the Apostle John, also known as John the Revelator, lived before discipleship as a fisherman. John and his brother, James, were headed by their father Zebedee in the family business. having been in the Navy, i can attest to some of the personalities you will find upon the seas. the customs of the times were different, their body of water was less significant, and commercial fishing has come a long way since then. i want to explore what made John such an excellent Apostle and leader of the early church.
John worked hard for a living. fishing was a labor-intensive occupation where there was always something to do. boat repairs had to be done, net-mending was a constant chore, and sometimes, your fishing hole would not yield its bounty. being such a hard worker in a rough industry, John noticed when a man emerged from the desert wearing camel hair and eating honey and locusts. he may have assumed it was a tale and had to examine this disturbance for himself. John’s encounter with the prophet led him to become a disciple of the baptizer.
when Jesus came to be baptized, and He was proclaimed “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29, KJV, Tyndale 1987) John immediately followed Jesus, recognizing Him as the promised Messiah. John tried his best to remain close to the Lord and even had his mother try to convince Jesus to give him a prominent position in the Kingdom. one encounter John, and his brother, asked Jesus if they should rain down fire on the Samaritans, as Elijah called fire from heaven. Jesus replied by giving the sons of Zebedee a nickname, the “Sons of Thunder.”
through the years at Jesus’ side, John witnessed great miracles, but more importantly, he observed Jesus’ reaction to others. John was in the inner circle of Jesus, the three closest disciples to the Lord. he was included at the mount of transfiguration experience as Jesus was transformed gloriously before their eyes. the closer you get to Jesus, the more of an impact on your life; you can’t help but be changed!
when it came time for the crucifixion, John was the only recorded disciple close enough to hear Jesus speak. this brash fisherman, who would have destroyed a people, had been changed to the extent that the Lord left His mother in John’s care. we see others being changed; Peter was told, if you love me, “feed my sheep.” John’s compassion had grown in such a way that Jesus felt comfortable assigning this son to His mother.
John had learned from his experience with the Master. his heart had softened, and his gospel rang out of the divinity of Christ Jesus. John was now the “beloved.” the Book of John mentions “truth” 45 times, but he declares “love” over 80 times. could it be that John balanced his life on the Christian scales with love nearly 2 to 1 over truth? i can see it in his character as almost as many times as love, John writes the word “witness.” tell the world about Jesus and the great things to come! after all, who would know better than John the Revelator?