world of self-sufficiency and splintered families today. But this WAS a big deal. Jesus as the oldest son of his mother, according to Jewish custom, was responsible for the welfare of his mother (since it is evident of the lack of references to Jesus’ earthly dad during his earthly ministry, it is commonly assumed that Joseph was dead). In the absence of her husband, it fell to Jesus as the oldest male son to take care of his mother since women had little rights to property and even fewer options for a livelihood. As the oldest son, it was his responsibility to ensure her well-being after Joseph’s death. Now, on the cross, he entrusts his mother’s care not to the next eldest son (which we assume to be James) but to teenage John. Woman behold your son. Son behold your mother. Jesus was telling his mother that John was so important to Him that she should from this point forward treat him like her own son. More powerful though was the command to John to behold his mother. He was telling John that he should treat Mary as he would treat his own mother. Take care of her. Make sure she has what she needs. Make sure she is secure. Jesus was passing his duty as the eldest son to John. Wow, what John must have felt at this. He was so close over these past few years with Jesus that Jesus trusted him with the care and responsibility of His own mother. What an honor! We gloss over this command sometimes in reading the crucifixion account but it is an oh so huge statement. It is not just filler dialogue. It is important. It shows how close John and Jesus were. Like I said before, Jesus was most likely almost an earthly father figure to John. Take care of Jesus’ mom! It is a high honor that is being bestowed upon John by his dear friend, Jesus. It reminds us that when we are close with Jesus and we abide in Him, He will trust us with much. When we sit at His feet by the campfire and hang on His every word, when we are passionate about who He is, when we abide in Him, when we lay our head on His chest, He will trust us with much. Jesus will honor those who honor Him. Let us never forget that much is given by Jesus to those who abide in Him. Stay clean and close to Jesus and He will honor that!

Father help us to learn that it is never too late to serve you. No matter the stage in life we find ourselves it is never too late. As long as we are faithful and abide in Him, He will lead us. He will take care of us. When we abide in Him, He will trust us with much and when we abide in Him, He will honor us with much trust. Let us be people who trust in You so deeply, Lord, that we know that you will take care of us if we step out into ministry. Lord, let us be a people who hang on your every word and follow wherever you lead. It’s never too late. We are never too young or too old to serve. We trust that you will honor our love for you that is expressed in our trust in you when we step out into service of expanding your kingdom. Let us be not like Mike but like John. Amen and Amen.

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