Summary: When John wrote his Gospel the other three were already written and well known. They are so negative on John that he probably thought there was little he could add, so he ignores himself all together in his own Gospel.
A farmer in Georgia was sitting on the porch of his
tumble-down shack. He was ragged and barefoot when a stranger
stopped for a drink of water. Wishing to be agreeable, the
stranger said, "How was your cotton coming on?" "Ain't got
none," replied the farmer. "Didn't you plant any?" asked the
stranger. "Nope, fraid of boll weevils." "Well," said the
stranger, "How is your corn?" "Didn't plant none. Fraid there
wa'nt going to be no rain," came the reply. The stranger confused
but persevering asked, "Well, how are your potatos?" "Ain't got
none, scart o' potato bugs." "Really, what did you plant," asked
the astonished visitor. "Nothin," said the farmer. "I just played it
Most people do not play it that safe, but most people are afraid
to take a chance, especially on people. We fear to risk putting our
trust in others because we know how weak and fallible people are.
Jesus knew this better than anyone, but He took great chances,
and put His trust in men who are very risky candidates for
Apostles. Jesus wanted to play it safe, He never would have
chosen John the younger son of Zebedee. John was not just
potential trouble, he was actual trouble. There are more negative
characteristics of John in the New Testament than any of the 12,
and yet he became the great Apostle of love.
John could be called the Apostle who experienced the greatest
change, for he went from the most proud, arrogant, intolerant,
and narrow-minded of the 12, to the most loving man whose
writings have done more to spread love than any other man in
history. John is a good example of the fact that Jesus did not
choose men for what they were, but for what they could become.
Before we see what John became by the grace of God, let's look at
the negatives we have on him in the synoptic Gospels. There are
no negative facts about John in his own Gospel, for John, though
he was a partner with Peter all his life almost, was a different
character from Peter. John did not bring out his errors like Peter
did. Peter told of his blunders, but John would rather forget
When John wrote his Gospel the other three were already
written and well known. They are so negative on John that he
probably thought there was little he could add, so he ignores
himself all together in his own Gospel. He never even mentions his
own name. In only 6 places is he even referred to. In three of the
six he is called, "This man," "That disciple," and "The disciple
who testified these things." In the other three he is "The disciple
whom Jesus loved." He has that very positive distinction, but
let's look at him in the other Gospels.
In Luke 9, for example, we get quite a glimpse into John. In
verse 46 he and the others are arguing as to who is the greatest.
We know John thought he was the best of all, or at least second
best, for as we shall see later, he had the audacity to ask Jesus for
a place at his right or left in the kingdom. In verse 49 we see John
demonstrating his intolerance. He said to Jesus that he saw a man
casting out demons in his name, and he forbid him to do so
because he did not follow with them. John cannot take all the
blame, for the others, no doubt, felt the same. The point is, we see
John as ideal material for becoming a zealous bigot. He would
have made Christianity so exclusive and narrow that it would have
been horrible to disagree with him. He would be
excommunicating or executing all over the place.
The proof of this in the next paragraph. The Samaritans did
not like the Jews, and when they knew Jesus was heading for
Jerusalem they refused to give He and His disciples any
hospitality. This burned John and his brother James, and his
tornado like temper wanted to blow. John is a victim of prejudice,
and he wanted to burn the place down. He said to Jesus, "Do you
want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?"
This was John's solution to the problem of prejudice and social
injustice at this stage of his life. Later in the book of Acts we see
him with Peter going to the Samaritans and laying hands on them,
and seeing them filled with the Holy Spirit. John praying down
the fire from heaven to bless the very people he first longed to see
consumed by the fire of wrath.
Some ancient authorities add, "As Elijah did," in verse 54.
John thought he had a Biblical basis for his bad temper. Just