“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Encountering Jesus changes lives. You cannot be the same once you come to know the Savior. John was truly transformed by the Son of God. When Jesus called John and his brother James to follow him, they left behind their fishing boat and nets immediately (Matt.4:21-22). However, they did not leave behind their attitudes and habits, at least not initially. As Jesus was preparing to go to Jerusalem to be offered for the sins of the world, he, along with the twelve, passed through Samaria. The Samaritans refused to receive him (Luke 9:53), and for this slight, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the offenders (Luke 9:54). Jesus rebuked these hot-headed brothers for their vengeful spirit, pointing out that the Son of man had come to save lives, not destroy them (Luke 9:55-56). Because Jesus knows every thought of the hearts of men (John 2:25), he knew the temperament of these brothers and how they would react until such time as their lives would be transformed by the power of the gospel. He would rename them Boanerges, meaning “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), likely referring to their unstable, fiery tempers. But this is not how we generally remember John. To most of us who study the Scriptures, John is the apostle of love. He had much to say about love in his writings. Think of how often he speaks about God’s love for us. “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He encourages us to love one another based upon the fact that God loves us so much. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11). He reminds us that love for one another is the proof that we have passed from eternal death to eternal life: “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loves not his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). How did a rough, tough, (likely) hard-living fisherman become a tender-hearted, loving, compassionate proclaimer of truth? He encountered Jesus, and that made all of the difference in his life!
“Gracious Father, thank you for sending Jesus so that our lives might be transformed by him. Thank you for your longsuffering as we so often fail to change our lives as you would have us to do. Help us show to the world that we have been with Jesus. Through him we pray. Amen.”