Monday, December 10, 2012

What Changes Us?, Part 1

As we began a new series at our church about What We Know from the letter called 1 John, I began thinking about the dramatic changes that clearly took place in the Apostle John's life. This is the fellow who at one point asked Jesus if he could sit in authority next to Jesus once His kingdom was in place. And apparently on another occasion, John allowed his mom to go to bat for him and ask Jesus the same basic question.

What kind of mature man stands idly by while expecting (or at least allowing) his mother to ask a selfish question about a promotion?

But, John did ultimately mature. He became the man of God that would write a powerful Gospel account, key letters, and a phenomenal Revelation that would be talked about for centuries to come (and still is).

So I wanted to remind myself of some of the significant events and experiences that John had during his earlier days. There were several instances in John the Apostle’s life that must have altered the rest of his life. What changed him (and what changes us)?

I'm going to point out six events that shaped John. Here are the first two.

John came to a point of belief in Jesus through a personal encounter.

I've always been intrigued by the way the Gospels tell the story of the first disciples' initial steps of faith in Christ. They must have known who Jesus was. But when He encountered them, in person, something began to change inside them. They believed in Him.

Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed Him. (Matthew 4.21-22, HCSB)

Can you imagine what that must have been like? Jesus Himself called John to follow. And John did. Surely that personal encounter began to change John into the man he would later become. It must have been quite a feeling to have been directly and personally called by Jesus.

But then, aren't each of us directly and personally called by Jesus? Absolutely.

John saw firsthand the supernatural power of Jesus.

As the stories in the Gospels unfold, it is amazing to think about being there! But John didn't have to imagine it. He was there for some of the most significant miracles of Jesus. Here is one particular example.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told Him [Jesus] about her at once. So He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.
When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all those who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. The whole town was assembled at the door, and He healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. But He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him. (Mark 1.29-34, HCSB)

Then another time, John was present as Jesus raised from death a little girl. Very few got to see such a glorious sight. But look who was included:

After He came to the house, He let no one enter with Him except Peter, John, James, and the child’s father and mother. (Luke 8.51, HCSB)

It seems that the Apostle John was blessed to be able to witness in clear view many of the more well-known works of the Savior. He was there. And in some cases, he was given direct and special access. Certainly this up-close and privileged access to the supernatural work of Jesus would end up shaping John's life!

But then again, haven't there been times when you have seen God work in incredible ways? You may not have thought of them as miracles, but if it was God working in a specific way that you witnessed, didn't He grant special access? Absolutely.

To be continued.