The gospel of John is a beautiful, almost poetic gospel in parts, with many references to the power of God’s love. John is called the “beloved” disciple, the “disciple Jesus loved”. As the youngest and one of the inner circle, he seems to have a special relationship with Jesus. It was John to whom Jesus from the cross entrusted the care of his mother, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to her, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19: 26-27) Thus John became the patron of caregivers, especially parental caregivers.
From this we can extrapolate what is expected of us – to care for our parents, the elderly, the ill, the lonely, and the needy. It is implicit in God’s commandment to love one another that, however we are able, we should help those around us. We should “be there” for others as John was there at the cross for Jesus. “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3: 17-18)
John is also the apostle of love and light. His writings reveal his passionate belief in the message of Jesus’s life. His role as caregiver is defined by his testimony that Jesus is the Messiah sent to be our savior. He does this by presenting evidence of Jesus’s divine purpose in “signs”: changing the water into wine at the wedding in Cana, the multiplication of the loaves, the encounter with the Samarian woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus, seven in all. John’s gospel, his testimony, is highly literary and symbolic, written to teach, to convert, to convince, to interpret, to witness the words and works of Christ. Here we can see his greatest caregiving – encouraging followers, coaching them to adhere to the example of Jesus and to obey the commandment to love one another.
It is said that at a very old age John was carried into the church at Ephesus where he would address those present with “My little children, love one another”. I think it is John’s thematic reminders to love one another, to be true to our belief in Jesus as savior, and to remain in the light of God that make him our personal evangelist, theologian, and teacher in love. This is his special legacy as caregiver.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the apostle John, his gospel of testimony, and his example of caregiving. Help us to be caregivers to those around us, to be witnesses of Christ’s saving grace, and to love one another. Amen.