Revelation chapter 1 verse 9 : "I John"
Consider the apostle John:
The difference one man can make in adversity and how he can make it! He is :
- The right person (v9)
- The right place (v9) – Patmos
- The right preparation (v9)
Same kind of conditions
- In the right condition (v10)
Then John was a right help to the people of God!
It took him until he was about 90 to be:
- That person
- In that place
- In that condition
God was not in any hurry with the life and ministry of the apostle John, even if I am in a hurry for God to do something with my life, my gifts and my talents!
‘I John’ - consider the significance of this simple, humble statement in verse 9 of chapter 1 of Revelation. This greatest of biblical, prophetic revelations was given to a humble fisherman: to John! This was the John who leaned on the breast of Jesus. From that past experience of John, that proximity to the person of Jesus Christ, extends that reality of Jesus to these Christians now. This is of course the pattern for all true Christian ministry; to draw others into the proximity and experience of Christ, as I too have enjoyed it!
It was that same disciple and apostle John who:
- Travelled with Him
- Talked with Him
- Listened to Him
- Watched Him
- Rested on Him
- Wrote the gospel all about Him
John summarises His experience of Jesus in 1 John 1:1-2:
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" 1 John 1:1-2
The same John so close to Christ now draws close to Christians, that is his priestly ministry.
This is the same ministry of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ who:
- Bore our griefs and carried our sorrows
- Who washed the disciples feet
- Who being in the form of God thought not Deity to consist of grasping after (Phil 2)
John’s ministry was a priestly ministry
All Christian service is priestly service
The service of Christ was priestly service (Phil 2, John 13)
The pattern of spiritual service is priestly; Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Daniel
John’s service isn’t only about preaching to people but is about reaching people. John doesn’t just appear out of the blue and start preaching to everyone about Jesus! John has a history, from history experience, an ongoing experience of Jesus! That history began with the call of Jesus on his life (Matt 4:21) and the obedience of John to that call may have seemed to some a tiny step; let go of his fishing nets and stop mending nets and follow Jesus. That first small step and call of John to follow Jesus, and the subsequent series of tiny steps though have led us and John here to the greatest prophetic revelation of the Bible!
For perhaps the bulk of the gospel narrative an intelligent onlooker may well be forgiven for questioning wither or not all of this sacrifice of job, security, family and finance was really going anywhere? Perhaps especially when we see Christ crucified and the 2 on the road to Emmaus despondent and discouraged. Had John made a colossal error of judgment? Perhaps he even wondered this himself? Returning it would seem at one point to the fishing in John chapter 21?
The first book of the NT records where John came from – humble beginnings, unpromising and unqualified, uninspiring, but listen it is left for the last book of the Bible for us to learn as to where John went to! Not just Patmos but somewhere way more glorious than that:
From the sea of Galilee
The crystal sea (Rev 4)
This journey from earth to heaven, to the eternal Glory of God is not uniquely John’s journey, this too is our journey!
Is it not encouraging to see that the glory he gained was infinitely greater than the small steps of faithful obedience John took! This was a journey of many small steps of faithful obedience, to leave behind the mending of nets, to leave the fishing and boat and father and follow Jesus. Those many small steps of obedience and tiny steps of faithfulness brought John on a journey which concluded here with the statement: “I John” (1:9)
I wonder if there will be many looking back from the edge of the crystal sea and wondering; seriously did I ever consider any of these passing and fleeting sacrifices of time of any real value and significance, past and now long forgotten; compared to the perspective that is now mine in eternity; on the edge of the crystal sea?
“these light afflictions” – did I ever entertain the thought that such light afflictions, such tiny costs, such trivia might seriously be a hindrance or discouragement to me reaching this destination! Oh those light afflictions are so out of proportion to a far more eternal Weight of glory!
Did I ever get:
Doubt the purpose
For such trivial gains?
Little did John anticipate where these individual steps of obedience would lead him to! A life filled with many small steps of obedience can lead somewhere glorious.
God uses / calls a man of experience in the Apostle John! From experience comes revelation and exposition. How much of a help can you be John? That question is in essence synonymous with another question: "How close are you to Jesus?"
John is serving Christ and the people of God in his suffering (verse 9). Serving as a "brother" and a "companion in tribulation" for the sake of the gospel. Serving opens the ear to the saving word of God, consider:
- John 11 and the table set for Jesus with Lazarus
- Cf the miracles of healing
- Cf Naamans maid
- John chapter 13 and the washing of the disciples feet
- John chapters 8 + 9
Serving demonstrates the sincerity of the concern and care of the Christian in testimony:
- We are not a cult
- We care
- We care because God cares
- We serve because Christ serves
- We deal with people as people who have a will to be won over
This is the ‘Kingdom’ (v9); not the earthly kingdom of Pilate; ‘art thou a King?’ A kingdom not of this world; entrance to this kingdom is by much tribulation. This is a kingdom foreign to this world, belonging to another world, to be part of this kingdom is to be foreign to the world.
A message preached as part of our series of Bible studies on the teaching of the prophetic book of Revelation
Yours by Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie