John on Patmos

Where Are You, God?

Jesus said, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.” Revelation 1:18-19

Have you ever faced circumstances that made you ask God, “How can You work this out for good? How can You be glorified in this?”

All the disciples except John were martyred, and he was exiled to an island called Patmos where he may have labored at a rock quarry. While there he wrote Revelation. He knew God had placed him on Patmos “because of the word of God” (Revelation 1:9). Word, the Greek logos, may be translated “decree, mandate or order.”*John was exactly where God wanted him to be.

Did John crawl wearily back to his room at the end of a day of hard physical labor, glad to sit down to write, alone and without distractions? Bare walls great background for visions? Exiled, yet able to write and send his writings to his friends who would preserve and distribute them.

Perhaps John realized that “the revelation of Jesus Christ” would be the last letter he’d write. He was an old man. He may not have expected to still be writing, but he received a vision and was told to write what he saw and send it to seven churches (1:11).

John had been discipled by Jesus during His earthly ministry. John had seen Him die on the cross. He had seen the empty tomb, and Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, resurrected. John had also seen Him taken up into heaven. And the angels had promised Jesus would return.

This time John saw Jesus Christ in heaven watching over the churches, ruling over history. And more. In the vision he saw the end of time and Jesus Christ’s triumph over all His enemies, including death.

“Don’t be afraid,” Jesus said to his beloved disciple (1:17). What John saw was awesome, overwhelming at times. But the revelation was meant to be reassuring. God has everything planned.

John had a small, but significant role in God’s eternal plan. We can’t see the complete significance of the part we are playing in history any more than John could. Where are you? No matter the circumstances, your age, your abilities, God has given you a part to play, something to do.

Someday we will see how our obedience to God’s call on our lives glorified Him.


Read John 21:18-24. How did Jesus respond when Peter asked about what kind of death John would die? Skim Acts chapters 2-5, 8 and Galatians 2:7-9 to see the roles Peter and John had in the early church. How did both men glorify God before they died?

Can you see that God uses circumstances in your life to fulfill his purposes? What specific situations in your life might belong to the Big Picture of God’s Plan?

Read Revelation 1:1-3. How do these words of warning and blessing apply to our lives even though they were written over two thousand years ago?

Nancy J. Baker

*Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 23 Jul 2012. strongs=G3056

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