We are too often concerned about the behavior of others and not of first priority ourselves. In this instance, Jesus rebuked Peter for the benefit of us all. We too need to be admonished by the Lord, “I have a plan for that other person or persons, however, YOU must follow me. But what is fascinating about this passage in John is the rumor that began over the Lord’s words; namely that John would not die, but remain alive until His return. What Jesus said could be understood with varying meaning. One, “What happens with John is not your first priority, in your case, Peter, you must follow me. But, two, John in a very real sense did remain alive to the return of the Lord, in that John saw very vividly the events of the last days AND the Lord’s return in a grand vision on the rocky isle of Patmos just off the coast of modern day Turkey where he was exiled by the Roman emperor around 95 AD. I think both meanings are true as the Lord prophesied John’s vision and taught each of us to focus on a committed following of the Lord Jesus; doing what a true disciple of Jesus ought to do.
I have just been to the isle of Patmos for the first time in my life. It was an exhilarating experience, even if it is a small, yet beautiful, Greek island and even though John has been long gone from Patmos and in heaven since the early years of the Second Century. However, for many, the holy atmosphere of the rocky isle has remained right up to the present day. Tradition for thousands of years has marked the cave where the elderly Apostle John, or likely his scribe wrote down the vision of the Apocalypse as John described what he was given by God to see. Tradition also tells us that John was accompanied into exile on Patmos by Prochoros, one of the seven deacons appointed by the Apostles (Acts 6:5), becoming John’s companion, helper, and scribe in his exile.
The events John saw in his God-inspired vision are primarily still in the future, possibly your personal future, if they indeed take place in your lifetime which is certainly possible, some say even probable. Time will tell. Other than the Christ-given letters to the seven churches, which are for the church of all the ages from the first to the twenty first century, the Apocalypse is yet before us as both promise and warning. The scenes almost defy description in words; the very reason why the Book of Revelation has been so controversial with so many different interpretations by myriad commentators down through the millenniums. What a combination of horrific, cataclysmic, and glorious scenes are set before our eyes by the beloved disciple and elderly presbyter. He describes for your own eyes and imagination the New Jerusalem and your home for eternity, but also the apocalyptic and terrible events which precede the conclusion of human history as we have known it.
The Book of Revelation ought to be for every believer the Spirit infused and inspired anchor for the soul through all the terrible events yet to descend upon the world, and a stern warning to awaken the hearts and minds of unbelievers to the horror that is coming upon those who continue to hate the words and person of the Lord Jesus Christ: “Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)
This is why Patmos for a believer has an air of reverence, of holy ground, because our brother in the Lord, John, received this vision here on this small isle, and wrote it down for the church of all ages, that you might be prepared for what lies ahead having this promise of future glory to sustain you through horrific times. All the more reason for you to again hear Jesus’ words to Peter on the shore of Galilee and embed them in your own heart and actions, “You must follow me!
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