Ron continues his “I Was There” series with a look at the love expressed by the disciple Jesus loved, the man who came to be known as the Apostle John. This series of posts recount the thoughts and actions of various individuals before and after the momentous happenings at Calvary. You can read the first post “I Was There – Mary Of Bethany” here.
Ron Hughes is the president of FBH International and has decades of experience in Christian mass communications. Recently Ron has overseen the launching of HopeStreamRadio, a Christian internet radio ministry. One of Ron’s passions is writing and he shares this passion with others on his program, “Author Interview.“
The Apostle John
John, the youngest of Jesus’ disciples and least experienced in the ways of life, kept his eyes open when he was thrust among this boisterous group of men. He appreciated the Master taking a genuine brotherly interest in him and treating him as a full member of the team.
John’s nearness to Jesus gave him a close-up look at what others saw only from a distance. As a member of Jesus’ inner circle, along with his brother James and Peter, John saw first-hand those occasions when soft words passed between the Master and some suffering one. John knew how readily His eyes brimmed with tears over the sin-caused-pain in the lives of those He had come to serve.
At The Passover
At the Passover supper that evening, John took his usual place to the right of Jesus. When the Master announced that one among them would betray Him. The disciples were shocked. John, as he loved to do at such moments, leaned back on Jesus and mouthed “Who is it, Lord?” In soft tones, inaudible to the other disciples, Jesus said: “He who dips in the dish with me.” John frowned. They had all been dipping into the dish with Jesus, sometimes exchanging tasty morsels as expressions of honour and affection. Then Jesus took a piece of bread with rich gravy and handed it to Judas. Words were exchanged between them and it seemed to John that the Lord had given Judas some personal mission and excused him to go fulfil it.
A New Ritual
Nothing changed in the tone of the celebration as they continued with the familiar Passover tradition. Then came the establishment of a new ritual meal. Jesus broke a fresh loaf of bread and poured wine into their cups declaring that from then on when the disciples ate bread and drank wine, they should remember Him in His death.
Death? Why did Jesus speak so often of death on this evening? And “going away.” What was that about? Had Jesus planned a journey? As the one closest to Jesus, he would have been the one to know of such a thing, but he was as unenlightened as the rest.
To The Mount Of Olives
Jesus led them in singing a hymn, concluding the Passover meal, then led them out toward the Eastern Gate leading to the Mount of Olives. He often spent time with them there. John hoped the conversation would take a positive turn for the rest of the evening. As they walked through the city, Jesus gave them a new teaching.
He explained that just as a grapevine has a trunk and branches, in their relationship, He was the trunk of the vine and they were the branches. As long as they remained connected to Him, they would be fruitful. John liked the image. He enjoyed being connected to the Master. He had learned so much about love in the last three years. Of course, he had known the love of his parents, family, and friends, but Jesus revealed God’s love. He spoke so often of God as their Father that it changed the way John thought of God.
John’s inner revery came to an abrupt stop when Jesus turned His comments, once again, to the fact that He intended to leave them. As He spoke, the disciples kept changing relative positions. Andrew fell into step beside John. “Do you know where Jesus is planning on going?”
John shrugged and Andrew dropped back. Before he knew it, Philip had joined him. He, too, had a question. “What does Jesus mean about going away for a little while?” This time John added a shake of his head to the shrug. He truly had no clue concerning either Jesus’ intentions, or what He was taking about.
Jesus, aware of the whispers, asked them, “Are you asking each other what I meant when I said that I was going away for a little while?” The disciples nodded, so Jesus offered some words of explanation. Words of explanation! What help were these? They left John as uncomprehending as he had been before. He consoled himself with the fact of Jesus’ love, even when he couldn’t understand His words.
After praying for them, Jesus seemed agitated as if some inner struggle tore at His soul. As soon as they reached the Gethsemane olive grove, He asked the disciples to sit and wait while He prayed, while indicating that Peter, James, and John should accompany Him. When they were out of earshot, He gave voice to the agitation John had observed, confessing that He was overwhelmed with sorrow—to the point of death. Then He asked the three to keep watch while He prayed.
They sat around the trunk of a large olive tree as Jesus walked a few more paces, then fell to His knees. Secure in the Master’s love, he leaned back. Weary of trying to work things out, John’s mind relaxed. His cloak offered comfortable warmth against the chill of the evening air. His stomach, filled with the Passover supper, diverted his energy to the task of digestion. His eyelids drooped, flickered a few times, then remained shut. Soon, his slow breathing joined the soft snores of the others.
Follow the “I Was There” Series
- Love Poured Out – Mary of Bethany
- Loved To Death – John the Apostle
- The Man In The Moonlight – Judas Iscariot
- When Fear Cast Out Love – Pontius Pilate
- How To Treat Your Enemies – Caiaphas the High Priest
- When Love Cast Out Fear – The Repentant Thief
- He Had Seen It All – The Roman Centurion
- One Last Time – Nicodemus
- Cold And Empty – Mary Madgalene
- You Know That I Love You – Simon Peter
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Images Courtesy of:
The Last Supper – Pascal Dagnan – Bouveret
Olive Trees In The Garden Of Gethsemane – Chad Rosenthal