Do you want to learn the different lessons from the life of the Apostle John? If yes, you came to the right place. Here’s a blog that will help you know more about the Apostle John, his life, and most importantly, the lessons he teaches. Read on!
There are a lot of people named John in the Bible but one person really stands out – the Apostle John. Among the disciples of Christ, he is one of the most prominent, even attaining the title, John the Beloved.
No doubt, examining the life of the Apostle John would give us valuable lessons that could guide us how we can become a true follower of Yahshua the Messiah or popularly known as Jesus Christ. In this post, let me share with you some of the most powerful lessons you can learn from the life of the Apostle John.
Lesson no. 1: You must not delay answering God’s calling
The Apostle John is probably the younger brother of James. They are both the sons of Zebedee and their primary occupation is fishing. Notice what Matthew 4:21-22 tells us:
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and IMMEDIATELY they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
One of the most important gifts that God would give us is our calling. Not everyone is being called today and the majority of this world would be given their chance in the future.
God has called us to follow Him. The question now is; will you answer His call? And if yes, when will you answer it?
As Christians, we must learn this important lesson from the life of the Apostle John. When God calls you, don’t procrastinate. The sooner you answer God’s calling, the better you will be able to avoid unnecessary pain and suffering in this world.
Some people think that following God will take away their freedom. They thought that the way to happiness is simply following their own human nature and do what they think is best for them.
However, many people have taken this path and ended up empty, sad, and even miserable.
By answering God’s calling today, you are making the BEST decision of your life. Why? Because living this life with God is tremendously different when you live it by yourself. With God, everything suddenly has a purpose. No matter what happens in your life, you know that you can go through it with God strengthening you.
You begin living this life with the knowledge that one day you will give account to everything that you do. You know that there will come a time when you will stand before the Great White Throne and so, you will do your best to follow the will of God in your life.
The Apostle John made a life-changing decision that day and you should too. Answer God’s calling and your life will never be the same again!
Lesson no. 2: God calls the humble
Humility is a prerequisite of answering God’s calling. God can’t use you if you are full of yourself. If you are not humble enough, it would be difficult to respond to God’s invitation.
Answering God’s calling involves surrendering your life and will to God. Thus, a prideful spirit will find it hard to become God’s followers.
We read in I Corinthians 1:26-29:
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
If God will call boastful and prideful people, they will only glory in themselves. That’s why God calls the foolish things of this world to be part of His Kingdom.
It is no wonder that God calls fishermen to be His Disciples. When Jesus started calling His Disciples, He looked for them by the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:18). He didn’t look for His Disciples in Rome where the emperor resides. He didn’t search in the high courts where the priests and learned men are found. He didn’t search in the big cities where rich people live.
He went to Galilee, a remote part of the country. It is a place not even known by a lot of people. He went by the sea and called not nobles, but fishermen. Of all the people whom God plans to assign the most important work on earth, he chose fishermen and one of them is the Apostle John.
Fishermen are more likely to answer the call of God compared to the wealthy, famous, and powerful people. You know what’s the difference between them? It is humility.
While it is true that not all fishermen are humble and not all rich people are proud, it is more likely that the lowly and the poor, in general, have a better chance of answering God’s call.
Lesson no. 3: Zeal must be tempered with love and wisdom
John is one of the Apostles who was named as Boanerges, which means The Sons of Thunder. In Mark 3:17, it does not specifically mention why James and John have earned this title. However, Christ is the discerner of the heart and He knows exactly the character and nature of the two brothers.
The main reason Yahshua or Jesus Christ nicknamed John as Boanerges is because he has thunder-like qualities. It means that he is zealous, but like a thunder, though it is so powerful, it can be very destructive.
One incident that comes into mind is Luke 9:51-56. Yahshua, together with His Disciples, came to a Samaritan village. Just because they were set for a journey to Jerusalem, they were rejected by the Samaritans.
James and John, who are filled with zeal, asked Jesus, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
In the mind of James and John, they are doing the right thing. After all, it was also done by Elijah, one of the greatest prophets of old. However, Christ has a different approach. He rebuked James and John and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”
This incident is one of the examples in the Bible that shows the great zeal of John, but sometimes, this zeal isn’t used properly. I would venture to say that there are other incidents not recorded in the Bible that show John’s thunderous character.
So, what can we learn from this? It simply shows that our zeal should be coupled with love as well as wisdom. You can be the most zealous Christian in your place, but if you don’t use it properly, you can hurt other people as well as yourself.
For example, the Apostle Paul instructed us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). While you may know the truth and the zeal to share it, but if you don’t speak it with love, you might just be offending people instead of winning them to your side.
Another example is Jim Elliot. He is one of the four missionaries who was killed by the Huaorani tribe. This tribe is known to be fierce and violent to people who try to make contact with them. While it is admirable to see missionaries who are trying to teach Christianity to unreached tribes, Jim and his friends used their zeal in a way that has cost their lives.
(Be sure to read “Lessons I learned from the life of Jim Elliot”.)
Therefore, pray to God that he may grant you steadfast zeal as well as the love and wisdom to know how to use it.
Lesson no. 4: seek to serve rather than be served
John made an amazing request. He asked Christ to make him as well as his brother James, to sit beside Christ in His Throne of glory. Perhaps, you might be wondering why John has the audacity to ask such a great demand. It could be because John is a close relative to Jesus. Whatever the reason might be, it is obvious that John is acting upon his human nature.
In Matthew 20:20, it was their mother who made the request. In Mark 10:35, it was James and John. After confirming the willingness of John to go through hardship just to have his request granted, Christ responded:
“You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared” (Mark 10:39-40).
Now, here’s where the next problem arose. The other disciples heard the conversation and they were greatly displeased, not because they are concerned with James’ and John’s foolish request, but because they too want those position as well.
Yahshua gathered them together and taught, “But whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45).
The Disciples of Christ didn’t expect such a remarkable answer!
They thought that being great is holding a respected and high position. They thought that the more people serving you, the greater you become.
Obviously, that’s the carnal definition of being great. For Christians like us, greatness is measured by how much you have served others.
Christ leads by example. He shows His Disciples as well as His followers today that if you want to be great, you need to serve. There’s no other way to do it, but to serve and serving involves humility, which leads us to point number 2. This confirms that God can’t use you if you are filled with pride.
So, if you want to be great, choose to serve!
Lesson no. 5: Follow God instead of men
Before John became a disciple of Christ, he was first a follower of John the Baptist or Baptizer. We read in John 1:35:
“Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.”
One of the disciples here is Andrew (John 1:40). However, it is more likely that the other one is John. It is a habit of John to conceal his name in his writings.
John the Baptizer, when seeing Christ, exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God” (verse 36). And when the two disciples heard it, “they followed Jesus” (John 1:37).
God has sent prophets, teachers, pastors, and ministers to help us in our Christian walk. However, sometimes, we tend to look at the person rather than the Person whom he represents. Thus, it is not difficult to see why a lot of people follow their human leaders more than following God.
The good thing about John the Baptist is that he directed his followers to Christ. He is not afraid to lose a following.
In turn, John and Andrew were quick to follow the True Shepherd.
When it comes to choosing between God and man, I hope you would make the right decision of following God.
Lesson no. 6: Seek to develop a close relationship with God
The Apostle John is among the closest friends of Jesus Christ. This is evident when you read Mark 5:37; Matthew 17:1, Matthew 26:37, and Mark 13:3, among others.
Like John, we must constantly be on our feet to grab every opportunity to stay close to God and His Son, Yahshua. We can do this through prayer, bible study, meditation, and occasional fasting.
For John, it is not enough to be just part of Christ’s disciples. He knew that he can still go the extra mile. As a result, he was counted as the one whom Jesus loved (John 13:23). [Click to tweet]
The close relationship between Jesus and John is demonstrated on the night Christ was betrayed and the hours following his death.
We read in John 15:16:
“And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.”
In this point, all other disciples had deserted their Master. However, moments later, Peter would also forsake Christ, leaving John as the only disciple who has not left Him. John was even present during the crucifixion of Christ.
As Christians, we are not called to be only followers of Christ when things are going smoothly. Like John, we must always be ready to stick with God even if things are getting rough. John knew very well that he could also have lost his life following Yahshua, but he still chose to stay by His side until his death!
We can see now that following Christ can be a matter of life and death. When that happens, our close relationship with God and His Son will see us through. It will give us the necessary strength to stay during the storm and give us more reason to keep the faith.
Lesson no. 7: We must be always ready when Christ gives us new tasks
Mary and John were present during the crucifixion of Christ. We read of this incident in John 19:26-27:
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus, therefore, saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
John’s response was clear and decisive. He didn’t hesitate nor procrastinate. The account tells us, “from that hour” he started taking care of Mary.
When God tells us to do something, we must be ready to accept that job and give all our best to accomplish it. Whether God is telling you to preach the Gospel or simply become a light to your community, you must always be on your feet.
Lesson no. 8: Difficulties are a normal part of the Christian life
John, who was known to be a close companion of Jesus and a zealous Apostle, was no stranger to many afflictions and struggles. Being a Christian in this hostile world isn’t easy. Facing trials in this life is not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
John, because of his dedication to the work of God, was exiled in the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9) where he received the vision of Book of Revelation. Yes, sometimes, doing the right thing does not necessarily mean that you will have a good life. On the contrary, it sometimes brings you under the shadow of death.
However, this did not stop John from following the will of God. He followed God’s commandment to his very last breath.
As Christians today, it is true that we will face persecution. We are called to do a work greater than any work in this world. We must persevere because, at the end of it all, we will receive our reward from God – a reward that is so great and marvelous that even our mind can’t comprehend it.
So, keep going. Be steadfast in the faith and time will come, you will reap God’s blessings.
Lesson no. 9: Continue in doing the work of God
For John, it is easier to stay focused on the work of God when they were still physically with Christ. However, this has all changed when Christ was killed and there seemed to be no hope left.
When he first heard that Christ has risen, he quickly ran to his tomb and confirmed that Christ wasn’t in the cave anymore. He saw the risen Christ and immediately was persuaded that they are indeed serving the very Son of God.
The transformation of John was phenomenal. He and the rest of the disciples turned into bold, courageous, and dedicated servants of God – far from what they were before; scared, hopeless, and depressed.
So many thought that after Christ’s death, everything has ended. They thought that they don’t have work to do anymore. However, having the knowledge that Christ was indeed brought to life again made all the difference.
John, after Christ’s resurrection, continued to do the work of God. He helped in establishing the first church in Jerusalem. He also served church groups in Asia minor and Ephesus. He even wrote five books of the Bible!
Truly, this should also inspire us. The resurrection of Christ is a proven fact to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Since Christ has risen, we have the confidence that all He has taught and promised are true and faithful. Having this knowledge should behoove us in continuing the work of God.
(Be sure to read, “How to easily prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”)
Lesson no. 10: We must have godly love
The Apostle John is a great example of a person who exhibited godly love. Among the disciples of Christ, it is John who has focused more on God’s love and the love we ought to show with one another.
If you recall, John is not like this before. Because of his flaring temper and sometimes, misplaced zeal, he was nicknamed son of thunder. He wanted to call down fire from heaven onto a Samaritan village. He forbade other people to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons. And I’m sure that there are other instances where John’s temper got the best of him.
However, a great change in his life occurred. Living closely with Jesus, hearing him speak of godly love, watching Him practice what true love is, John eventually learned what it really takes to have godly love.
In his first epistle, John helps us understand what love is. We read:
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3).
John knew very well that God’s commandments and laws are not there to punish or restrict our freedom. No, far be it. In reality, it is the way God communicates His love to us. When we keep God’s commandments, we feel God’s love because it preserves us from evil. Keeping the commandments of God holds the key to a life of joy, peace, and happiness!
Notice what else John speaks about godly love:
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us (I John 4:18).
John explains that true love should cast out fear in your life. If you have fear, you can get rid of it by filling your life with love.
One of the most popular verses in the Bible is also found in the Gospel of John. And guess what? It talks about God’s love:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Even in the last book of the Bible whose author is the Apostle John, you can still see the love of God written all over its pages.
In the first chapter of Revelation we read:
And from Jesus Christ, the true witness, the first to come back from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who had love for us and has made us clean from our sins by his blood (Revelation 1:5).
Yes, the book of Revelation could be about the grim future of this world, but it also shows that at the end of it all, God will reign victorious and for this, LOVE ultimately WINS!
When we study the life of John, we understand what love truly is. We must learn from John, the beloved of Christ, how to love God and one another.
Learn and apply the lessons from the Apostle John
John is among the most popular disciples of Christ and it is not surprising that there are a lot of things we can learn from his life. What you just read isn’t a complete list, but it sure gives you a good idea of John’s life.
I hope you learned a lot from this blog and most importantly, apply these lessons in your life. If you believe that I missed anything, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’d love to hear about your thoughts! 🙂