John is more literary than any of the other disciples and has a better grasp of the sheer importance of Jesus’ words—he is taking notes and writing everything down immediately after becoming a disciple, noting what Jesus is telling Nicodemus by listening outside the door and scribbling it in his notebook. Later, he uses a get-together as way to gather stories from everyone who knew Jesus, and is excited about Mary’s disclaimer that so much more happened than he can include in his accounts. He often dreams big, immediately assuming he knows what Jesus’ intentions are, and often times, he is wrong (it’s not a big future plan to feed weary travelers on the road to Samaria, it’s to feed a local family next autumn!). John is also aware of others’ inconsistencies and points them out to their face—when Simon accuses Matthew of needing to apologize and being in the wrong for working for the Romans, John immediately leaps to his defense and reminds Simon that he too was going to betray John and his brother—to the same Romans! Although a generous man, deeply interested in what Jesus has to teach him and able to be humble when necessary, John is somewhat self-absorbed at times. He assumes himself more important than he is, whenever he calls someone out on something, it’s all about his own feelings, and even his attack against Simon was all about how Simon’s actions would have affected him and his family. He can be quite angry at people, and lash out at them with harsh words to make a point, but also thinks a lot about the kind of structure he wants to give to his accounts, tries to gather as much personal information as he can, and goes detail-seeking when necessary. (He, however, says that his brother followed the rules too much, and was too detail-oriented at school, with the result that his brother can quote more Torah than him.)

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At one point in the series, Mother Mary says to John that Jesus did not love him “the most,” but that he seems to feel a need to remind everyone how much Jesus loved him, indicating his pride in being Chosen and confided in. Pride also surfaces elsewhere, when he feels proud that Jesus has chosen him and his brother to plow a field in Samaria, since he assumes that there is some big, important future reason for what they are doing (feeding weary travelers to come). He allows this to go to his head, and becomes quite certain of his own self-importance at the meal later in the day, where he assumes that Jesus has chosen him to be a leader among the disciples, and wants the others to run the plans of where they intend to go, and who they intend to see, past him. Jesus has to call him on this, and remind him to be more humble, a lesson he genuinely takes to heart. But he also rapidly moves to 8 when Samaritans throw rocks at them on the road—he wants Jesus to give him the authority to “call down fire from heaven” on them! This earns him the nickname of a “son of thunder.”

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