A brother. A fisherman. A disciple. A Son of Thunder. Apostle of Love. Look at any of the those titles and one would think that would describe different men. However, each of those descriptions are all about John the disciple, the son of Zebedee, brother of James. John, like his brother was a fisherman in Galilee. As discussed in previous posts, John, his brother and Peter and Andrew became disciples of John the Baptist. John and James were a very bold set of brothers. There was no doubt they were related. From a prominent family, John, like his brother, often thought he deserved special privileges. They were quickly deemed a nickname called the “Sons of Thunder”.
Even with the names listed above, John was a very interesting and important figure in the transformation of history and the founding of the Church. He wrote the Gospel and three epistles named all bearing his name. He was the youngest of the disciples, yet allowed in the inner circle of Jesus with his brother and Peter. Being a fisherman, he was rugged, hard-edged, and tough. He spoke his mind, especially when he thought he deserved special treatment. He had zeal, both a virtue and a weakness. He was every bit intolerant, ambitious, zealous, and explosive as his brother. He wanted to call down the fire from Heaven to burn up the sinner. Everything John wrote was laced with his person…there were zero gray areas. Everything was black & white. He understood the necessity of drawing a clear line.
John was an extremist. There is no doubt about that. He was dangerously extreme which is how he and his brother were nicknamed Sons of Thunder. This extreme nature was both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, which caused imbalance in his life- lack of control. However, he was ironically nicknamed the Apostle of Love. So which is he? Thunderous or loving? Honestly, John was both. He learned to work through his temper, pride, and arrogance. He learned humility, compassion, and love because of Jesus. He learned by watching Jesus closely and seeing how he lived, and ultimately died. To reach his full potential, he needed to learn balance.
People today are too concerned about love and tolerance that they neglect the deep concern for Truth to be found. John learned the need for loving people and accepting them as they were, however he wanted the Truth and light of Jesus to be exposed. The authentic Christlike person knows the truth and speaks it in love…knows the truth in Christ and loves as Christ loves. Truth is never to be abandoned in the name of Love. But love is not to be deposed in the name of Truth. John learned this the hard way. He started off thunderous, insulting, demanding, and arrogant, yet he was humbled by the love Jesus Christ.
He learned suffering, something that many people neglect. He was not martyred. However, he outlived every other disciple and Jesus. He was the only known disciple that watched Jesus be crucified. He saw everything. Wouldn’t that change you? Over the course of years, he had to painfully deal with each death of every disciple. Those men had been in his closest companions, his best friends, and his family.
Wouldn’t seeing Jesus die change you? Wouldn’t living longer than your closest friends and family impact you, knowing they died for a cause? John was undoubtedly forever changed by Jesus Christ as well as the disciples. A man who started off as a simple fisherman, a painfully arrogant man, became the disciple known as the “the one whom Jesus loved”. It was not by mistake, but by three years of close discipleship and a lifetime of character -shaping circumstances.