The disciples were an interesting lot, a rag-tag group of fishermen, tax collectors and who knows what else. Through the pages of the Bible, we read of some really idiotic things some of the disciples said and did. But if we look closely, we can see how well we actually relate to those disciples. How many times have we doubted like Thomas or spoke out of turn like Peter or even betrayed a friend like Judas? Yes, we have more in common with the disciples than we often care to admit. Hopefully, though, we share some of their good qualities as well. Today, I would like to look at some of the good qualities of John.
John, the brother of James. John, one of the sons of thunder. John, the one who argued with his brother over who would sit next to God in Heaven. John, the human author of the book of Revelation. Just like us, he had some faults, but if we study his life, we also see compelling traits of a model believer.
1.) He was not afraid to be in the background - It's interesting how John is never really seen as the center of attention. Peter, sure he was often the center of attention. Even Judas got his fair share of attention. But John was content to be in the background. He was happy to serve quietly. He was willing to work for the cause of Christ regardless of whether or not he received any credit. Even in the books he penned, he never refers to himself as "John" but as "the other disciple" or "the disciple whom Jesus loved." John had a way of taking the attention off of himself and placing it on Christ where it belongs.
2.) We often find him close to Christ. John 13:23 speaks of John lying on Jesus' bosom. John 19:26-27 tells us that John was the only disciple to follow Christ all the way to the cross. When the others fled, John felt compelled to stay. He is often one of the three Jesus would ask to accompany him when He left the other disciples. John was there on the Mount of Transfiguration. He was there in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was even there at the empty tomb. It seems that John couldn't get enough of Christ, for he was always around Him.
3.) He didn't have to be told to follow. After Christ's resurrection, He met up with the disciples and had a long heart-to-heart with Peter. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (John 21:19-20) Peter had to be told to follow, and when he went to obey, he realized John was already following. John knew that his proper place was with Jesus, so wherever Jesus went, John followed. Not because he was told to, but because he wanted to.
4.) He learned from his mistakes, as well as those of others. As we already mentioned, John was an observer. Where Peter was outgoing and ready to get the job done no matter the cost, John was more laid back. He preferred to watch the goings on and then decide on a course of action. In other words, he thought before he acted or spoke. And in the three and a half years with Jesus, John had the opportunity to witness a lot of good things and a lot of failures, including his own. Can you imagine how he must have cringed as he wrote down the account of he and James arguing over who would be the greatest in Heaven? John didn't just gather information, but he took the time and effort to learn from it. We know this by his determination to carry on with the mission no matter the cost to him. Even being boiled alive was not enough to stop John from telling the world about Christ.
5.) He was never too busy to encourage other believers. If you look closely through the books written by John, you'll find a common theme--encouragement. John realized that while it is important to reach the lost, it's also important to uplift the saved. The Bible talks about being weary in well doing, and that's exactly what happens to a lot of Christians. John realized this, and God allowed him to write his books in a way that would evangelize and edify at the same time. John was there for Jesus at the cross. He was there for Mary. He was there to offer support and encouragement. No matter what circumstances he found himself in, he seemed to find a way to encourage others.
So, how do we measure up? Are we so involved with our daily living, that we are failing to follow John's example? God forbid.