to any form of
human suffering is nothing new
The idea of suffering was not an enticing prospect
for Jesus’ apostles either--
they all forsook Jesus
fled on the night of His arrest
They were completely unable to reconcile suffering
God’s sovereign purposes.
John, in particular,
not only had an aversion to suffering,
he had also
harbored strong ambitions for glory.
Both desires are perfectly understandable.
John had seen Jesus’ glory firsthand
Mount of Transfiguration,
treasured Jesus’ promise that he
share that glory
How could he not desire such a blessing?
On the other hand,
suffering is a hallmark of hell and
absent in heaven--
why would anyone want to embrace it now?
There was nothing inherently sinful
John’s desire to participate
the glory of Jesus’ eternal kingdom
Christ had promised him
and an inheritance in glory
it is my conviction that when
Christ’s glory fully unveiled
why the glory of Christ
greatest reward of all in heaven.
One glimpse of Jesus
fullness of His glory is worth all
pain and sorrow and suffering
endured here on earth
(cf. Psalm 17:15; 1 John 3:2).
Kind of like laboring childbirth! The radiant Love
that overflows covers any pain or suffering
Participation in Christ’s glory is therefore a fitting desire
for every child of God.
But if we desire to participate in heavenly glory, we
be willing to partake of earthly sufferings.
This was the apostle Paul’s desire:
“That I may know Him
power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of
His sufferings, being conformed to His death”
Paul wasn’t saying he had a masochistic lust for pain;
he was simply recognizing
that glory and suffering are inseparable
Those who desire the reward of glory must be
willing to endure the suffering
Suffering is the price of glory.
We are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if
indeed we suffer
with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him”
Jesus taught this principle again and again:
If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, and take up his cross and
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it;
loses his life for My sake will find it
Suffering is the prelude to glory.
Our suffering as believers is the assurance of the glory
that is yet to come (1 Peter 1:6–7).
And “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us”
those who thirst for glory must balance that desire
with a willingness to suffer.
All the disciples needed to learn this.
they all wanted the chief seats in glory.
But Jesus said there is a price for those seats.
Not only are
those seats reserved for the humble,
those who sit in those seats will
first be prepared
for the place of honor by enduring the
humility of suffering.
That is why Jesus told James and John that before
would receive any throne at all, they would be
“drink the cup that I drink”
“be baptized with the baptism with which
I am baptized”
the living Christ's blood sanctification,
not a religious ritual
How eagerly and how naively James and John assured
the Lord that they would
be able to drink of the cup
He would drink
and be baptized with a baptism of suffering!
"They said to Him, ‘We are able’” (Mark 10:39).
At that moment they had
no real clue
what they were volunteering for
They were like Peter,
boasting that they would follow Jesus
to the death--
but when faced with the opportunity,
they all forsook Him and fled.
Christ does not regard such failures
All eleven of the disciples fled on the
night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest
But every one of them was recovered,
and every one of them ultimately
learned to suffer willingly for Christ’s sake
In fact, all of them
suffered and ultimately died
for the faith.
They were martyred one by one in the prime of life.
John was the only disciple
who lived to old age.
But he suffered, too, in ways the others did not.
He was still enduring
earthly anguish and persecution
the others were already in glory.
On the night of Jesus’ arrest,
John probably began
to understand the bitterness
of the cup
he would have to drink.
We know from his account of Jesus’ trial that
he and Peter
followed Jesus to the house of the high priest
There he watched as Jesus was
bound and beaten.
As far as we know,
John was the only disciple who was an
actual eyewitness to Jesus’ crucifixion
He was standing close enough
to the cross for Jesus to see him
He probably watched
as the Roman soldiers drove in the nails.
He was there when a soldier finally
pierced his Lord’s side with a spear.
And perhaps as he watched he remembered
that he had agreed to partake
of this same baptism.
If so, he surely realized then and there
how awful the cup
was he had so easily volunteered to drink!
When John’s brother James became the church’s first martyr,
John bore the loss in a
more personal way than the others.
As the other disciples were
martyred one by one,
John suffered the grief and pain
of additional loss.
These were his friends and companions.
Soon he alone was left.
In some ways,
that may have been the most
painful suffering of all.
Virtually all reliable sources in early church history
attest to the fact that John became the
pastor of the church the apostle Paul had founded at Ephesus.
From there, during a great persecution of the church
under the Roman Emperor Domitian
(brother and successor of Titus, who destroyed Jerusalem),
John was banished
to a prison community on Patmos.
He lived in a cave there.
It was while there
that he received and recorded the
described in the book of Revelation
(cf. Revelation 1:9).
I have been to the cave in which he is thought
to have lived and in which he is believed to
have written the book of Revelation.
It was a harsh environment for an aged man.
He was cut off from those whom he loved,
treated with cruelty and reproach, and made
to sleep on a stone slab with a rock for a pillow
as the years passed slowly.
But John learned to bear suffering willingly.
There is no complaint about his sufferings anywhere
in his epistles
or the book of Revelation.
It is certain that he wrote Revelation under the most
extreme kind of hardship and deprivation.
But he makes scant mention of his difficulties, referring to himself
"your brother and fellow partaker
in the tribulation and kingdom and
perseverance which are in Jesus”
Notice that in the same breath he mentioned “tribulation,”
he speaks of the
patience that enabled him to bear his sufferings willingly.
He was looking forward
calmly to the day when he would
partake in the promised glory of the kingdom.
That is the right balance and a healthy perspective.
learned to look beyond
his earthly sufferings in anticipation
of the heavenly glory.
the changes in John’s character as he matured form a
worthy pattern for our lives.
Zeal for truth must go hand in hand
with love for people
in order for both traits to bring glory to God.
our ambitions must be tempered with
suffering should not surprise or discourage us,
but encourage a sanctifying expectation
for the glory to come.
Believers have much to gain from the
of John’s teaching and his life.
His theology is rich,
a man who was profoundly
by His relationship with Christ.