There are two men named John, who appear prominently in the Gospels. The first is John The Baptist, whose ministry preceded the public ministry of Jesus. John was a fiery itinerant preacher, who called for people to repent and be baptized. He was a cousin to Jesus and six months older.
The other John, is the Apostle John, one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus, the son of Elizabeth and the priest Zechariah. Mark’s Gospel describes him as a fulfillment of prophesy, a messenger who comes before the Messiah. He proclaimed the coming of the Christ.
John used baptism as a ritual done in anticipation of the coming Messiah. He encouraged people to repent and turn to God. Many of the followers of Jesus started out with John, but as Jesus began his ministry John knew that his ministry must diminish and that people needed to follow Jesus.
There was an emotional and significant meeting of John the Baptist and Jesus on the day that Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. The exchange was interesting because John did not want to perform the baptism, saying that Jesus should baptize John. But Jesus insisted, explaining to John that he was doing this to fulfill all righteousness.
Even though Jesus, the Son of God, was sinless, he submitted to baptism just like everyone else who came to participate in the sacrament. When Jesus came out of the water, a voice heaven proclaimed, “You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
John the Baptist was a fiery preacher, who held nothing back. He called out Herod Antipas, the king, for divorcing his wife and marrying his brother’s wife. Herod had John the Baptist beheaded. This took place approximately 30 AD.
The Apostle John
The Apostle John was one of the original 12 disciples of Christ and was the writer of the Gospel, three epistles and the Book of Revelation. He was the one “who Jesus loved.” John was at the cross and Jesus told him to take care of His mother.
John was a son of Zebedee and was a convert of John the Baptist, and while with the Baptist in the Jordan Valley, he met Jesus. John the Baptist knew that his ministry must diminish because Jesus had begun his public ministry. John would then to turn to Jesus.
John, the son of Zebedee, becomes a disciple of Jesus
After first meeting Jesus, John went back to fishing, but then he would meet Jesus again and at that time both John and his brother James would drop fishing and follow Jesus. Both would become disciples.
John and his brother that their passions, and both were upset with a man who was casting out demons outside of the authority of Christ. They also wanted Jesus to tell them which would be the greater in heaven, a question that put them at odds with the other disciples.
John and his brother James were with Jesus when he met with Elijah and Moses in the mountain.
John outlines the LOVE of Christ in his writings
The Gospels tell of the life of Jesus, but John’s writing was different. His Gospel is not an account of the ministry of Jesus as much as it is a theological portrait of the Messiah. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are like photographs, snapshots of moments and events. John’s Gospel is like an oil painting, giving the reader a feel for the love of Christ.
Interestingly, one of the prevailing beliefs was Gnosticism, a decidedly anti-Christian faith that centered on knowledge, denouncing the deity of Jesus. John’s Gospel is a direct repudiation of those beliefs. John’s intention is to show that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in His name.
John begins with a very forceful and deliberate declaration. Gnostics did not believe that Jesus could be fully man and fully God. That which is spirit, according to them, was good. The flesh was bad. They concluded that Jesus could not be God.
John took direct aim at the Gnostics and wrote:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus is the Word
Notice he wrote the “Word” with a capitol “W” declaring that Jesus IS the word. John also writes what might be the most familiar quote of the New Testament, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. “ (John 3:16)
The Gospel of John reads like a love letter from God to man. John was the only Apostle who was not executed.