TODAY’S READING: JOHN 11-14
OVERVIEW: The raising of Lazarus (11:1-46); the Pharisees’ plot to kill Jesus (11:47-57); Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet (12:1-11); the triumphal entry (12:12-19); Jesus’ answer to the Greeks (12:20-50); Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (13:1-17); Jesus foretells His betrayal, His death, and His second coming (13:18-14:14); Jesus promises the coming of the Holy Spirit (14:15-31).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
As has been mentioned, and as you have no doubt already noticed, the Gospel of John is the most unique of all of the Gospels. It is unique for numerous reasons, but perhaps the main reason for its uniqueness has not yet been mentioned: its unique author. As far as Jesus’ disciples are concerned, John is in a category all to himself.
John is, without a doubt, the greatest picture or illustration of what a Christian should be in the entire New Testament. As Jesus begins His ministry and calls the Twelve, what soon becomes evident is that out of all the disciples, John is going to be:
•A UNIQUE FOLLOWER.
As Jesus calls the Twelve, it is interesting to observe that in a loose sense, they actually picture and represent all of Christianity. There are things that were true about that group that have been true of every group of believers who have ever gathered together.
You see, of the Twelve, there was one that made the same claim as all of the others. He looked like a Christian. He knew how to speak Christianese. He knew how to present himself as a Christian. The only problem was that he had never genuinely been saved. Of course, that was Judas. Perhaps that same ratio exists in the church today. Maybe one out of twelve have a “profession” of salvation, but no real “possession.”
Then, of the rest of the eleven, there were eight. And these guys were saved, and just really “good folk.” They attended the meetings of the assembly. They sang the songs; they gave their offerings, and were a part of the activities. But that’s about as far as it went. They were just kind of satisfied with being “average.” I think most pastors would tell you that just like the disciples, that description fits about two-thirds (8 out of 12) of their congregation.
But then there were the three. There were three of the disciples that couldn’t be satisfied with the status quo. There were three who had a more intimate relationship with the Lord than all of the others. Of course, they were Peter, James and John. They witnessed greater miracles than the others (Matt. 17:1; Luke 9:28; Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51). The Lord revealed to them what He revealed to no one else (Mark 13:3). He shared more of His heart with them than He did the others (Mark 14:32-34). All the way throughout Jesus’ ministry, they were just more in tune with the Lord. There is that same 25 percent in churches today. While it seems others are just passively walking through life, they’re walking with their eyes fixed on things which cannot be seen (II Cor. 4:18). They walk up mountains with the Lord, and He reveals to them His glory (Matt. 17:1-8). They go further than everyone else (Mark 14:32-33).
And yet, even out of those three, there’s that one that goes even further! And that, of course was John. John is an incredible picture of somebody who goes all the way with Christ. At the crucifixion, Judas had already done his thing. James is gone. Peter is following afar off (Luke 22:54). All of the disciples have scattered (John 16:32). All except one. You know where you find John at the crucifixion? He’s right where He’s supposed to be! He’s at the cross, at the feet of Jesus (John 19:26). Man, what a unique follower! The only one who followed Jesus all the way. Are you that one out of twelve?
And secondly, God has for this “unique follower,”
•A UNIQUE TITLE.
On six different occasions when the Bible is making reference to John, when it could have very easily simply said “John,” the Holy Spirit inspired it to be written, the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” It is a phrase not used of any of the other disciples. Didn’t Jesus love them? Certainly He did. But Jesus had a very special love for John. And do you know why Jesus had such a special love for John? It was because John had a very special love for Jesus! John is a great example of what it is to love Jesus with all of your heart. And that love for Jesus gave John something else:
•A UNIQUE CONFIDENCE.
In the upper room with His disciples when Jesus revealed that one of the Twelve would betray Him, Matthew 26:22 says they “began every one of them to say unto him, Lord is it I?” All of them except John. John 13:25 says that John’s question was, “Lord, who is it?” John may not have had enough spiritual discernment to figure out which one would betray Him, but there was one thing he knew for sure. It wasn’t going to be him!
But there is at least one other thing that makes John more unique than perhaps any other person in the Bible, and that is that John had:
•A UNIQUE PRIVILEGE.
In fact, John had the privilege of privileges! John 13:25 says that in the upper room the night before Jesus was crucified, he had the unbelievable privilege of laying his head on “Jesus’ breast.” And do you realize Whose breast that actually is? It is God in human flesh! Here is John with his head on Jesus’ breast, as he listens to the very heartbeat of God!
That may sound like an over-spiritualization, or you may think it is dramatizing the point, and yet the fact is, the problem we face in Christianity today is that we don’t have our head on “Jesus’ breast”! Because we don’t, we don’t hear the heartbeat of God!
Most Christians are so in love with themselves (II Tim. 3:2), they hear and know their own heartbeat. Most Christians are so preoccupied with people’s opinion of them, they definitely hear and know the heartbeat of others (I Cor. 4:3). Most Christians are so engulfed in the world and enamored with the things of this world, they hear and know the heartbeat of the world. But realize today, that the Book you hold in your own two hands today, is God’s heartbeat (John 1:1, 14). Through it, lay your head on Jesus’ breast, and listen today with John (John 13:25), to the very heartbeat of God!