From Hothead To Beloved


‘Teacher,’ said John, ‘we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop because he was not one of us.’

‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah, will not lose his reward (Mark 9: 38-41).  

John – Boanerges. Son of thunder! Hothead! Together with his brother James, John certainly earned the nickname. Without consulting the Master he, together with the other disciples, poured cold water on a would-be disciple of Jesus who was casting out demons in His name. John was not going to have any Tom, Dick or Harry do what they, the disciples exclusively were appointed to do! After all, they were the chosen ones. They were “in” and everyone else was “out” and they were not about to let any outsider in on their privileges.

How one earth did John change from being a hothead to calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved”? Did Jesus love him more than the other disciples? Was he the favourite out of all the others? That’s not what he claimed. By using this description of himself, he did not say that Jesus loved him more than the others. All he knew was that Jesus loved him.

What was even more amazing was that not only did John’s nickname change but also his disposition. From hothead, he became the disciple of love. One only has to read his letters to realise that this was no hothead speaking. In his years with Jesus something profound happened inside him. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent on the Day of Pentecost to be His own presence in His people, radically changed John. How is it possible that a person’s character and disposition, inborn and formed during his childhood, could be so transformed the he was no longer the same person?

There is only one answer – the power of God working within. People can change for a little while if they have a mind to, but it is usually only cosmetic. They will revert to their old disposition when the pressure is on. But not John. And not anyone who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and is determined to follow Jesus.

God created the first man in His image. He put His stamp of ownership on him by making him like Himself. Humans are the only creatures who have the capacity to be one with Him by choice because that’s how He made them to be. The rest of creation was also created to be one. However, unlike man, it functions by instinct, not by choice. Natural creation was also affected by the Fall and is out of harmony because of sin.

God has promised that all of creation will be restored to its original purpose when Jesus returns. In the meantime, He is at work in those who believe in Him, who have His Spirit in them and who are submitted to Him.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Rom. 8: 28-29).

How does this happen? It will happen to us as it happened to John and to the other disciples.

And we all who, with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3: 18).

John could not watch, listen to and follow Jesus for three years and be loved by Him, and then be invaded by the Holy Spirit without being changed by His love. Neither can we. The secret of transformation lies in our contemplation of the Master. That is the purpose of worship. We become like the thing we worship. Gaze at the world and what the world says and does and we will embrace the world’s standards and behave like the world. Keep gazing at Jesus and we will become like Him.

John was transformed from Boanerges to “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” When we realise in the depth of our hearts how great is the love of God for us, we will be transformed, just as he was into those who know that we are deeply loved by God. .

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Luella Campbell

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