Influence: How Jesus Changed the Apostle John's Life
By John Braland
President, IMF Board of Directors
For just a minute I want you to think of someone you know who is solid. Someone from the time you met them until today they are just solid.
The Apostle John was a solid guy. John came from a good family. He was the son of Zebedee who owned a fishing business. John’s family were active Jews and John’s father was friends with the high priest. His mother Salome was Mary (the Mother of Jesus) sister. John’s family had money, so he had a taste of affluence, but when Jesus said to them come and follow me and I will make you fishers of men, John, James, Peter, and Andrew all left the fishing business becoming full time disciples.
So what lessons can we learn for the life of John that apply to use here and now? John knew the depth of Jesus love for him. In the Book of John, he refers to himself five times as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ John got it that God loved him. It so fired him up that he was fearless entering the courts of Caiaphas during Jesus’s trail and spoke without fear to everyone, including the Sanhedrin. This is recorded in Acts 3:1-4, 4:1-31.
In the same way, you are loved by Jesus. He has chosen you. You are his. He wants to walk with you and talk with you and hold you and encourage you. He wants to celebrate with you. God is not some distance unknowable force. He is personable, and we can see this in Jesus.
John was also loyal to Jesus. John was the only one of the 12 apostles present at the cross. After Pentecost, John teamed up with Peter to fearlessly preach the gospel in Jerusalem and suffered beatings and imprisonment for it. John underwent a remarkable transformation as a disciple, from the quick-tempered Son of Thunder to the compassionate apostle of love.
When you are loyal to Jesus it reveals your new life in Christ. When you are loyal to Christ, it translates into living a different kind of life. A life with hope. A life with joy. A life where forgiveness is given and received.
When I was in Washington, DC at the chaplain’s conference. I had the chance to meet several congress people and talk to other legislators. While I was there, a friend from the military reached out to me on social media and we set up dinner. Dave was the guy that took me under his wing the first night we got shot at by insurgents. He was the guy that recommended me for the job I took as an undercover narcotics agent with the Office of Special Investigation. Dave was my supervisor and my friend. And after laughing with him at all the stupid things we did 25 years ago, Dave reminded me that I am not who I was, I am a new creation in Christ.
John loved people because of Jesus. Because John experienced the unconditional love of Jesus firsthand and grew in it, he preached that love in his gospel. On one occasion John was flogged by the religious leaders, but John didn’t hate those who abused him. Instead he chose to glorify God through the pain. He didn’t lose his faith because things didn’t go right, he stayed strong in his faith because he knew Jesus loved him and he was committed to being loyal to him.
When you love people like Jesus, it makes a difference.
“34A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-36
I want to love others like Jesus influencing them to know God’s love and share God’s love. I want to be loyal to God because he so loves me. I challenge you to do the same. Love God, love people.