Summary: Faithfulness to the Word of God truly results in blessings beyond all we would ask or think, but often results in the opposite of comfort and ease and temporal happiness.
I John, your brother, and partaker together in the stresses, and kingdom, and endurance in Jesus, was in the island named Patmos, because of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus.
v 9 Tribulation is thlipsis, a word used for the process of shaping an object under tremendous pressure. According to Eusebius, John was convicted by the Roman government and sentenced to boiling in oil, but the boiling didn’t affect him. So they exiled him to Patmos, a small island in the Mediterranean. John was probably in his nineties and was indeed patient, like an endurance runner, in waiting for the Lord to give justice to the unjust (Rev. 13:10; 14:11-12).
Do you ever feel stressed out?
Have you ever felt like there is simply too much to do, too many demands on your time, too many people relying on you, more to handle than you were built to handle? If the answer is yes, then you’ve experienced TRIBULATION. As we discussed as we journeyed through Ephesians, thlipsis (Tribulation-I’ve translated “stresses”, here ????e? ) is a word for the process of pressing metal through a device that flattens it until it becomes thin. The metal goes through stress-it is pressed and stressed and squeezed. That is tribulation. John acknowledged that he knew stress, a kind most of us never experience.
The Reason for Stresses
You may not like the reason John gave for his stresses-because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Have you ever heard a sermon in which the preacher proclaimed prosperity and happiness and abundance for all those who believe? The Gospel writers had a different perspective. They, unlike some such preachers, were following Jesus. Jesus said “if you want to follow me, you must turn away from your selfish ways, take up your cross and follow me”. He invited people to a life of redemptive sacrifice. As Dietrich Bonnhöffer said “When Jesus calls a man, he bids him, ‘come, and die’”. Faithfulness to the Word of God truly results in blessings beyond all we would ask or think, but often results in the opposite of comfort and ease and temporal happiness. John, I’m sure, was in the joy of the Lord. He was also under tremendous stress because of the Gospel. If you’re under stress, and part of the reason is you are seeking to Honor God in your job, home, and relationships, you’re in VERY good company.
Boiling in Oil
The stresses and death can be taken as the bad news. The good news is the endurance and strength we gain as we suffer because of obedience to the Word and Testimony of Jesus. John, according to tradition, was boiled in oil, which was supposed to kill him, but it didn’t work. Once the sentence was carried out, they couldn’t kill him again under the same verdict so they exiled him. I’ve often wondered about that boiling scene. What was it like? John was lead to the big pot of oil. They lit the fire, dipped him in. . . Was it like a Jacuzzi for him? Did he take advantage of the hot oil treatment, take a seat in the bubble bath, sing a few worship songs? Did he splash the oil in his face and hair? Did he come out glowing with the radiance of one who had a nice afternoon spa? Apparently, the Roman officials thought the testimony of such an unstoppable nonagenarian was too dangerous to allow John to stay round Ephesus, so they moved him to exile on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean. Again. Death & suffering and such are the bad news. But can you imagine being exiled to a Greek Isle? Honestly, that doesn’t sound so bad. God truly leads us into suffering, just as He lead Jesus to the wilderness to be tested by the devil. He also strengthens us for and through the stresses then, in His time, brings us to a reality better than we would have imagined for ourselves.
Prayer for Today
I feel tired. I feel overwhelmed. I feel stressed.
And, without contradiction, I know You are good. You are too good. You are gracious, and loving and kind and all-knowing. Help me today
Help me to see the light at the end of this tunnel.
Make me strong for the journey.
With the same forces that are crushing me, open my heart wider and pour Yourself in. Then all of the stresses will be worth it.
In the name of the One you sent to sweat drops of blood in prayer