as told by Biscuit
Hello; Biscuit here.
Many people like dogs. And why not? We're very friendly creatures. Some people have even said that we are man's best friend.
So it seemed right that I should tell you about one of Jesus' best friends. His name was John. He was a fisherman, like his brother James, and the two of them had the nickname "the sons of thunder", so maybe they had a bit of a temper, or argued a bit. They met Jesus when they were with their father one day, fishing. Fishing was a family occupation, and you wouldn't have thought that these two were the type to give up on the family business. Yet when Jesus invited them to follow him and become his disciples, that's exactly what they did. I'm not sure their dad was too happy about having to catch fish on his own, but he couldn't really stop his boys from following Jesus.
So they joined Jesus' band of friends; in fact, they were among Jesus' closest friends. They, and Peter, sometimes saw and did things that the others were not able to see and do. Like when Jesus brought a dead girl back to life again. Or when he went up a mountain and had a very special experience and meeting with God.
Maybe all this made them rather big-headed. In fact, I think all of the disciples began to feel that they were rather special, and sometimes they had arguments about which of them was Jesus' BEST friend, and more important than the others. One time, James and John even asked Jesus if they could sit beside him on special thrones when he became king - just them, not the other disciples. Some people are never satisfied. James and John were chosen, out of all the men in Israel, to be some of Jesus' special friends. They were even two of his three closest friends. But this wasn't enough; they both wanted to be the best.
Now, ambition isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you want to do the best that you can, and be the best, person that you can be, that's a good thing to aim for. But if you want to be the best at your job - some people call this wanting to be the top dog - and you hurt other people on the way, that's not good. And that's what Jesus told James and John. In fact, Jesus actually turned all their ideas about this upside down. He said that if they wanted to be first, or the best, in the Kingdom of heaven, then the way to do this was to put yourself last, to be a servant, to look out for everybody else first, and then think about your own needs and desires.
I noticed that Jesus often did that; challenged people's ideas about forgiveness, ambition and how to live their lives, and turned them all upside-down.
Anyway, John spent about 3 years with Jesus; heard all his teachings and saw many amazing things, and gradually, he began to change. It didn't happen all at once. I remember a time when John saw a man who wasn't part of Jesus' group of disciples, yet he was talking about Jesus and doing some miracles like Jesus did. You would have thought that he would have been happy to find someone who, not only believed in Jesus but was trying to copy him. But no! John tried to stop this man because he did not belong to their little group of Jesus' friends. I think he thought that only Jesus' special friends should be allowed to do these things - because they were special. But Jesus told him that he shouldn't have done that and that anyone who believed in Jesus and was on his side, was one of his friends.
I think that, in time, John came to understand this and, as I say, he changed. Actually, I don't think it's possible for someone to spend time with Jesus and NOT change. He had that effect on people then, and he still does today.
John was very loyal to Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, John was actually there to see it. Maybe he ran away at first, like all the other disciples did, but it seems he went back. And just before he died, Jesus gave John a very special job - to look after his mother, Mary, and make sure she was ok.
John lived to be very old and was alive after a lot of Jesus' friends had died. As an old man, he decided he wanted other people to know about Jesus, what he had said and who he really was. So he wrote a book, which today we call a Gospel, and it is one of the 4 Gospels in the New Testament. It is quite different from the other 3 Gospels, written by Matthew, Mark and Luke; that's probably because John had had a long time to think about, and work out, who Jesus really was, and what the things that he had said, meant. And he wanted to explain all this to his friends and churches, before he died. John also wrote a few letters to churches. He had spent time with Jesus, had actually seen all his miracles, had seen Jesus die and then come back to life. He knew who Jesus was, and he wanted all of them to know it too.
I wonder if you know that you can also know Jesus and be his friend?