Tag Archives: Apostle John

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 4)

John after the Ascension

After listening to Jesus teach about the “things pertaining to the kingdom of God” and seeing the Lord ascended into heaven, John stayed in Jerusalem with the rest of the apostles.1  On the day of Pentecost, John heard the sound of a mighty rushing wind, and he started preaching the gospel in another language.  People gathered around to listen, and were amazed by what was happening.2  After Peter spoke up and proved that Jesus is the Messiah that had been prophesied in the Old Testament, John spent several hours baptizing people into Christ,3 and rejoicing at the salvation received by them.

Some days later, John accompanied Peter to the temple during the hour of prayer, 3:00 PM.4  They came upon a man who had never walked before, a man who was physically impaired from the time of his birth to prevent him from ever being able to walk.  Men carried him each day to the temple gate so that he could beg for money to survive.  As John walked towards the temple, the man asked him and Peter for money.  Instead of money, the man was given something even greater—healing.  John and Peter walked into the temple area with this man clinging to them, leaping for joy, as the people began to stare and follow them because they recognized this as the lame man who had been unable to ever walk.5  Peter took the opportunity to preach a sermon to the people, resulting in thousands believing in Jesus.  But the priests and Sadducees were extremely upset,6 and they arrested John and Peter, leaving them in jail overnight.7

The next morning, John, as well as Peter, was called to stand before the Sanhedrin, and questioned about how they were able to accomplish this great miracle.  The council wanted to know where John and Peter got the miraculous power, and also by whose authority it was done.8  They already knew that the miraculous ability had to have come from God (see John 3:2), but they wanted to know who gave them the authority to go into the temple complex and heal this man.  The book of Acts only records Peter speaking, but it is obvious that John wasn’t silent during this time, because after they were done answering, condemning the Jewish leaders for murdering Jesus Christ, the Bible says: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlettered and common men, they marveled, and recognized that they had been with Jesus.”9

The council couldn’t speak against John or Peter, because the proof of their claim was standing right next to them in the form of the formerly crippled man.  Instead, they threatened them not to speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus, to which John and Peter both replied, “You judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God; for we are not able not to speak the things which we have seen and heard.”10  Even though threatening John and Peter was completely ineffective, they threatened them again before finally letting them go, because they were too afraid to punish the two apostles.11

John and Peter, after being released, went to the other apostles,12 and reported what had happened.13  The whole group prayed together, asking for continued boldness, and as a result, God filled them with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke again with boldness, and were able to exercise “great power.”14

Sometime later, after Stephen was murdered and Saul of Tarsus began to viciously persecute the church, John and the other apostles received word that Philip had gone into Samaria and converted many of them to Jesus Christ.  They were excited about this new information, certainly remembering the words of Jesus before He ascended that the gospel would be spread from Jerusalem, to Judea, and to Samaria as well.15 The apostles chose John and Peter to go to the Samaritans,16 with the purpose of facilitating their reception of the miracles which were given by the Holy Spirit.17  It is interesting that John was sent, since at one time he asked for power to call down fire on a village of Samaria18—what a difference now!  Some have suggested that John and Peter were sent in order to confirm to the Jews in Jerusalem that the addition of the Samaritans was approved by God, and not just something cooked up in the mind of Philip.19

After arriving, John and Peter went to God in prayer on behalf of the Samaritan Christians, asking that they might also receive the miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit.  They were then guided by God to lay hands on certain individuals for this purpose. 20 When Simon, a magician-turned-Christian with a significant desire for prominence, saw this, he offered the two apostles money if they would give him the power to pass on the miraculous gifts.  Peter and John both replied, condemning his actions and him as well if he did not repent, after which Simon asked them to pray to God on his behalf so that the things which they had said wouldn’t happen to him.21

After this incident, John and Peter gave their testimony about Jesus, and proclaimed the word of the Lord to them.  Then they left that city, returning to Jerusalem, but stopping to preach in many Samaritan villages along the way, converting more souls to Jesus Christ.22  Upon returning to Jerusalem, they no doubt gave a first-hand report of the things which occurred in Samaria to the other apostles who had sent them, and joined with them in rejoicing about the new souls that had joined in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The joy in the growth of the church continued, but John also experienced some sadness.  The Gentiles had just begun to be added to the church, which upset many of the Jews greatly.  Herod, who continually sought for the approval of the Jews, arrested and killed John’s brother, James.23  Such a thing pleased the Jews, and certainly John was happy that his brother had passed into Paradise, but there was no doubt a great sadness that he would no longer see his brother in this life.

Within a few years, a great controversy erupted in the church over whether Gentile converts to Christianity must first be circumcised.  Paul, Barnabas, and Peter were the star witnesses for God during a large gathering in Jerusalem to deal with this issue.  After the matter was decided, John, Peter, and James (the brother of our Lord)24 gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, showing that they endorsed the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.25

Thus we see John being connected with the gospel in Jerusalem, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the earth.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 1.

2 These events are recorded in the second chapter of Acts, specifically verses 1-12.

3 If we assume that the apostles were not hurrying people along, we can estimate that each apostle baptized one person per minute (it can be done much quicker than that, but we’ll go with longer period here for the sake of argument).  That means that each apostle could baptize 60 people per hour.  There’s 12 apostles, so that makes 720 baptisms per hour.  At that rate, the apostles themselves could have easily baptized the 3,000 souls into Christ in just over four hours.  And since the sermon took place around nine in the morning (Acts 2:15), that would make the baptisms completed by around 1:30-2:00 in the afternoon.  Even if they went twice as slow, they’d still have gotten everyone baptized while there was still daylight.

4 It should be noted that this was not a time which was commanded by God, but was something that the Jews had gradually turned into a tradition.  There was nothing wrong with it, and the two apostles did not sin by observing the religious traditions of the Jews.  They would have sinned if they had attempted to bind it on others, or if they had condemned others for taking that time to pray.  Religious traditions, so long as they do not violate the Law of God, are fine—understanding that they are traditions and not something to be bound upon others, nor something to condemn others for observing.

5 This incident is recorded in Acts 3.

6 The priests were upset because if what Peter and John were preaching was true, their service in offering sacrifices was no longer valid.  Additionally, as the priests were teachers in the temple area, they would have had quite a fit of jealousy when the people flocked to hear John and Peter.  The Sadducees were extremely upset because Peter’s sermon was promoting the resurrection—something which they vehemently denied.  In essence, Peter’s sermon identified the Sadducees as false teachers, and they didn’t like it one bit.

7 The response of the people is seen in Acts 4:1-4.

8 Acts 4:7.  Campbell makes the following observation on the question of the council: “Ποια δυναμει, not ποια εξουσια—physical strength.  In what strength—in what name?  There was strength and authority also in the name of the Lord.  But as to the spectators—in this case of physical infirmity—their attention was absorbed in the strength put forth.” (Alexander Campbell, Acts of the Apostles, Translated from the Greek, on the Basis of the Common English Version.  With Notes.  New York: American Bible Union, 1858, page 25).

9 Acts 4:13.  KJV says “unlearned and ignorant,” but this isn’t accurate according to the present use of those terms.  Robertson says, “Unlearned…Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. …ignorant…a layman, a man not in office (a privatae person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools.” (Robertson’s Word Pictures, on Acts 4:13).  The Greek word translated “ignorant” is idiotai, from where we get our word idiot.

10 Acts 4:19-20.  Note the two negatives in the last part, “we are not able not to speak.”  In other words, “It is impossible for us to remain silent.”

11 Acts 4:21-22.

12 Acts 4:23.  The word “company” (KJV) certainly includes the apostles, though some believe it includes other Christians as well.  Campbell says “…to their own friends, not especially to the Apostles.” (Acts of the Apostles, page 28).  This is unlikely.  The Greek word, idios, means “one’s own,” and is used in the Bible to refer to one’s own countrymen (John 1:11), one’s own family (1 Timothy 5:8), one’s own disciples (John 13:1), and one’s own friends (Acts 24:23).  The group under consideration all prayed together, asking for continued boldness, and the result was a miraculous filling with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31), and “great [miraculous] power” was exercised by the apostles, not by the Christians in general (Acts 4:33).  The context, and what we learn from Acts 8 relative to the way miraculous gifts were passed on (including the inspiration mentioned in Acts 4:31), leads us to conclude that John and Peter went to their own company, that is, they went to the other ten apostles.

13 The other Apostles (and other Christians too), would have been worried about John and Peter, since they no doubt would have heard of their arrest and heard that there was going to be a trial of sorts.  Most likely, the apostles were gathered for a time of prayer on behalf of John and Peter.  Christians did this same thing in Acts 12 when Peter was in jail (see especially verse 12).

14 Acts 4:31, 33.  See also the author’s notes on this passage in The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.

15 Acts 1:4.

16 Literally, the apostles apostled John and Peter (Acts 8:14).  The word “sent” (KJV) is the verb form of apostle.

17 Acts 8:14-16.  This passage is treated extensively in The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts by this author.  See there for a much fuller explanation and proof that the reception of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to being able to perform miracles.

18 Luke 9:54.

19 See Robertson’s Word Pictures on Acts 4:14.

20 It was not a universal promise that all Christians would receive the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:38-39 limits it to a single generation, and then only to those whom God selected for that purpose.  It is obvious that Simon had become a Christian (Acts 8:12-13), but he only knew that the Holy Spirit was given by what he saw take place when the apostles laid hands on others—he did not know it from person experience, but only from seeing it.  Thus we have an example of a Christian who never “received the Holy Spirit.”

21 Acts 8:18-24.  Simon’s response in verse 24 proves that John wasn’t a silent partner in the condemnation.  Simon said, “You [plural] pray to the Lord for me so that none of these things which you [plural] have spoken happen to me.”  Whether Simon ever truly repented is difficult to say.  We would like to think that he did, especially based on his belief of the condemnation that was pronounced on him, but that is inferring something that might not be a necessary inference.  It is the almost universal declaration of early Christian writers that Simon remained apostate and worked to lead people away from Jesus.  See the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Simon Magus.”   Ignatius calls him “the firstborn of Satan” (James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible, “Simon Magus”).

22 Acts 8:25.

23 Acts 12:1-2.  It is generally assumed (and quite probably right) that James was beheaded (see Johnson’s The People’s New Testament with Notes, on Acts 12:2), though the words used by Luke don’t demand that interpretation. “The Jews considered beheading a shameful death” (Robertson’s Word Pictures, on Acts 12:2), which explains why it please them to see it happen to one of the leaders of the Christian movement.

24 See chapter dealing with this James for more information on his role during this incident.

25 Compare Acts 15 with Galatians 2:1-10.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 3)

John after the Resurrection

John stayed at the cross until after Jesus had died, and witnessed first-hand the soldier shoving a spear into the side of Jesus.  He watched as the blood and water came flowing from the wound, and it made an indelible impression on him.  Years later, when he wrote his account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, he made sure to include this information, and even stressed that he was there to see it firsthand.1

After the death of Jesus, John was quite sad and upset. He still didn’t understand the Scriptures, that Jesus would rise from the dead.2 But the next morning, Mary Magdalene, along with Joanna, and Mary, the mother of James,3 came running to him and the other apostles, most likely with tears and confusion, saying, “They’ve taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we don’t know where they’ve laid him.”  They also said that they had seen men in shining clothes who told them that Jesus had risen.  But the apostles thought they were making things up and didn’t believe them.4

However, John and Peter took off running immediately for the tomb where Jesus had been laid.  John was the faster of the two men, and beat Peter there.  Then, while waiting for Peter to get there, John bent down and looked inside.  There he saw the linen burial clothes laying inside the rock tomb, but he didn’t enter.  Then, Peter finally arrived and went straight in the place where Jesus’ body had been placed a few days earlier.  John followed Peter in, and saw again the burial clothes laying there, and also noticed that the face cloth was laying by itself, “rolled up” (ASV) together.  Seeing this was enough to make John believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even though he didn’t understand yet that it was what the Scriptures had foretold.5  Coffman has some interesting comments at this point:

Commentators who refer this to some mere tidying up of the grave, or the folding of the garments (there were no garments; but medical bandages), miss the point. Since when has it ever been supposed that a folded garment, or cloth, proved that the dead had arisen? The certain implication of this astounding narration is that Jesus had risen through the winding shroud of bandages, napkin and all, leaving behind the positive and undeniable evidence of his supernatural triumph over death. Remember, this evidence convinced John. The very amount of space accorded this phenomenon in this Gospel is far more than enough to indicate the extraordinary implications of “the linen cloths lying.” Matthew has a remarkable corroboration of this account in the words of the angel, “Come see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 26:6), thus emphatically implying all that John here related.

…The napkin around the head would not have connected with the winding shroud; and that independent placement was preserved in the manner of the linen cloths lying.6

Barclay agrees:

Then something else struck him–the grave-clothes were not disheveled and disarranged. They were lying there still in their folds—that is what the Greek means—the clothes for the body where the body had been; the napkin where the head had lain. The whole point of the description is that the grave-clothes did not look as if they had been put off or taken off; they were lying there in their regular folds as if the body of Jesus had simply evaporated out of them. The sight suddenly penetrated to John’s mind; he realized what had happened—and he believed. It was not what he had read in scripture which convinced him that Jesus had risen; it was what he saw with his own eyes.7

That evening, word had spread that Peter had seen the Lord,8 and John gathered together with all the apostles (except for Thomas, who was absent).9  They kept the doors shut, in fear that the Jewish leaders might come after them—especially now that whispers were spreading that the tomb was found empty, and people were claiming to have seen Jesus very much alive.10  While they were gathered together, Jesus appeared in their midst, and said “Peace to you,” and showed them His hands and His side, proving that it was Him.  Joy cannot begin to describe the feeling that John was experiencing.  But at the same time, Jesus upbraided them because they hadn’t believed the ones who had told them that He had been raised.11

Some time afterwards, John accompanied Peter and some of the other apostles onto a boat where they went fishing all night, but caught nothing.  The next morning, John saw a man on the shore, who called out to them, “Children, do you have any food?”  After they replied in the negative, John heard the man say, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you’ll find [fish].”  When they did this, there were so many fish that they couldn’t draw the net in.

The other apostles apparently didn’t realize who it was on the shore, but John did.  He said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”  John was left with the boat as he watched Peter jump into the water and swim to shore.  John and the other apostles brought the ship to shore, dragging the net behind them, and then sat down with Jesus and ate.

After they finished eating, Jesus began to walk with Peter, and John followed them.  It is probable that John heard at least part of the conversation, including Jesus’ foretelling of Peter’s death, and Peter asking Jesus, “What about this man?” (referring to John).  Then John heard Jesus’ reply of, “If I desire that he remains until I come, what is that to you?  You follow me.”  Decades later, this conversation about John was still remembered, so that when John wrote his account of the good news of Jesus, he had to make it clear that Jesus wasn’t saying John would never die—just that John’s fate was unimportant to the command of Jesus to “follow me.”12

That is a lesson that we would all do well to remember—it doesn’t matter what anyone else does, our command is to follow Jesus.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 19:30-35.  John does not emphasize his status as an eyewitness for any other specific event his gospel account.  This shows that the blood and water coming from Christ has a major significance.  See Romans 6:3-5; Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5, 7:14.

2 John 20:9.

3 Luke 24:10.  Most likely, this is Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.  Since they had not yet seen Jesus Himself raised, she would have been called by the name of her oldest known living son, which was James.  Luke has a general habit of not mentioning someone by name unless he expected the reader to already know who that person was, or unless that person showed up elsewhere in his writings.  Joanna was mentioned in Luke 8:3, Mary Magdalene in 8:2.  Other than Mary Magdalene, Luke mentions two women named Mary: Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (and his brothers, including James).  Since it was already common knowledge (thanks to Matthew’s gospel which was published and distributed around 20 years earlier) that James was the brother of Jesus and the son of Mary, Luke could identify the mother of Jesus as “Mary, the mother of James,” and the readers would have known exactly what he meant by it.

4 John 20:1-2 only mentions Mary Magdalene speaking to John and Peter, but she says “we don’t know where they’ve laid Him.”  Luke 24:10-11 mentions two other women by name, and includes “others.”  It is possible that the women split up in order to get the news spread to the apostles quickly.

5 John 20:1-9.

6 James Burton Coffman, comments on John 20:6-7.

7 The Daily Study Bible Commentary on John, notes on John 20:1-10.

8 Luke 24:33-34.  The actual appearance to Peter isn’t described in the Scriptures, but it is referenced in this passage, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:5.

9 John 20:24-25.  For why Thomas may have been absent during this meeting, see the chapter dealing with him.

10 Even the Jewish leaders knew the tomb was empty, for they paid the soldiers who were guarding it to lie and say that the disciples stole the body (Matthew 28:11-15).

11 Mark 16:9-15.

12 This whole incident is found in the last chapter of John, especially

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 2)

John as an Apostle

One morning, John and the rest of the disciples of Jesus were called to go up a mountain where Jesus had been praying all night.  John must have been excited by being selected as one of just twelve men that would be representatives for the miracle-working man that he believed to be the Messiah.  John then followed his cousin down the mountain, where he saw a crowd of people waiting—and Jesus healed the sick and diseased among them.1

After preaching in Decapolis, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus returned to Capernaum2 and was approached by the ruler of the synagogue, Jairus,3 concerning his daughter who was near to death.  John was one of just three disciples of Jesus who was selected to accompany the Lord inside the house to see this little girl raised from the dead.4

Later on, John was taken by Jesus, along with Peter and James, to a mountain where Jesus prayed.  John fell asleep, but when he awoke, the sight before him was quite a shock: Jesus was positively shining, and standing with Him were Moses and Elijah.  Then a cloud overshadowed them, and they heard God Himself speak, “This is my beloved Son: hear Him.”  And then John looked, and the two Old Testament figures had disappeared, leaving only Jesus.  A mixture of fear and excitement was boiling inside John, but Jesus told them not to say anything about what they had seen until after He was risen from the dead.5

Upon returning to Capernaum, John and the other disciples argued about who was the greatest among them.  Jesus criticized them all, and said, “If any man desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”6  This is a lesson that John apparently didn’t learn the first time, because not too long afterwards, he and his brother James had their mother ask Jesus for the two greatest seats in the kingdom, causing Jesus to say almost the exact same words: “Whoever shall be great among you shall be your servant; and whoever of you desires to be the first shall be servant of all.”7

In between these two events, John tells Jesus a story about how, when the apostles were out and about, they saw someone who wasn’t part of their group casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  John and some others went to the man and told him to cease, because he wasn’t following them.  To this, Jesus replied, “Don’t forbid him, for there is no man who shall do a miracle in my name that can speak evil lightly of me.  For he that is not against us is on our side.”8  John learned an important lesson there—don’t forbid people from doing good.

But what happens when people are staunchly rejecting Jesus?  John didn’t just want to forbid them, he wanted to kill them!

It came to pass, when the time was come that [Jesus] should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.  And He sent messengers before His face: and they went and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make [things] ready for Him.  And they didn’t receive Him because His face was as though He desired to go to Jerusalem.  And when His disciples, James and John, saw, they said, “Lord, do you desire that we command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did?”  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”  And they went to another village.9

Jesus and His disciples came to the Jerusalem area, and stayed at the house of Lazarus on the Sabbath.10 On the next day, John witnessed the “triumphal entry,”11 where Jesus entered the city riding the colt of an ass, and heard the people crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord!”12  Then John followed Jesus to the temple, where the Lord taught the people, after which they returned to Bethany (probably to the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha).13  On Monday, John followed Jesus back into Jerusalem.  Along the way, they saw a fig tree, and Jesus desired to eat some of the fruits from it.  However, there was nothing but leaves on the tree, and John heard Jesus utter the words “Let no fruit grow on you, henceforward forever!”14  After they came into Jerusalem, and into the temple, John watched:

Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; and He would not allow that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.  And He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called by all nations The House of Prayer’?  But you have made it a den of thieves!”15

That evening, John accompanied Jesus out of Jerusalem for the night.16

On Tuesday, John again accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, and they passed the same tree they had the day before.  Except this time, the tree was dried up from the roots—completely withered—after which Jesus spoke about the power of faith.  They then entered the city and went into the temple, where a group of scribes, elders, and chief priests confronted Jesus and demanded to know where He got His authority to do these things.  John must have smiled to himself when he heard Jesus reply by asking them where John’s authority to baptize came from—and saw the Jewish leaders feign ignorance.17

Then, John heard Jesus give a parable, condemning the Jewish leaders—and they knew it was directed at them—for rejecting Him.18  Then he saw Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees all working together, taking turns trying to trap Jesus.19  As they were leaving the temple, one of the disciples (we’re not told which one) said to Jesus, “Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings!”  To this, Jesus replied, “You see these great buildings?  There shall not be left one stone on another, that shall not be thrown down.”20

It was because of this statement of Jesus that John approached Jesus with Peter, Andrew, and James, and asked Jesus to “Tell us when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?”21  In answer to those questions, Jesus told these four men about the signs to look for, including “when you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”22 This he did, foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem—which took place 40 years later in AD 70.23

Thursday evening,24 Jesus came with John and the rest of the apostles to a large upper room that was prepared for them to eat the Passover.25  Earlier, Jesus had specifically selected Peter and John, sent them from Bethany into Jerusalem so that this room could be made ready.

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed.  And He [Jesus] sent Peter and John, saying “Go and prepare us the Passover, so that we may eat.”  And they said to Him, “Where do you wish that we prepare it?”

And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered into the city, a man will meet you there, carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.  And you shall say to the goodman of the house, ‘The Master says to you, “Where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.”

And they went, and found [everything] as He had said to them: and they made ready the Passover.26

Based on the command of Jesus and John and Peter’s obedience, it appears that these two disciples actually did the killing and cooking of the lamb in preparation for what is usually called “The Last Supper.”

When they were all gathered together in the upper room, Jesus said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”27 It was during this occasion that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, followed by announcing that one of the twelve was going to betray Him.28  The apostles all began to ask, “is it I?”29

Now there was, leaning on Jesus’ bosom, one of His disciples [John], whom Jesus loved.  Therefore, Simon Peter motioned to him, so that he should ask who it would be about whom He spoke.  He, then, lying on Jesus’ chest, says to Him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it.”  And when He had dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.30

Then, the same old argument came up again about which one would be greatest among them.  It is possible that James and John had learned their lesson by this point and kept their mouth shut, but it’s also possible that their ego took over again.31  And like before, Jesus had to teach them the lesson about being a servant.32  Yet just hours after they were arguing about who would be the greatest, they all (even John) ran away and forsook Jesus.33

Before abandoning Jesus, however, John was taken by Jesus with Peter and James in order to “watch” while He prayed.34  But John, like the other two, fell asleep.  After being awakened by the Lord, John again went to sleep shortly after the Lord left to go pray a second time.  The next time John woke up, Judas was arriving with a band of soldiers.35

After abandoning Jesus, John regained some of his composure, and began to follow the crowd to the high priest, Annas.  The high priest knew John, which many have taken as evidence that John’s family was wealthy, and so this disciple was permitted to enter into the court to view the proceedings.  He watched as Jesus was interrogated and brutalized during this mock trial.36

Whether John followed Jesus to his other trials that morning isn’t stated, but he stood at the cross, looking up at His Master who was hanging, bleeding, and beaten.  He heard the Lord say to His mother Mary, “Woman, behold your son!”  Then John heard Jesus speak directly to him, “Behold, your mother!”  And from that moment, John took care of her.37

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Luke 6:12-19.

2 Matthew places this incident with others which took place in Capernaum.  See Matthew 9:1 (“His own city”), 9:9-17 (the call of Matthew, followed by the feast at Matthew’s house), after which Matthew says “While He spoke these things to them, behold, a certain ruler [Jairus] came to Him…”  Mark places these events in Capernaum (Mark 2:1-22).

3 This Jairus, being the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum, would have been on hand to see Jesus casting out the demon, as recorded in Luke 4:31-37.

4 Luke 8:51-55.

5 Luke 9:28-36, Mark 9:8-9.

6 Mark 9:33-35.

7 Matthew 20:20-24; Mark 10:35-44, especially verses 43-44.  The KJV says “chiefest,” but the Greek is the same as in 9:35 and 10:44.

8 Mark 9:38-40.  Neither Mark nor Luke (the only other gospel writer who mentions this event) tell us who this man casting out demons in Jesus’ name was.  Some (Lange, Lightfoot, and others) have suggested that this man was a disciple of John the Immerser who cast out demons by the name of the “Messiah” which he expected to come, not necessarily doing it in the name of “Jesus”—but there is no evidence that any of John’s disciples were able to perform miracles.  Others (Calvin, most notably) take the ridiculous stance that this man “proceeded inconsiderately to work miracles.”   Clarke suggests that this man might have been one of the seventy who had been given miraculous abilities, yet who decided to not be part of the mass of disciples after returning from his mission—except that this event took place before Christ chose the seventy (see Luke 9:49-10:1).

What is important to note is that John doesn’t say the man was trying to cast out demons (like the sons of Sceva in Acts 19), but that he was actually doing it.  Jesus even acknowledges that this man was actually working miracles by saying “Don’t forbid him [from casting out demons].”  Thus this man had been given miraculous power by God (probably via Christ), because he was a true disciple of the Lord, even though for whatever reason, he was unable to devote all of his time to following Jesus on His preaching tours.

9 Luke 9:51-56.  The first-rate chronological historian gives no record of events between John’s misplaced zeal for forbidding those who believed in Jesus and his desire to destroy the ones who rejected Him.  It’s as though John was saying, “Jesus, I get that we aren’t supposed to forbid those who are doing good, but surely you can’t have a problem with us wiping out those who are refusing to help you at all!”  What John didn’t understand at that point was the patience of the Lord, and that the Lord Himself will take care of punishing the wicked at judgment.

10 John 12:1-13, with special emphasis on the first and last verse of that section.

11 It is never called that in Scriptures, but it is the commonly accepted name for what took place on the Sunday prior to Jesus’ crucifixion.

12 Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38 (Luke says “Blessed is the King…”).  This is a quotation of Psalm 118:26.  Most likely, the Jews who were saying this would have quoted the verse as it is written, which is “Blessed is he that comes in the name of Jehovah!”

13 Mark 11:11, Luke 19:47.  Mark provides some specifics on the passage of days during this week (see Mark 11:12).

14 Mark 11:12-14; Matthew 21:19.  Mark adds the detail that it wasn’t time for figs yet (verse 13).

15 Mark 11:15-17.  This was a significant event which emboldened the scribes and chief priests to even more want Jesus dead (Mark 11:18).

16 Mark 11:19.

17 Mark 11:20-33; Luke 20:1-8.

18 The fullest account of this exchange between Jesus and the Jewish leadership is found in Matthew 21:33-46.

19 Mark 12:13-27. This is astounding, because these are (for lack of a better term) different political parties within Judaism.  They were violently opposed to each other (see Acts 23, for example), but they all recognized that Jesus was a danger to their positions of power.

20 Mark 13:1-2, Matthew 24:1-2, Luke 21:5-6.

21 Mark 12:3-4 is the only place that tells us that this question was asked by just these four men.

22 Luke 21:20.  Matthew calls it “the abomination of desolation” which Daniel foretold, meaning that Jesus described something that had been prophesied hundreds of years earlier.

23 There are disagreements about the exact year of Jesus’ death, but biblically and historically speaking, it is most likely AD 30, which makes Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 forty years away.

24 For the Jews, the new day of the week began at 6pm, because of Genesis 1, which says “the evening and the morning were the first day.”  So Thursday evening to them, because it began a new day, is what we would refer to as Wednesday evening.

25 Mark 14:12-17.

26 Luke 22:7-13.

27 Luke 22:15.  This is another way of saying, “I have desired very much…”

28 Some have argued, based on Matthew and Mark’s accounts (juxtaposed with John’s) that Judas left prior to the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  However, Luke (who claimed to write chronologically) places the announcement of betrayal (“the hand of him that betrays me is with me on the table”) after the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-22).

29 Mark 14:18.

30 John 13:23-26.  It seems strange that though Jesus positively identified Judas as the betrayer, none of the other apostles seemed to catch what He was saying.  Judas had them all fooled.

31 Luke 22:24.  It’s interesting that this should come right on the heels of Jesus announcing that one of them would betray Him.  It may be that they went from saying, “Is it I?” to “It couldn’t be me,” to “I know it couldn’t be me, because I’m the most devoted follower Jesus has.”

32 Luke 22:25-30.

33 Matthew 26:56.

34 Mark 14:32-34.

35 Matthew 26:36-47.

36 John 18:15-22.

37 John 19:26-27.  Some have questioned why it is that Jesus would ask John to take care of his mother instead of asking His own brothers.  First, it is most likely that Joseph was no longer alive at this point (otherwise Jesus would be asking His mother to leave her husband, which is ridiculous).  Second, John wasn’t a stranger—he was Mary’s nephew, so John is still family.  Third, at this point, the brothers of Jesus were not believers, and perhaps Jesus didn’t want to subject His mother to staying with non-believers.  Fourth, John was apparently wealthy—the family fishing business was large enough to employ servants, and John was on friendly terms with the high priest (which couldn’t be said of many—if any—poor people).  We don’t know that the Jesus’ brothers were financially able to care for their mother.

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved–The Life of the Apostle John (Part 1)

Like his brother James, John was a son of Zebedee and a first-cousin of Jesus Christ.1  It is perhaps because of a close family relationship that John identifies himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”2 in his account of the gospel.

John as a Disciple

There is no clear, definitive evidence showing when John first began to follow the Lord.  But it is very possible that we see it in John 1:

The next day after, John [the immerser] stood, and two of his disciples; and looking on Jesus as He walked, he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.  Then Jesus turned and saw them following, and says to them, “What are you seeking?”  They say to Him, “Rabbi,” (which is to say, being interpreted, “Master”) “where are you staying?”  He says to them, “Come and see.”  They came and saw where He was staying, and stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.  One of the two which heard John [the immerser] and followed Him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.3

Apparently out of humility, the apostle John never once mentions himself by name in his gospel account.  With one exception, he always refers to himself in this book as a “disciple.”4  So it should come as no surprise if this nameless disciple, who was among the very first to follow Jesus, was in fact the apostle John.5

Assuming this to be the case, it is possible that John then went and found his brother James and brought him to Jesus as well.6  Then, John would have been present with his cousin Jesus and his aunt Mary at the marriage in Cana,7 and would have traveled with his cousins to Capernaum afterwards,8  then to Jerusalem where Jesus cast out the money-changers,9 and into Judea where John would have helped in baptizing people.10  Upon returning to Galilee, John apparently went back to his fishing business along with his brother James and their friends Peter and Andrew.

It was back in Capernaum some time later that John and his brother saw Jesus in the synagogue, teaching with authority and casting out a demon.  Afterwards, he accompanied Jesus to Andrew and Peter’s house, where Peter’s mother-in-law was sick.  After Jesus healed her, John almost certainly engaged in religious discussion with Jesus (as would Peter, Andrew, and James as well).  Some time later, John was with James, working on their fishing nets, when Jesus began to teach by the Lake of Gennesaret.11  Jesus got in Simon’s ship and after teaching, told Peter to let down his net; the net became so full of fish that Peter called for John and James to come help bring in the catch.  It is after this that Jesus called both John and James to follow Him, which they did, leaving their father Zebedee with the hired servants in the ship.12

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 This fact would also mean that he was the first cousin of James (the Lord’s brother) and Jude.  See the previous chapter for how this relationship is taught in the Scriptures.

2 This statement is found in John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20.

3 John 1:35-40.

4 The only time where John uses a different descriptive term to identify himself is found in John 21:2, where he refers to himself and his brother by the term “the sons of Zebedee.”  And even in there, he refers to himself as one of the “disciples” (see the previous verse).

5 Hovey says: “But who was the unnamed companion of Andrew? Probably the Evangelist himself. For: (1) the narrative in this place is very particular and graphic, making it probable that the writer was an eye-witness. (2) The writer of such a narrative would have been sure to mention the name of the other disciple, unless there had been some reason for withholding it. (3) The writer of this Gospel never refers to himself by name, and the same feeling which led him to withhold his name elsewhere accounts for his withholding it here.” (Alvah Hovey, Commentary on John, p. 78).  It is the details, even down to the exact time (the tenth hour, aka 4pm) that makes this even more likely.  Such is also the suggestion of Barclay, Albert Barnes, B.W. Johnson, Clarke, Coke, Dummelow, Dake, Gill, Rhoderick Ice, Lange, McGarvey, Robertson, and Vincent (among others).

6 Some have argued that John 1:41, which says that Andrew first went to find his brother Simon, indicates that the other disciple (likely John) also went to find his brother.

7 John 2:1-2.

8 John 2:11-12.

9 John 2:13-23.

10 John 3:22, compare with 4:1-2.

11 This is another name for the Sea of Galilee, which John himself calls the Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1).  See James Hasting’s Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels, “Galilee, Sea of.”