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John, the Son of Thunder
Witnessing Tools
Thursday, December 01, 2016
J.L. Robb

Did Jesus play favorites with his original 12 Disciples? Apparently 11 of them thought so, along with many others.

Of all the 12 original apostles to Jesus the Christ, why was John, son of Zebedee, chosen to be the writer of the Book of Revelation, the end of the greatest of all plays? Why was John the Apostle the only one of 12 who was not killed as a martyr? How special would his character have to be for him to be chosen of the 12 to write and witness to all of mankind, how the “end of things” will be? Why John?

John was described by his peers and others as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He is the only one praised with this reference, and the other 11 couldn’t have been happy.

John and his brother James were known as the sons of thunder. Though Jesus never states why he called them this, many scholars believe it was because of their bad tempers and eagerness to enter the fight. John was especially assertive.

James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), (Mark 3:17 NIV)

John’s gospel is significantly different than the first three, Matthew, Mark and Luke and mentions several more miracles that Jesus performed, amazing the large crowds. Here are the Magnificent Seven:

John wrote and spoke more than any other Apostle about the awesome supernatural characteristics of Jesus and referred to Him as the Son of God. John is the apostle who directly asked Jesus if he could be His right-hand man in heaven. That would be a natural desire, and John went directly to the decision-maker.

John the Apostle is credited with writing five books of the New Testament, more than any of the original 12: Gospel of John, three Epistles (John 1, 2 and 3) and The Book of Revelation, arguably the most important and least read book of the entire Bible.

What kind of character did John have that God would have chosen him among all men to write the most important book of the Bible, a book many churches ignore or give minimal lip-service?

John obviously had some great characteristics. He was assertive, a son of thunder. He was loyal, always telling others about the awesomeness of Jesus. He was a teacher who eagerly taught the Greeks about the Jewish holy days and their importance to the culture of Israel. He was the only apostle with the loyalty and love for Jesus to risk his life and be at the crucifixion at the Cross of Christ, the Messiah who was long predicted to come, to be rejected by His own people the Jews, to be mocked, beaten and killed. And He was.

Did John have any bad characteristics? Scholars list his whininess to sit at Jesus’ right hand as a distinct flaw. I disagree. It was a great quality to be assertive enough to actually ask for what you want, directly to the Boss. Most people don’t get a raise if they don’t ask for it. John would have been the man in the parable who took an investment and turned it into a 1000% return. Was it selfish? Probably, but John knew the importance of the question.

The legend spread that Roman Emperor Domitian hated John so much, he had him thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. John miraculously survived and was then sentenced to a life of solitude on the Greek island of Patmos, not far from Turkey in the Aegean Sea. Whether the oil story is true is debatable and was first written by the historian Tertullian several decades later.

John was obviously a great and descriptive writer. His visions are spelled out plainly, though not so plain to see. It would have been a task to put into words what he was seeing. Some of his visions are probably happening today, in front of everyone’s eyes. The question is: Are we paying attention? Some are but most are not.

It takes an effort to read, study and begin to comprehend the significance of the Book of Revelation. It’s like losing weight or stopping smoking: You can’t wish it away, you have to make an effort. You have to be willing to study the ancient books of prophecy in order to understand John’s predictions for the future, our future.

The importance of studying the Book of Revelation is summarized in the very first paragraph of the book:

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Revelation 1:3 NIV)

Why John?

If the Bible was a play, the creation would have been the opening act. John’s Revelation would be the climax and the finale.

My guess is that John was chosen to write the Finale because he was the Apostle who truly loved Jesus, enough so that he didn’t run and try to figure out an escape plan in order to disassociate himself from Jesus like the others were doing in fear. Jesus saw John, the lone disciple, standing at the foot of His cross. The others were nowhere to be seen. That had to be a great disappointment to Jesus, though He predicted such.

For whatever reason John was chosen by God to be the messenger and emissary of the final act, he did a great job. It is the ending of the greatest love story mankind has ever known, the ultimate win of good over evil and a new world without evil influence, without sickness, without heartbreak, without death.

That’s what it says and you can read John’s last book here.

Orginally written: November 14, 2013

About J.L. Robb

Last week: I'm Glad It's Still Thanksgiving



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