If you had met John the Beloved in his younger days you may not have liked him. He had a major ego problem. He looked out for himself at the expense of others, was impetuous and hated being corrected. The young man also had a serious temper and a violent appetite for revenge. And if that wasn't enough, he was also deeply critical of people.
Despite all this, Jesus truly loved John and saw his heroic potential, sincerity and a heart that loved Jesus in return. Jesus knew that, under the right influence, John could be an incredible force for good and He recruited him as a disciple.
As he matured, John proved an excellent choice. He was a loyal friend and a sincere, devoted disciple who would be an incredible asset to the early Christian community.
John was the youngest of the twelve apostles and the younger brother of fellow disciple James. Together with Andrew, Peter’s brother, these were Jesus’ first recruits. John was also a fisherman.
John lived to a great age. He lived long enough to see Jerusalem destroyed by the Romans and the temple ruined. He would be the last surviving disciple to have had a close connection to Jesus. This gave his words a special influence. Paired with his sincerity in talking about Jesus and His sacrifice, John helped countless people to believe in Jesus.
He was also a prolific writer. Over the course of his life, he is known for writing the book of John, three letters and the book of Revelation in the Bible. Jesus had picked a winner!
On the road to becoming a great apostle, John had a lot of maturing to do. After all, he was the disciple who reported to Jesus that he and his fellow disciples had “forbidden” a non-disciple from casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Jesus responded by saying “he who is not against us is on our side.”
Shamelessly, John and James, together with their mother, also tried to wrangle spots of honor by asking if the two brothers could sit to the left and right of Jesus’ throne in His kingdom.
In answer to their question, Jesus asked them if they could drink from His cup. They answered in the affirmative but Jesus told them that, while they could share in His suffering, it was His Father's decision as to who would sit where.
Jesus knew they were speaking out of pride and ambition and rebuked them by saying that those who would be great in His kingdom must be the servants of others.
Another time, Jesus sent messengers before Him into a Samaritan village, requesting the people to prepare refreshments for Him and His disciples. But when Jesus approached the town, it looked as if He wanted to press on to Jerusalem. The townspeople became jealous and instead of asking Him to stay, they withheld all the common courtesy they would usually offer to anyone.
James and John were especially angered at this show of disrespect. They said, "Lord, do You want us to call fire to rain down from heaven to destroy them, just as Elijah did?" They were referring to the destruction by fire from heaven of the Samaritan soldiers who had been sent by King Ahaziah to capture the prophet Elijah.
Jesus was upset by their impetuous behavior and they were shocked when He corrected them: "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
John, more than any other disciple, had a special place in Jesus' heart. The Bible refers to him as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 21:20). His closeness to Jesus was clear in a number of experiences: John, James and Peter were the only disciples to see Jesus raise the Pharisee Jairus’ daughter back to life. He was also one of the select three disciples who witnessed Jesus' transfiguration shortly before His arrest.
John was near Jesus as He was dying on the cross. The closeness between Jesus and John was revealed when Jesus declared to His mother that John was her son, and to John that Mary was his mother. This not only showed Jesus’ unselfish love for His mother, right to His dying breath, but also demonstrated His personal affection for John.
Jesus sent only John and Peter into the city of Jerusalem to make the arrangements for His final Passover meal (the last supper). At the meal itself, the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John) sat next to Jesus. It was customary to lie upon couches for meals, and this disciple leaned on Jesus. At the meal, Jesus told John that Judas would betray Him.
After Jesus had gone back to heaven and the Holy Spirit had come upon Jesus' followers, (known as Pentecost), John and Peter took a leading role in the early Christian movement. John was with Peter when the lame man at Solomon’s Porch in the temple was healed. He was also thrown into prison with Peter. He went with Peter to visit the newly converted believers in Samaria. John stayed in Judea and the surrounding area when the other disciples returned to Jerusalem for the Apostolic Council (about AD 51).
The Jewish leaders hated John for his testimony about Jesus and his faithfulness to Him. They wanted to silence him so the teachings and miracles of Jesus would be forgotten. They had him summoned to Rome to be tried for his faith. They produced false witnesses and distorted what he said so it appeared as if he was being rebellious and heretical.
John spoke in a clear and convincing way about his relationship with Jesus. People were astonished at the wisdom of his words. But the better his testimony, the more the hatred grew against him.
Emperor Domitian had him thrown into a pot of boiling oil. Despite this horrific ordeal, John remained loyal to Jesus, willing to go through anything for His name. John was then pulled out of the pot, unharmed.
Emperor Domitian then had John banished to the Isle of Patmos, a barren, rocky island in the Aegean Sea. This type of exile would have dampened the spirits and severely restricted the influence of John had he not felt even more convicted to share the message of Jesus.
John just kept going. While on the Isle of Patmos, he made friends, spread the message of God's love, and brought many to Jesus. Far from being a setback, John's forced relocation to Patmos would become the launch pad for what many would agree is his most influential piece of writing to this day: the Bible book of Revelation. This book would reveal John's best friend Jesus and His plans for the future of humanity.
"Come, Lord Jesus," said this biblical hero as he concluded Revelation, reminding the followers of Jesus that He would return to take them to heaven.