As you will hear in this PODCAST, John wasn’t a scholar, not by any stretch of imagination. Quite unlike the Apostle Paul, for example.
John engaged in virtually no complex doctrinal discussions involving the nuances of theology, the kinds of stuff in which Paul reveled.
John’s Greek is so simplistic that 1 John is invariably the first book every 1st-year Greek student translates.
John was a passionate soul, one who wrote far more emotionally than he did academically.
Consequently, John had the uncanny ability to relate to us all on such a visceral level that you get the sense that he understood exactly what it’s like to be us — fragile, fearful, human.
When their paths first crossed, Jesus met a rather unremarkable, uneducated fisherman from the provincial little town of Bethsaida. Yet, by the time Jesus got done with him, John became a prolific author (with one Gospel, three letters, and his magnum opus, the majestic book of Revelation to his literary credit).
John was the only one of the twelve who stayed with Jesus on that fateful day of the crucifixion. So devoted was he to Jesus, that with one of His last, dying breaths, Jesus committed the care of His dearly beloved mom, Mary, to John.
It was John who went from being known as a “Son of Thunder” for his uncontrollable temper, to the “Apostle whom Jesus loved,” as John so referred to himself because he could not get over that fact that Jesus saw in him someone who could be loved.
Among his other glistening credentials, John was for a time the pastor of little family of faith in Ephesus. John was arrested, charged with being a leader of a Christ-following community, sentenced, and subsequently banished to penal colony on island of Patmos.
Separated he now was — by the Aegean Sea — from the people he so loved, his modest little flock in Ephesus. Which explains why, when John was allowed to see the splendors of Heaven, the very first description he wrote was so curiously cryptic to us, but not to him. Just a fragment of a verse that spoke volumes to John: “There was no more sea” (Revelation 21:1).
Anyway, John was eventually released from Patmos. He then apparently became reunited with several people from his former congregation in Ephesus.
Much to John’s delight, many of his former flock had continued in his absence to follow Christ faithfully, and to raise their children to follow Christ. This brought John such enormous joy, as you can imagine, that he wrote this in 2 John:
“How happy I was to meet some of your children and to find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.”
“To find them living according to the truth.” Nothing brings more joy to a parent’s heart than that.
Likewise, there is nothing that brings to a parent more grief and heartache than to watch his or her child reject the truth they so love, and the God whom they so cherish.
That same anguish of soul floods the heart of every spouse whose husband or wife rejects truth, the family’s faith, the one true God. Just as it does anyone who watches helplessly as a beloved friend, relative, whomever, reject the truth.
The gallons of tears shed. The many sleepless nights spent worrying, agonizing, questioning, praying.
Our unnerving lament, written in a minor key, that invariably results from the knowledge that the thing we hold most dear they ridicule with contemptuous disdain.
The ever-present, nagging thought that perhaps if I had only said more, or said less; tried harder, or didn’t try so hard; or hadn’t
succumbed to my own weaknesses and hypocrisies. Maybe then I could have successfully passed onto my children a godly heritage one generation to the next.
And then, of course, there are those self-righteous parents whose own children are thriving in the faith. And they never seem to let you forget that you failed where they succeeded, causing us yet all the more guilt, shame, heartache, and heartbreak.
Just ask the mother of Zacchaeus.
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God bless you richly as you listen.