Rev. Ross L. Riggs, D. Min.
So very often it is difficult to look at the Bible’s authors and think about them as real people, every day kind of people like you and me just living in a different time and a different culture. If we could understand that they were regular, typical; (ok, perhaps a-typical) people that had days not all that different than ours, maybe we could see something new in what they have written. Ordinary people. The key is that they were ordinary people who were called to an extra0ordinary task and given the grace and power to do it by Christ, Himself. That is astounding, no doubt! But, I believe that to a man, each would tell you that they were just regular men who did not deserve anything along the way of the grace and power to perform miracles that they were given. We have understood from scripture that the gates of the heavenly city will bear the names of the Apostles so it is difficult to think of them as just some of the guys like we work with on a daily basis. Do you remember what the town’s people of Nazareth said when Christ was presented as the Messiah? They could not believe it! They said, isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James and Joses and to these sisters that have lived here with us all these years? After spending about thirty years working in his earthly dad’s carpenter shop, carrying on the family business, we assume after Joseph had died. The neighbors could not believe that the same regular guy who made their coffee table also created the universe! Should we be so critical of their inability to understand?
John, the apostle, was a fisherman with his brother. They made their living off of the hard, back-breaking work of fishing on the sea of Galilee every day with their father. Their mother Salome probably had to discipline them a great deal growing up. I’m sure as brothers they argued all the time. They were so often at each other that Jesus nick-named them Boanerges, the sons of thunder. Not only were they normal guys, they were Jesus’ cousins. Salome their mother was Mary’s sister. Yes, I know that the mother of John the Baptist, Elizabeth, was Mary’s aunt and that made Jesus and John the Baptist’s cousins also. But, Salome was Jesus’s earthly aunt. Can you imagine then when Salome came to Jesus, her nephew and asked if her sons, his cousins could sit with Jesus on His right and left int he kingdom? Remember, this is a lady that probably helped feed and change Jesus as an infant, watch His first mortal steps. We can imagine how that must have sat with the others who were disciples but not related? Regular men, regular people in anything but regular circumstances!
By the time that John, the brother of James; (the son of Zebedee and Salome), the first cousin of Christ was prepared to write 1 John, he had witnessed the most amazing events that the world will ever know. He had a front row, center seat to everything that Christ did; even in Jesus’ growing up years. He probably stood next to Jesus when Joseph was buried. (That is my redeemed imagination working there a bit… ) But John knew Jesus as well as any person on this earth could and John loved Jesus with every fiber of his being. At the last supper, as we have come to call it) John sat at the table leaning his head on Jesus’ chest. There is total love and willingness to do whatever Jesus asked of him; yet he ran away in the garden. Later in life he had overcome his timidity, if you can call it that. He faced beatings and threats against his life including a long difficult stay on a lonely rock called Patmos where God used that time to bring John to the point of being able to see and comprehend the revelations of the end times that John wrote in a book by the same name.
Do you remember Jesus’ words to John when Jesus was on the cross? He pointed out Mary, His own mother and told John “Behold your mother.” He told Mary to look upon John and said, “Behold your son.” It was Jesus’ way of making certain that John would care for Mary for the rest of her life. Jesus obviously knew that his brother James could do it; maybe Joses or maybe any of Jesus’ sisters; but, Jesus chose John to watch after His mother. John did just that. After he got off of Patmos, John returned to his home along the western coast of what is today Turkey in the area of Ephesus and kept Mary in his home with him, caring for her until her death. John was the only Apostle to live a long life into old age and I’m certain, knowing what Christ knew would unfold with Rome’s persecution, He allowed John’s destiny to include caring for Mary until her death.
Living through everything that John did, the hard things, the glorious things, the threatening and the painful things makes John’s testimony in 1 John chapter 5 absolutely beautiful. Let me share some of it with you here:
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which[c] He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,[d]and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
The clarity of what John writes makes it very understandable. God does not lie and God has said Jesus is His Son and that God gave us eternal life in His Son. Period. John writes, if you have the Son, you have life eternal and if you don’t have the Son then you are destined for hell.
The key point of this entire blog post can be summed up by the 13th verse of 1 John 5. It is in the quote there above but let me restate it here: These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW that you have eternal life… I added some emphasis there because you see, as regular guys, even if you are a girl reading this… as regular people in our everyday lives, life can be hard. We have struggles and disappointments, fears and battles – whether they are health or heaven knows what! (Heaven really does know and cares very much about all of them!) Life can also be, for you, at times great, wonderful and you will want to declare: Give me more of the same!
Throughout every single minute of every single day, you can KNOW that you have eternal life! If that doesn’t make you want to shout or dance or sing; then check your pulse because you must be dead already! In verse 14 John writes, and you can continue to believe. You see John understood that sometimes life gets its hits in and we struggle and maybe even begin to doubt. John is saying , I have seen it all and I have been through it all and THIS YOU CAN TRUST!
John’s whole purpose in writing is summed up with that simple phrase, ‘These things are written, so you may know!’
Venture forth into whatever 2016 has in store for you KNOWING that you have ETERNAL LIFE!
We are pleased that God is continuing to allow us to minister through our “True North Ministry” we hope that you will check in with our blog here from time to time and that, as we get back to updating our ministry website with True North you will check in in the mean time to http://www.riggs.abwe.org.
Mark 3:17, Matthew 20:20, John 19:25, Matthew 27:55-56, Mark 15:40-41, 1 John 5:13-14 NJKV https://www.biblegateway.com