Patmos

John was exiled for not pledging allegiance to Emperor Domitian as Lord. It was only because of Domitian's death, and a new emperor who was sympathetic to the Christians, that John was released. John spent 18 months on Patmos in exile, then returned to Ephesus where he died a natural death at 105. 

While he was there with his scribe Procorus he had a revelation from Jesus about the things that would soon take place. He wrote the seven churches all along in the same mail route as Ephesus. These were brothers and sisters who suffered and worshipped together. He could see the coast of modern day Turkey and wrote one day "there would be no sea," maybe his own longing for fellowship.

We think Procorus delivered the Revelation to the churches before John was released. Imagine what it would have been like for him to return to  his church in Ephesus, and be visited in his old age by church leaders from the other six churches. 

John, what was it like to see Jesus again? 
How did you know we struggled with immorality and the Nicolaitans?
Thank you for the encouragement--we have stayed faithful.
Jesus is with us, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.

We visited the cave believed to be John's where he heard Jesus speak "like the sound of rushing waters" -- which is what it would have sounded like in a cave.

What John writes to the early church perhaps had as great an impact on the early church as the thousands of miles Paul traveled. Towards the end of the first century the churches had been persecuted, beaten down and were losing hope. Their choice was to worship the emperor as Lord and Savior (who held all power over buying and selling, required total allegiance, and whose temples were massively impressive) or worship Jesus (who was not here in the flesh, had left them).

Christians have read, debated, ignored, set up communes, cults and written books about this book of the New Testament. Conferences and denominations disagree about when Jesus will return and what will happen to believers.

What I think gets lost is this is a revelation of Jesus.  Just in the first three chapters we discover who he is to John, his readers and us:
Jesus,
who is, and who was, 
and who is to come,
the faithful witness, 
the firstborn from the dead,
the ruler of the kings of the earth,
who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
who has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, 
the Almighty,
the son of man.
I am the First and the Last.
I am the Living One;
I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever!
I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I hold the keys of death and Hades, the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Jesus, 
who is holy and true, 
who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can shut,
the Amen, 
the faithful and true witness, 
the ruler of God’s creation.

----

Regardless how events unfold or when Jesus returns, or what kind of persecution we might face, I wonder--

Will we be faithful to Jesus?
Will we invite him in?
Will we renew our first love?
Will we fall at his feet, like John, and worship him?
Will we repent?
Will we live with the hope of a new heaven and earth?
Will we tell the story of the one who lived, died, was raised again, and who will come again?
About the one who is making all things new?

The monastery dedicated to John began in the 11th century. Stones from a fourth century temple are used as pavers. As many as 150 monks have been on the rolls and currently there are 30. Prayer has been continuously in this place for 900 years. Monks reproduced and preserved ancient Greek and biblical texts since the 700s. Icons of biblical stories, saints and Jesus beautifully painted have inspired worship for generations.

Seems like one way to keep the lampstand burning and telling the story from one generation to another. All inspired by the 18 month exile of a pastor who loved his Savior and missed his people.

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