St John the Apostle – Sermon 24

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ


So how are the celebrations going on?
Still in full swing?
– not eaten too much turkey I hope –

Well – today we have another festival day –
This year the first Sunday in Christmas falls on St. John’s day – and we – celebrate and give thanks to God – for the life and ministry of St John the Apostle and Evangelist –

Most of us know him as a great writer of words – his opening prologue in his Gospel has no parallel anywhere else in the Bible – but he was more than a good writer – he was "a doer" – a true "action man" – who lived the words he preached

through the evidence of the NT and our readings – we are going to look at what sort of man he was – his life – ministry and teachings – and what he has to say to us today –

Point 1 The man

John was the Son of Zebedee – a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee – they were reasonably well off – had hired servants to help with the family business – and it was at work – in a boat – with his brother James – that John saw Jesus and was called to be his disciple –

In Matt Gospel chp4 v 22 – it says –

"at once they left their nets and followed Him" –

through out his life John quickly obeyed Jesus – He called James and John "sons of thunder"- because of their zealous commitment to Him – and with Peter – they formed an inner threesome – singled out to be near to Jesus on important occasions in His earthly ministry –

it was Peter, James and John who were present in the house when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead

the same threesome went with Jesus up a mountain – to see Him transfigured in front of them – a scene of intense light and Glory – it was the appearance of Moses and Elijah – which led Peter to blurt out the need top build "a meeting tent" – similar to that described in our OT reading – before a cloud enveloped the scene – and God said to them –

" This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to Him

the transfiguration taught John and the others – that Jesus is superior in Glory and authority to Moses and the prophets – and the voice of God assured them that He was indeed the true Son of God – who needed to be heard – who was fulfilling a chosen path set by Him – and whose true glory would be hidden from the world for only a short time –

It was perhaps this revelation more than any that helped John in later writings – to put great emphasis on Christ’s Glory –

and it was that same threesome – that Jesus took aside with Him in the garden of Gethsemane – to reveal the depth of His distress and trouble before His arrest –

Jesus’ chosen path was to accept the sins of mankind on His shoulders – and to die on the cross – once and for all – so that through Jesus our sins can be forgiven – and we can be reconciled back to God – and have life through Him

In spite of John’s privileged position there was a lot he didn’t understand – one notable occasion was when he joined his brother – probably at the request of his mother Salome – to ask for seats of honour in the new Kingdom – and Jesus had to teach them that His kingdom was not like an earthly kingdom – that the Son of Man came to save – and not to rule over others

even so – this incident does tell us – that John’s faith had increased – the two brothers had understood correctly – that there would be a Glory – in which they would participate –

There was a special closeness between Jesus and John – which is mentioned in our Gospel reading – John is the "disciple who Jesus loved" – he reclined close to Jesus at their final meal together – and here Jesus indicates to Peter – that John has a place in the scheme of things

John has already obeyed and is following Him – he needs no further commands – Peter needed reminding – that we are not in competition with others – we are all in the service of Christ – in whatever capacity – Jesus has allotted to us – Jesus wants us to follow Him – He wants our personal commitment – to carry out whatever He asks of us –

Point 2  The ministry

There’s been a lot of debate about – which books of the NT – John has written – traditionally the Gospel and the Epistle were ascribed to him – but there has been much more uncertainty on his authorship of the book of revelation – because of its imagery and (apocal-lyp-tic) style – the book would have had to have been written towards the end of John’s life – during a period of intense persecution – on the island of Palmos – the equivalent of the American Alcatraz

The Gospel of John is different from the other gospels – covering only the 3 years of Jesus’ ministry – it focuses on seven signs or miracles specially selected because of what they taught about Jesus

John assumed his readers knew the basic facts – so instead – He gives us a complete picture of who Jesus is – where He came from – and where He is going

Jesus’ repeated reference to the "One who sent me" – and His "I am " sayings clearly show John’s intention – to tell others that He is the "Son of God

John’s Gospel also contrasts true faith – with what we might call human wisdom – on several occasions people took what Jesus said – at a material – and literal level – when He was actually – talking at a Spiritual level –

John also talked about the nature of eternal life – and above all – about what we need for faith – In every case John shows God – as the source of power in Christian life

The book of Acts tells us – its Peter and John who feature prominently in the early church – in the upper room and after the day of Pentecost – and in the early Apostolic miracles – Those first Christians must have made numerous comparisons between the two – but it was – Peter who was to shepherd His sheep – and John who was to witness the story of Christ – live to a great age and be able to say " I saw these things and know that they are true

John’s Epistles were written to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles – who were already Christians – to encourage them to have an assurance in their faith – He tackled the problem of false teachings – that were beginning to have an impact at the time – words were being twisted – formula phrases like "knowing God" and walking in the light" – were given distorted meanings – in his letters – John points us back to the truths behind the words –

– God is light – so we must walk in the light – He is Spirit – so we must worship Him in the proper Spirit – He is love – so we must demonstrate that love to others

John was probably the last surviving Apostle when he wrote this book – but he was not too old to fight vigorously against those who corrupted the faith that had inspired him for so many years –

Point 3  So what message does John have for us today

First and foremost – that Jesus was more than a great teacher – He is God Himself – that Jesus’ words were matched by His life – no one knew this better than John – he was with Him for many months of walking – talking – travelling and preaching – his verdict was that Jesus – is genuine –
he tells us that Jesus is life – and we must follow His light – without Jesus we remain in darkness – we must listen to what Jesus is telling us – through prayer – through reading our Bibles – our task is to simply trust and obey – if we believe in Him – He will – bring us to eternal life –

John teaches us the importance of truth – How it should affect our lives – In our new testament reading – John says that if we say one thing – and do another – we are lying – to God and to ourselves

One of the greatest discoveries we can make – is that the power of the Holy Spirit will flow into our lives when we learn the importance of confessing our sins – immediately – and ask Him for complete forgiveness – each day we fall into personal sin – sometimes without knowing it – and that sin leaves its marks

if we hammer a nail into the wall and then remove it – we are left with a hole

sin acts in the same way – it leaves scars – deep within us – and there is only one way to remove them – through the blood of Christ –

If we confess our dishonesty to God – we are forgiven and thoroughly cleansed – and our scars healed


Throughout John’s life and teaching – it is his personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is most impressive – Whether it was during the life of Jesus – or soon after Pentecost – during the persecutions – or later when he wrote his books – His earnest desire was to see people come to faith in Christ – and to continue to follow Jesus – in that faith and life – He longed for people to know the Jesus – that He had – known – heard – and touched

Both the Gospel and the book of revelation end with an appeal to come to faith – In his Gospel Chp 20 v 31 he writes

"Those written here have been recorded in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this faith you may have life by His name"

As we come to the end of this year – and look forward to the next – lets make a resolution to follow Christ – to respond to John’s appeal – and follow Jesus into a new beginning – to a life that doesn’t just stretch into the next century – but into eternity – and if we are prepared to do that – that certainly is something worth celebrating –

Prayer to finish

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit