Studying – A lesson from John
Two weeks ago, I began a Bible study with a large assembly of women through the Bible Study Fellowship organization. We will spend the entire school year studying the Gospel of John.
We’ve barely begun, but I am already processing new thoughts from the Bible book that was the most familiar one to me while growing up. Assuredly, there is much more to the gospel than “For God so loved the world…” Although, it can be argued that John 3:16 is the Word of God summarized in one verse.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
Something that stood out this past week was the notes on John, himself.
While studying, the question arose, “How could an unschooled fisherman write as John did?” I had never thought of that before. Guess it made an impression on me after spending the last few years learning the craft of writing a novel – something entirely new to me.
For various reasons, some scholars debate whether the Apostle John, called the one Jesus loved, and a Son of Thunder, was the actual author of the book of John. But, I’ll hold to scripture references and tradition that lend to the belief that he wrote it.
But the question has merit.
How does an unschooled fisherman that lived from supposedly 6AD to 100 AD write something that is still read and relevant today? Other than the obvious, of course, – being the inspired Word of God.
We, especially Americans, take reading and writing for granted. But, more than likely, John didn’t spend much time studying those crafts. He probably spent his days learning the family business. It’s not that far-fetched. My grandfather pulled my mother from school in the eighth grade to work on the farm. Just as in John’s day, education wasn’t top priority for most – feeding the family was.
John lived during a period when literacy was quite low. In the oral society, scribes wrote and educated readers read from the Torah in the synagogue where Jews gathered to learn. God’s people listened to his words and then verbally repeated them to the next generation.
I thought of two things I can relate to.
- Some things take a while.
John had things to do … fish … learn from Jesus…care for Jesus’ mother…there’s that whole persecution thing, too. But sixty years after walking with his Lord, God gave John a task – a big one. At what age he started learning to write is uncertain, but at around ninety years old, he penned the narrative.
- If God wants you to do something, he will provide.
No experience? Not the right time? God is in charge. He will establish the appropriate time and make a way. Remember that God told Paul that his power works best in weakness.
How did John tap into God’s grace?
He followed God. He stayed close to Jesus and trusted him. Then in obedience, he learned to write and followed the Holy Spirit’s lead.
Because Christ-followers today need encouragement and insight from a man and his discoveries as he walked the walk.
“But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” John 20:31 NLT
One lesson I take away from John’s life is this: keep learning from Jesus, keeping leaning on him, and always be available. Whether I’m walking the perimeter of life’s action or kicking up dust smack-dab in the middle, the party’s not over till God says it is.