If you were going to choose the apostle who was most radically changed by the ministry of Jesus, I think most people would say that would be Paul. He went from being Saul, persecutor of the church, to Paul, missionary, preacher of the gospel, writer on one third of the New Testament. An impressive reversal. But I wouldn’t choose Paul. I would say John was the most radically changed of all the apostles.
Jesus called James and John sons of thunder. They were the angry young men of their day. Revolutionaries. They wanted to call fire from heaven down on those who would not feed them. They were ambitious. They wanted to sit on Jesus’ right and left when He was elevated to His throne.
But John was changed, radically changed. Matthew’s gospel was about the Jewish Christ of Old Testament prophecy. Mark’s Christ was the Romanesque, make things happen Jesus. Luke’s was the Son of Man. But when we are asked where someone should start to read the Bible we say read the gospel of John.
The gospel of John captures the essence of Christ, the aura of Jesus. It is touchy feely. Those three chapters near the end, the last supper, captures the Jesus who was personal, who was friend, who was love. John wrote his epistles and they can be summed up in three words. ‘God is Love’.
John was radically changed by Jesus and when he decided to write about how it had happened he didn’t write about Jesus’ oratory skills or His charisma or His teaching ability. He wrote about His love. At the end of that last supper he called himself ‘the one whom Jesus loved’.
So how do we reach people with the gospel? Do we depend on speaking ability or charisma or compelling arguments? Do we grasp for power, for authority, for influence? Do we call down fire from heaven on those would would hinder us? Boycott, march, blog and Facebook? Maybe there’s a better way.
Maybe we are most powerful, most dangerous when we lay down or weapons, when we make ourselves vulnerable, when we love, when we love God, love our neighbors, even love our enemies.