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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Other Disciple, Standing By

"Then went in that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed" (John 20:8).

Everyone wants to be front and center like Peter, but no one wants to be that "other disciple." The Bible uses that phrase five times. Four times in chapter 20 and the other in John 18:16. 

In John 19, Jesus saw the disciple whom he loved "standing by."

"When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst" (John 19:26-28).

I had totally missed something in that verse before. Do you realize the last thing Christ did was make sure his mom was taken care of? The part that stuck out to me was the other disciple. It was John, and he was also the one leaning on Jesus' breast at the last supper.

The definition of a disciple is not only the followers of Christ but also a person who is a pupil or adherent to another's doctrines. John was indeed adherent to the doctrines of Christ. Little is written of John personally. Three other times we find John referred to as "the disciple whom the Lord loved." John was usually found in the company of Peter. Still, it was apparent when all the disciples were gathered with Christ, Jesus was definitely the top priority.

When they were all together, Peter was usually found right in the middle of any conversation or activity. If you notice when reading about their activities, Peter, James, and John were generally listed in that order. That combination is recorded 10 times in the gospels and always in that order. They were the ones present at the transfiguration and the raising of Jarius' daughter. Jesus nicknamed James and John the "Sons of Thunder." Their mother once created some division among the disciples when she asked for them to sit on either side of his throne. Jesus, of course, didn't accommodate her wish. You never read anything really about either of them by themselves. They are almost always in the company of Peter.

John's individual big moment was at the crucifixion when Jesus entrusted him with the care of his mother. As an old man, the Lord also allowed him to see visions and write the book of Revelation. He was also the last of the disciples to die according to historical accounts.

John never had any standout moments after the ascension of Christ. He was never listed first but never seemed to mind. He just quietly went about doing his job for the glory of God. The impressive thing about John is he was always standing by.

"Standing by" means ready and awaiting further instructions. That was the story of his life, just standing by. Wouldn't it be great to have a bunch of close friends like that? Wouldn't it be great if Jesus had a few more like that? Just think how much simpler our lives would be if we were just "standing by" awaiting God's command. Ready to do whatever he said, just for His glory. Think how victorious our spiritual life would be if we were willing to be that other disciple just standing by. 

Many Christians think they have to be out front and grabbing the headlines. If we could learn to just be satisfied with what He wants us to do. I hope I'm getting this across like it's in my heart. If we didn't think of ourselves more highly than we ought. If we were content to let Peter go in first like he did at the tomb. If we were just willing to go that last mile and "stand by" in case we were needed. If our name didn't have to be known. If we were that "other disciple standing by," we would have all we need. 

All Scripture used is KJV.

Copyright © 2017 Andy Hollifield, used with permission.

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