Summary: This sermon was preached right after the Virginia Tech shootings. Aside from the apostle Paul, I don’t know if we see a greater change in anyone than John. He went from a "son of thunder" to one who said, "little children, let us love one another." It

As we continue through some of the smallest letters in the New Testament, we come to two of the letters written by the apostle John. But before we get to his writings, let¡¦s look at John, and how he was changed by Jesus.

John is thought by most to be the youngest of the disciples. I would imagine that in his BC state (before Christ) he had some self-centeredness. But then again, who doesn¡¦t? But toward the end of Jesus ministry we see it when he was plagued with a need to place self on the throne of significance.

In Matthew 20 Jesus is explaining what is going to happen in the next week. Even though his followers have been with Him for three years they still don¡¦t get it, so He explains some things it clear terms. Listen to what he says: Matthew 20:17-19

Jesus took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, [18] "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death [19] and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"

That is pretty clearly spelled out, don¡¦t you think? But they were still thinking earthly throne, political overthrow of Rome, put Israel back where it belongs. Even though he clearly said that he would be turned over to the Gentiles and crucified, they just didn¡¦t get it.

In fact, their understanding was so far off that John, along with his brother James, started to scramble for the best seats. (With the help of their mommy.) Matthew 20:20-21

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

Even her mannerisms as she approaches Jesus are like you would approach an earthly king. But she is asking for a blank check.

[21] "What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."

They could sense the end was coming and they wanted the best places, the highest honor, they wanted to be the main men. Think about that, they have just been told that Jesus is going to be crucified and they ask for the left and right seats. Those ¡§seats¡¨ did end up being occupied, but I don¡¦t think there was a long line wanting those ¡§seats.¡¨ Two thieves received them.

But what I wanted you to see there in John was the selfishness of asking for the best seats, the most honored positions. Even this close to the crucifixion, John was selfish, just like you and me!

But there was another more telling moment for John. In fact, this was a defining moment. This moment defined his attitude and life before he grasped what Christ was all about.

In Luke 9 John feels threatened. Luke 9:49-56

"Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."

This guy wasn¡¦t part of the club, he wasn¡¦t doing it right, and John thought it should stop. Surely it would be easy to enlist Jesus¡¦ help, but Jesus said,

[50] "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."

In the next verse in Luke 9 we read of this account.

[51] As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. [52] And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; [53] but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. [54] When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" [55] But Jesus turned and rebuked them, [56] and they went to another village.

Granted, these were Samaritans. But calling down fire to destroy them is a little drastic. Many believe it is because of this suggestion to call down fire that John and James receive their nick name, The Sons of Thunder. It was the defining moment in John¡¦s life BC. Let¡¦s burn the place up! Let¡¦s show our power and what¡¦s coming to the rest of the world if they don¡¦t get out of our way. He has a mafia mentality and he¡¦s going to be in charge of the world.

So remember that man, that son of thunder calling down fire from heaven as we fast forward to almost 60 years later, that same man writes this: 1 John 3:11

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