Wednesday, December 27, 2006

John the Beloved Disciple


"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" -John 1:1

Born in Galilee, c. 6 AD; died c. 104; feast day in the Eastern Church is September 26.

John, the "beloved disciple" of our Lord (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2ff; 21:7; 21:24), is said to have written the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, while exiled on the island of Patmos off the coast of modern Turkey.

His book is a superb conclusion to the Holy Scripture. The book of Genesis begins the account of man's spiritual odyssey by describing our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The Book of Revelation is a vision of encouragement to await our restoration to Paradise.

John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the younger brother of James the Great. These two brothers earned their livelihood as fishermen on Lake Genesareth until they were called by Jesus to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20). The youngest of the Apostles (estimated at about 25 at the time of his call), John, seems to have been a follower of John the Baptist, so particularly does he relate all the circumstances of the precursor's life, yet through modesty conceals his own name, as in other parts of the Gospel bearing his name.

Christ gave James and John the surname of "Boanerges"--The Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17)--to express their passionate natures. They wanted to call down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans who rejected Christ (Luke 9:54-56) and they said they were willing to suffer as witnesses to Jesus' suffering (Mark 10:35-41). This holy boldness would benefit the faith by allowing them to make the law of God known without fearing the power of men.

Why was John beloved of Christ? First, the love that John bore Him, then his general meekness and peaceable disposition that made him very much like Our Lord himself, and his singular privilege of chastity, his virginal purity rendered him worthy of this more particular love.

Saint Augustine says, "He was chosen by our Lord, a virgin, and he always remained such." Augustine also wrote, "Christ was pleased to choose a virgin for his mother, a virgin for his precursor, and a virgin for his favorite disciple. His church suffers only those who live perfectly chaste to serve Him in His priesthood, where they daily touch and offer His virginal flesh upon the altar."

That John was one of those closest to Jesus is demonstrated by the fact that only he, Peter, and James were present at such events as the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31), the raising of Jairus's daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:40-56), and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37ff; Mark 14:33ff). For this reason, Saint Paul names John, Peter, and James as "these leaders, these pillars" of the Church in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9).

here. Image from here.


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