I wrote a Bible study about Revelation and I am currently working on one for John, so I have thought a lot about what it must have been like to be John. In this series I have focused mainly on people who have had a rough life but them overcome, but with John, it’s hard to find a lot of hardships.
We know little about him other than what we are told in the gospels, and there he is one of the most favored apostles. Jesus even gave him the honor of caring for His mother, Mary. If we look to sources outside of scripture, we do find some unpleasantness.
Church tradition tells us that John was severely mistreated by the Roman government in Asia Minor later in his life. For whatever reason, they wanted to martyr him like the other apostles, so they tried to throw him into a vat of boiling oil. Instead of destroying his flesh in an excruciatingly painful death, we’re told that John was unharmed. I suppose it must have been an awkward moment for whomever dipped John into the oil when it didn’t harm him.
Unfortunately for the Romans, they didn’t take a hint from the fact that John wasn’t hurt, so they chose to instead exile him to a small island in the Aegean Sea called Patmos. The island wasn’t deserted, as most think, but the small community there gave the Romans the ability to watch John and make sure he didn’t escape from their island prison.
Jesus’ Shared Revelation
In the midst of his exile, John had possibly one of the greatest gifts given to him, a revelation of eternity. Most people see Revelation and instantly recoil in fear from the unknowns of Revelation, but John saw glory. John saw majesty. John saw goodness.
Jesus shared His revelation of the end times and eternity with John, something that I esteem as a privilege unmatched of any other scripture writer. John, in the midst of active persecution (it doesn’t get much worse than your enemies trying to kill you), was shown the glorious transition that God has in mind from this age to the next. He actually saw God sitting on His throne, something he himself said no one had ever seen (John 1:18).
Not Too Hard A Life
What an amazing privilege it must have felt to John to be given the charge to write the book of Revelation. I love thinking about what it must have been like for Him to see what he saw and then have to write it all down for each of us to ponder.
Maybe your life hasn’t been all that bad. You don’t have to have a hard life for God to show you His goodness. For John, other than a little attempted murder, he seems to have fared pretty well, and God gave him an amazing privilege.
Don’t let your lack of an “amazing testimony” stop you from asking God to show you His goodness. Come boldly before His throne and He will surely answer you.