< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: John, the Disciple that Jesus Loved

Friday, December 05, 2008

John, the Disciple that Jesus Loved

What do we know about John? That he was a disciple, a fisherman, that he had an older brother James, a father Zebedee, a mother Salome. That his family must have been somewhat affluent because Zebedee had hired men. Later he had a house of his own because he took Mary to live with him after Jesus died. He wrote the book of John, 1 John, 2nd John, 3rd John and Revelation. He was exiled to the island of Patmos. And he pastured the church of Ephesus for a number of years.

Well, besides all of that, he called himself the disciple that Jesus loved. Although Jesus’ love was expressed clearly in all the Gospels, it was in the Gospel of John that it was a central theme. Because he felt Christ’s love so strongly, John was able to look at others with love.

John shows in his writing that we can’t know the depth of Jesus’ love for us until we realize He knows us fully…and He loves us unconditionally in spite of the things we think and do.

In spite of his sensitive nature, Jesus called John and his brother James, “sons of thunder” when they asked Jesus for permission in Luke 9:54 to call fire down from heaven on the village which refused to welcome Jesus and the disciples.

Before he was a disciple of Jesus, John was a disciple of John the Baptist. When he was with Jesus he was one of the “inner 3” along with Peter and James. He was the only disciple to live to old age. The others were all martyred. They died horrible deaths.

John walked and talked with Jesus. He watched Him heal, he watched Him teach, he watched Him die, he watched Him arisen and he saw Him ascend. He was an eyewitness.

The book of John is usually the first book recommended to new believers to read. John, more then any other book of the Bible shows Jesus’ innermost thoughts and emotions. John wrote his book last of the 4 Gospels – he had more time to really think about what happened. To reflect on all that it meant.

Today’s story (which in the Gospel of John is only 7 verses long) is about Jesus walking on water and calming the storm. And it’s in 3 of the Gospels, so it’s an important story. It comes right after the feeding of the 5000, which is in all 4 Gospels. These 2 miracles are nature miracles. People were given more miracles back then to show that Jesus was God’s Son. He only had 3 years for His mission. He had to grab people’s attention. Plus they didn’t have CNN or in-depth interviews like we do today. Nature miracles reveal the character of God. Nobody could do either of these, but God Himself. You might be able to explain away healing, but it’s impossible for anyone else to calm a storm or feed 5000 from the little He started with.

This story is a little different in each Gospel, because again, it’s an eyewitness account and people notice and remember different things.

Let’s read all 3:

John 6:15-22 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. 19When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, "It is I; don't be afraid" Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the opposite shore of the lake realized that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not entered it with his disciples, but that they had gone away alone.

Mark 6:47-52 When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid" Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

Matthew 14:24-33 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," He said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Matthew mentions Peter walking out to Christ. John doesn’t at all. There’s a whole lesson just in Peter’s part of the story - how he took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink, but he still had a flicker of faith and called out to the Lord to save him and He did. But, we are only going to talk about the John story.

We’ll do that in the next post.

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At 5:32 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Was hoping you would go further with your thoughts here.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

Hi Dave,

In what area? If you type John or Gospel of John in the search box at the top, I do cover more about both John and the book of John.


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