John was a disciple and apostle of Jesus. Current popular thought portrays him as a mild-mannered, almost feminine looking young man. A recent novel fictionalized him as almost, though not quite, a homosexual. He was the disciple Jesus loved and leaned on Jesus’ breast during the last supper. He was the type of man the postmodern world wants a man to be.
Okay, enough of this pandering nonsense.
What was John like? He was a fisherman, one of Peter’s buddies. Don’t think for one moment Peter would put up with the modern description of John. Peter and his brother, and John and his brother, were all “cut from the same cloth.” They were hard-working, rough around the edges, people nobody in our day or in our country would want to tangle with. Some go to gyms to get exercise. Their very existence was exercise. They could out-row, out-run, out-lift, out-work any muscle-bound gym rat in this country.
John had a temper. He and his brother were called “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17). One time, as Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to be murdered, they passed through a Samaritan village. Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. “And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them” (Luke 9:54-55). They were as tough as anyone living in Galilee or Judah at that time.
John followed Jesus through almost His entire ministry. He was one of the inner-three, the most privileged of disciples. He was the only one who came back and stood before the crucified Jesus, nailed to a cross, with Jesus’ mother, staring at the gut-wrenching spectacle of mangled humanity hanging before him. He was the one who Jesus appointed to care for his mother. He was there when Jesus died. In my opinion, John had a stronger backbone and stomach than any of the other disciples.
John’s Gospel is unique, set apart from the three synoptic Gospels. He was intimately familiar with the life and ministry of Jesus. He gives insight into the gospel of Christ and its impact upon the people who knew and heard Him necessary to fully understand God’s will. John knew, intellectually and intimately, Jesus.
John was the longest living Apostle. He not only wrote the Gospel of John, but the three Epistles of John and the Revelation or Apocalypse of John, the last book in the New Testament.
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.” (Rev. 1:1-2)
He was exiled to the Island of Patmos, probably a political prisoner of Rome, for the remainder of his life. While there, Jesus, whom he had walked with on earth, showed himself to John and told him to deliver a message to the Seven Churches.
John saw God in his vision. Remember Job? He figuratively slapped his hand over his mouth to keep from spouting more self-righteous verbiage when he saw God. Remember Isaiah? He admitted his mouth and heart and the collective mouths and hearts of the nation were sinful when he saw a vision of God. Remember Ezekiel? He fell to the ground in a faint when he saw a vision of God. All had seen a vision of God and all had reacted humbly, radically, honestly.
Peter knew Jesus nominally, until Jesus performed a miracle, doing something only God could do. Then he fell on his face and cringed over his sinfulness. Paul grew up steeped in the Scripture, a knowledgeable Pharisee blinded by the brilliance of Jesus and knocked to the ground on the road to Damascus. John knew Jesus during His ministry on earth, and walked with Jesus and the Church for the rest of his life. It doesn’t matter how much or what kind of knowledge you have, when you are face-to-face with Jesus you will react. When John saw Jesus he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Rev. 1:17).
How can sin, and anyone corrupted by sin, stand before a just, righteous and holy God. They cannot. This means God has to remove sin from the person before the person can enter His presence. He will do this but not without us acknowledging the truth of sin.