I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus. Revelation 1:9
Unfortunately, we cannot be sure who this John was. Some people have thought of him as being the disciple who wrote the fourth Gospel, but that is highly unlikely. The style of the writing in Revelation is very different from that of the Gospel. However, what we do know is that he was clearly a significant Christian leader and, as a result of his ministry, was forced into exile in Patmos, a Greek island that lies off the coast of Turkey. It is probable that he was sentenced to work in the quarries on the island.
John revealed himself both as a brother to his readers and also one who was a partner in their suffering. He was not writing this book from an ivory tower, but was standing among them, recognising that they were part of the same family and going through similar trials. In short, he understood their situation. He was encouraging them to stand firm and endure, knowing full well how demanding and costly that was.
It’s always an incredible blessing when we meet people who understand us because they have had similar experiences. I had a knee replacement a little while ago, and it was so comforting to meet people who had had the same operation. I need to add that I was also very grateful for the kindness and consideration of people with perfect knees and who had never needed such an operation! Shared experience is inevitably powerful, and I am sure you will remember times of change, illness or bereavement when someone else’s experience has brought instant support and encouragement.
The book of Revelation is remarkable in many ways but, as you read through it, it is important to remember that it came from someone who was coming alongside his readers as a brother and friend, in order to encourage and strengthen them.
Who has given you encouragement as you have gone through difficult times?
Lord God, I thank you for those wonderful people who have given me support and encouragement when I’ve been struggling with life’s challenges. Amen