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Lesson 7: The Apostle John *

Introduction: Is your heart at peace? At this moment I feel a very heavy load of things to do. Burdens press me at work and at home. I am always working to meet time deadlines. (Even to write this lesson each week.) Our lesson this week is for those whose hearts are not at peace. Jesus wants us, as His missionaries, to have peace in our hearts. He wants us to understand how our timing is not His timing. Let's plunge into the Bible and find the path to peace!

  1. Following Jesus

    1. Read Luke 5:1-3. How much of an inconvenience is Jesus to these fishermen? (Very little. They were done fishing for the day, and Jesus was simply borrowing their boat so the people could see and hear Him teach.)

    2. Read Luke 5:4-5. What do you think motivates Jesus to give this instruction? (On the surface, He is returning a favor. You let me borrow your boat, I'll help you earn some income.)

      1. Does Simon want to do this? Put yourself in Simon's place, what reasons would you have for not doing this? (He worked all night and is tired. They had cleaned up all the equipment and are ready to go home. Jesus wants them to go out a way, He says "deep water." This is a wild goose chase, what does this preacher know about fishing?)

    3. Read Luke 5:6-7. Was it worth doing what they did not want to do?

      1. What if they (the fishermen) had "just believed" and had not done anything in response to Jesus' words?

        1. Would it have been a "sin" not to do what Jesus said? Wasn't Jesus just offering a favor that they could take or leave? (My first reaction is that I don't think it would have been a sin to say "We're too tired to do this. We'll do it tomorrow." But, look at what a blessing they would have missed.)

    4. Read Luke 5:8-11. Have you changed your mind about the reason why Jesus told Simon to put out His nets? (Jesus is demonstrating that they should trust and follow Him. It is the build-up to the call to full-time discipleship with Jesus.)

      1. What would have happened if Simon had not put out his nets?

        1. Isn't it sin to not trust Jesus?

        2. Not catching anything would be a financial loss. Simon would have to work twice as hard the next day to catch up. What promise do we see for those who feel the pressure of earning money?

    5. Our study is about John, not Simon. How is John involved in this? (He is Simon's business partner.)

      1. Is John as involved as Simon? (Simon is the spokesperson, but John is just as involved.)

    6. Read Mark 1:19-20. What important fact does this add to our story? (It tells us that this was not such an easy thing for John. First, John is leaving a partnership with his father. Second, this seems to be a prosperous business. The business consists at least of Simon, Andrew, John, James, Zebedee and a number of employees.)

      1. What if Jesus just called them without the large catch of fish? Would they have followed Him? (Simon's reaction in Luke 5:8 shows that He thought this was a miracle. Jesus had power over nature. In addition, fish were money to them. Jesus showed that He could provide an income - even when it seemed impossible.)

      2. What does this teach us about our missionary efforts? (Jesus can provide for both our spiritual and physical needs.)

    7. Read Mark 10:35-37. How much of a business motivation did John see in his decision to follow Jesus? (We now see that the business angle is much stronger than we thought. John left a prosperous fishing partnership, but he expected that he had moved into an even greater "business." He was going to be a ruler in Jesus' new kingdom on earth.)

    8. Read Mark 10:41-45. Was Jesus offering a "bait and switch?" Or, would John believe that he still had a chance to be a ruler? (I'll bet that John heard Jesus' words "whoever wants to become great," but did not understand the "first must be slave of all" part of the message.)

      1. Does this remind you of the Jairus's story that we studied last week? Is timing an important point in this issue? (To the extent that John understood that Jesus was creating a kingdom on earth in which John would be an important player, John was in for a disappointment. The rest of John's life would be hard, he would never rule. But, if you collapse time (and the predictions of Isaiah 65:17-18 and Revelation 21:1-3) you see that John will indeed be a ruler here on earth. See Revelation 21:14.)

  2. The Transformation

    1. Read again Mark 10:45. What clear statement does Jesus make about His future and the hope of the disciples to be rulers? (Jesus came to serve and to give His life for others.)

      1. What does this teach us about our life here?

    2. Read 1 John 3:11-15. Was John ever like Cain? (Yes, when John was a rival to the rest of the disciples. He desired to rule over them, and desired more favor from God than for the others. At that point he was like Cain. Cain compared God's favor to Abel with God's reaction to him, and he determined to kill Abel.)

      1. At what point ( 1 John 3:14) did John pass over from death to life? (When he understood the idea of loving his fellow humans meant serving them.)

    3. Read 1 John 3:16-18. Have you made the transition from loving only with your words to loving with your money and your actions?

    4. Read 1 John 3:19-20. Do you have peace in your life?

      1. What formula for achieving peace does John suggest? (Our hearts will be at rest when our lives are devoted to help others.)

      2. How does this relate back to Cain and John (during his early years)? (When they wanted to rule, their hearts were not at rest. God is not telling us to be lazy or to lack ambition. Colossians 3:23 tells us to work as if God is our employer. But, our goal is not to have others serve us. Our goal is to do great things for others, to do great things for the Kingdom of God.)

    5. Read 1 John 3:21-22. How many people read these verses and conclude that God will give them anything they want?

      1. What important qualifier to this promise have we just discussed? (If you are asking to help others, if you are serving others, then God will give you what you want. If we are asking to help ourselves, then this is a different matter.)

    6. Friend, what is the direction of your life? Are you struggling for personal glory? Or, do you seek to be a blessing to others? God offers us peace. Peace in our efforts to serve others here. Peace in the knowledge that with time He will make all things right. Peace in the knowledge that God is in charge. Will you take the road to peace?

  3. Next week: From Folly to Faith: the Apostle Peter.

* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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