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Summary: Study on the lives of the 12 Disciples

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12 Disciples – John – Monday 23rd October 06

John is the 4th disciple mentioned in Matthew 10:3

The name ‘John’ means “grace of the Lord”, or “Jehovah’s gift” John was the younger brother of James, son of Zebedee and Salome (we saw last week how some believe that Salome was Mary’s sister and therefore James and John were earthly cousins of the Lord)

1. Occupation & Call

John was a fisherman like his brother James. They worked with their father Zebedee. (Matthew 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father,)

When John the Baptist began his ministry John was one of his disciples along with Andrew. When Christ is pointed out as being “The Lamb of God” John and Andrew follow the Lord for a time (John 1:36 – 37) before returning to their fishing nets (how long is uncertain, John Phillips commentary – about 1 year) and then Jesus calls John to full time service (Mat 4:21; Luk 5:1 – 11)

2. Sons of Thunder

We saw a bit of the temperament of the brothers James and John last week and how the Lord called them “the Sons of Thunder” because they wanted to call down fire from Heaven on the unbelieving Samaritans.

In Luke 9:49 and Mark 9:38 we see John “the Son of Thunder” in action again. Jesus was still leading His disciples to Jerusalem, and as they went, He reminded them of what would happen to Him there. Even after they heard what Jesus had said about His own suffering and death, they carried on the dispute over which of them was the greatest! Perhaps the fact that Peter, James, and John had gone on the mount with Jesus had added some fuel to the fires of competition.

To teach them (and us) a lesson on honour, Jesus set a child before them and explained that the way to be first is to be last, and the way to be last is to be the servant of all. The unspoiled child is an example of submission and humility. Christ’s message is that greatness comes from our serving others.

At this point, John felt it necessary to defend the disciples (Mark 9:38-41) by pointing out their zeal. Imagine telling a man to stop casting out demons when the nine disciples had failed to deliver the deaf and dumb boy from Satan’s power! To use the name of Jesus is the same as working under His authority, so the men had no right to stop the man.

Mark 9:40 should be compared with Matthew 12:30, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” It is impossible to be neutral when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ. The anonymous exorcist was bringing glory to His name, so he had to be for the Saviour and not against Him.

Jesus did not treat John’s statement lightly; in fact, He went on to explain the danger of causing others to stumble and therefore stop serving the Lord (Mark 9:42-50). “These little ones” refers to all God’s children who follow Christ and seek to serve Him. The way believers treat others in the family of God is a serious thing, and God wants us to “have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50). The disciples did not get along with each other, nor did they get along with other believers!


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