If you’ve had preschoolers in the last thirty years you probably know way too many Sesame Street songs; like this one: “One of these things is not like the others. One of these things doesn’t belong.”
If you had to, could you tell me which one of these four is not like the others?
If you guessed John, you’re right! You get to eat a big bird for Thanksgiving!!
Not this one:
Seriously, Matthew, Mark, and Luke described many of the same events from their own unique perspectives. Their writings became viral, offering readers insight into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. However, John’s account of Jesus’ life was different in both style and content. It also came later – much later. Time allowed John to graduate from being one of the passionate Sons of Thunder, begging to call down heavenly fire on the unbelieving Samaritans, to the compassionate apostle of love. He gives people like me hope. I’ve been known to voice my displeasure with people who don’t value my beliefs. Those conversations never turned out well. I understand the sentiment behind John’s only recorded spoken words found in Mark 9:38: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Neither pride nor arrogance age well. John lived well into his 90’s in Ephesus. Age, experience, and reflection changed him, and it showed in his writing.
John’s transformation began at the feet of Jesus, but he also benefitted from time spent with the much older Peter. I guess you could say one man’s redemption breeds another man’s transformation. Perhaps, their age discrepancy showed in Acts 4 when both were jailed for preaching about the resurrection. Before releasing them, the Sanhedrin ordered them to stop their preaching. However, Peter and John refused to be silent and were detained once again. We aren’t told who said what, just that they both replied. It makes sense to me that it was the older Peter who offered calm reasoning by asking, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!” Then perhaps, it was the youthful, uncontainable zeal of John, raising a fist in the air, who added, “As for us we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
By the time John wrote his gospel story, his own priorities were crystal clear. He used no parables and recounted few miracles to give testimony to the deity of Jesus. John’s own life had become a parable. He slowly transformed from one wanting to sit at the right hand of Jesus to one who humbly refused to even mention his own name when he wrote. He lived long enough after Jesus’ resurrection to see potholes forming in the faith of believers who doubted that Jesus really was who He had claimed to be. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit gave John a futuristic glimpse of the doubts you and I sometimes have causing his pen to move a little quicker. More than anything, he sought to provide proof of what a greater love can do.
If you’ve not read John’s book yet, spend some time with this old guy during the Thanksgiving holiday. Be grateful for a God who so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Yes, one of these gospels is not like the others, but ALL of us can belong to the God who first loved us!