Drawn to John the Baptist
On one of his Jerusalem pilgrimages as a young man, John, with Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, met John the Baptist who was preaching near the Jordan River, and they became his disciples. right: illustration of John the Baptist preaching, from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress
The sons of Zebedee the fisherman and the son of Zachary the priest were probably relatives, but they were not drawn together simply by ties of flesh and blood. The Baptist's words and way of life moved John deeply when they met. It was as if God's word were now suddenly alive in a holy man. The fiery preacher spoke of something great that was soon to happen. So John and Andrew stayed on with him in the dry lands beyond the Jordan.
There they met Jesus when John pointed him out to them, and they followed him back to Galilee to their own town of Capernaum.
The Disciple Jesus Loved
Each of his disciples remembered Jesus in a particular way, and so John's memories were distinctly his own. One memory he treasured above all: he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved."
From the time they met in the Jordan valley, John became one of Jesus' trusted friends. Along with his brother James and Simon Peter John was at Jesus' side through the most important events of his ministry. True, family ties bound them together - Jesus and John were probably cousins - but like his bond with the Baptist, John's relationship to Jesus came from a deeper source.
It may have been the reflective nature they shared. Of all Jesus' disciples, John was most likely to understand him. Not everything, to be sure. But John, listening and seeing the wonders Jesus did, saw a hint of something beyond, which could hardly be put into words.
As they visited the synagogues of Galilee and went as pilgrims to Jerusalem for the various feasts, the ancient texts and rites seemed to welcome the prophet as if they had been expecting him for years. In Jesus John saw God's word become flesh. And he wondered what it all meant.
The Gospels, however, reveal another side of John's character that Jesus knew too. The apostle and his brother James are described as "sons of thunder." Though reflective and deeply religious, John was also capable of sudden anger and bold ambition. Yet these faults did not prevent Jesus from loving him.
questions or comments about this page