John the Apostle was reputedly the only disciple not to be martyred for the faith, aside, naturally, from Judas Iscariot. However, while he did not pass from this life by being killed for the faith, he certainly suffered extensively for the faith while alive. Many of us will be familiar with his exile on the Isle of Patmos, but there were other times also when he was publicly reviled for the faith.
There is a legend associated with John towards the end of his earthly life, probably when he was in Ephesus. Jerome, in his commentary, says: His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the voice to speak many words. During individual gatherings, he usually said nothing but, “Little children, love one another.” The disciples and brothers in attendance, annoyed because they always heard the same words, finally said, “Teacher, why do you always say this?” He replied: “Because it is the Lord’s commandment and if it alone is kept, it is sufficient.”
As we go through John’s first letter, we will see how much the Lord’s beloved disciple sees those in the family of faith as also the Lord’s beloved. How many times does he address us tenderly? He is truly a father in the faith intimately involved in guiding, encouraging and gently rebuking in the faith. What a wonderful testimony to his faith this letter is. Let’s see this month how much those words quoted from him by Jerome flow through in his first letter.
A letter to you
“My little children, I am writing these to you so that you may not sin.” – 1 John 2:1a
Scripture reading: Philippians 1:3-11
Letter writing isn’t one of my great strengths. It’s a real struggle to prepare myself and try to start. There I am, the blank screen or paper before me, trying to think of something to write. And then, when I have a subject to write about, I spend so much time trying to express myself correctly.
The apostle John certainly had a subject to write about to the churches – a subject that had been causing much difficulty amongst the brethren. And doesn’t that kind of controversial subject make us even more wary of what we write? In fact, wouldn’t we then rather not write at all?
That John does write, shows us the extent of his concern. He put the pen to paper. And he does so in a way which becomes a positive testimony to the faith we have. He doesn’t skip the problem either. His letter is a wonderfully Spirit-inspired balance. That’s what’s so special about Scripture. Another apostle, Paul, in 1st Corinthians 2:3-5, speaks of this as a demonstration of the Spirit and of power so that we don’t rest on the wisdom of men, but in God’s power.
Hearing this, wasn’t it a real blessing that the churches were being written to by John? Even today, and in this month ahead, we too are having it personally posted to us.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank the Lord for His Spirit bringing His Word to us and pray it will truly expose and convict us.
Rev. Sjirk Bajema currently serves the RCNZ Oamaru, in Oamaru, New Zealand. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.