I’ve always thought of the apostle John as the “emissary of love,” kind of like the Barry White of the New Testament. Who isn’t a follower of Jesus that wasn’t told early on, “Read the Gospel of John.” And then there were these silly, but memorable songs we sang to help memorize his words…let’s see if I can still ramble them off – “Beloved let us love one another; for love is of God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God for God is love. So, beloved, let us love one another…first John four-seven and eight!”
Yea, so what if I remember it in KJV. Not sure how that would work with the Message.
If you read the Epistles of John, the “love disciple” takes on a new persona. He is pastor John in a battle for the health of his church(es). Many commentators believe John was well into his 90’s when he wrote the Epistles. Imagine it – no medicines to sooth the aches and pains of old age, no glasses to help him read & write, and try to look back on the history he has experienced over all those years.
I count 11 Roman emperors that he saw come and go, many of which were simply brutal, mass murderers. Caligula, Vespasian and his son, soon to be ruler, Titus. How about Nero who killed Peter & Paul? Or the ruler who made sure his guests could see while dining in his garden by impaling Christians on poles, lighting them, and using the light as his garden illumination for an evenings hospitality?
John watched as Jesus’ words were fulfilled and the Temple was burnt, destroyed, and the Roman soldiers scraped the bars of gold from the crevices of the mighty stones. I’m nowhere near 90…yet. But I am old enough to feel like it would be nice to slow down a bit, enjoy the church, your family, and all the years of seeing God do amazing things. No such plan for the mighty pastor John.
Take a moment to consider the trail of tears in your life – what have they done to you? Have they broken you until you want to run off, retire, and never re-fire again? John has some guidance and encouragement for us. This aged pastor, leader, apostle, wasn’t allowed to take his RV away from the fray with the bumper sticker, “I’m Spending My Church’s Inheritance.” No. Get ready for the “old man” to take a stand.