Thursday, December 27, 2012

What Changes Us?, Part 3

In studying the biblical letter, 1 John, I began wondering how the Apostle John turned from what appears to be a rather immature guy into a godly man who would write a powerful Gospel account, key letters, and a phenomenal Revelation, all while being a key leader in his early, local church. Through his ministry and Scriptures, John still speaks and still leads.

So what changed him? We looked at some key events here and here. Although many things happened to John that changed him, this final part includes the last two that I'll mention for now.

John observed the agony of Jesus.

John witnessed the suffering of Jesus. He was actually there. When we view movies that depict Christ's death, few even come close to showing what that kind of deep agony must have been. We sometimes forget that Jesus suffered even in the garden of Gethsemane. He suffered as He talked with his Father about what would soon happen. So much so that it was as if He were sweating blood. It was intense. And John was there.

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.” (Mark 14.32-34, HCSB)

They were so exhausted that they eventually fell asleep. But they would not forget this dramatic event that changed them. Don't you think that would have changed you?

John took responsibility for the family of Jesus.

In a sweet gesture just before His death, Jesus wanted to ensure care for His widowed mother. So in one act of love, He took care of His mom and at the same time brought John into the family. Jesus was of course the firstborn among His brothers. Why He did not at some point assign the care of His mother to the next oldest brother is a mystery to me. Perhaps it was because John was maturing. He was changing. And Jesus trusted him. In this remarkable move, from the cross, He accomplished so much. Here is the story:

Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19.25-27, HCSB)

That final sentence says so much. John completed his assignment well. From that day forward, he knew that Jesus had entrusted the care of His mom to him, and he faithfully provided care. Don't you think that would have changed you?

In both of these instances, and all of the others we have seen, it is a sweet reminder for me to see all that happened to John the Apostle in changing him.

But then I remember that in various ways, these things have happened to you and me as well. I've come to a point of belief in Jesus through a personal encounter. I've seen, in some ways, the supernatural power of God at work. I've been appointed by Jesus in a special connection. I've come to appreciate the approval of Jesus by God the Father. I've come to understand the suffering of Jesus. And Jesus has brought me into His family. In a spiritual way, I've experienced these episodes just like John.

And so have you.

And when it's real, it changes us.