- 2Tim 2:2… everything you have seen and heard, entrust to reliable men and women who will then pass it on to others
- Hebrews 6:12 says..We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
John was probably the youngest of the disciples. We think he was about 16 years old when Jesus called him to follow him as a disciple. He was the younger brother of James, the son of Zebedee and had two nick-names given him by history. One was the “son of thunder” (Mark 3:17), which was either due to his explosive temperaments, speech or ambition and the other label was interestingly “the one Jesus loved” which was actually a bit of self-promotion since John wrote it in the gospel of John after many of the disciples had already died a martyrs death!
In scripture, John is most known for asking Jesus if he should call down fire from heaven in (Luke 9:54), asking Jesus if could sit on either side of Jesus’ throne in heaven being asked by Jesus to care of Mary, his mother (John 19:26–27), racing Peter in to an empty tomb (John 20:2–9), in which he won the race, being a “pillar” of the church (Galatians 2:9), and authoring 5 books of the New Testament, 4 that carry his name and the last book of Revelation.
While all of those are laudable achievements for anyone, the one that might be most noteworthy isn’t found in scripture, but rather is from church history.
John lived to nearly the turn of the first century. During his life he had two notable disciples which chartered the course of the early church; Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna. Both Ignatius and Polycarp were pastors of their churches, and both churches thrived. Both of these proteges of John had such a deep love for their Lord Jesus that when it came to denying Christ or death, both chose death.
Ignatius was thrown to the lions in the coliseum of Rome. He convinced the guards that were assigned to escort him to Rome to go overland instead of by ship due to his advanced age. At each of the 6 cities they passed through he was able to meet with the church leaders and gave them letters he personally wrote to the congregations to remain faithful in the midst of persecution.
At 86, a Roman proconsul urged Polycarp to deny Christ and live out his life in peace. This disciple of John chose to be burned at the stake and as he was being set on fire declared… “Eighty-six years I have served him and he never did me wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Bring forth what thou wilt.”
Both these disciples of John gave their lives for Christ. Both entrusted to reliable men and women what they had learned from John to others. The chain of discipleship continued from Jesus, to John, to Ignatius and Polycarp to others which eventually passed it on to you and me. May we likewise imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised and pass on a reliable witness of our Lord Jesus to those who follow us in this life.
“Dear Lord Jesus, may I live a life worthy of the calling I have received and may I renew my witness in the lives of those you have put in my life. Help me to encourage them and live a life that declares the truth of your kingdom. May they see Jesus in me so that by word and deed, faith may be passed on to those yet to come. Amen!”