After reading that title if you’re a Christian, or anyone really, you might be thinking whaaattt? Why? well, because most Christians believe John the Beloved passed away from old age, even though that is different from all the other apostles who died as martyrs in some horrific ways.
The Jewish Sanhedrin & Roman Empire where both wickedly united in for the extinction of Christianity, so it seems odd that John wouldn’t be killed like the rest.
Perhaps, it is difficult to think outside the normal life narrative of how things happen. “You get old, You die.”
But the fact that John would not taste of death isn’t really hidden in the bible at all. In fact, it is really straightforward in the book of John, Chapter 21.
John records this as the 3rd time the resurrected savior had appeared to his disciples. Technically, I believe this is incorrect. According to other records of the gospels. Christ first appeared to Mary Magdalene, then to Cleopas and other disciple while they were on the road to Emmaus, and then again to the eleven and some other disciples.
I guess it would be the 3rd visit as John records if you don’t count the single exclusive appearance to Mary Magdalene.
From the record this seems like this is the 2nd time that Peter, James, & John have a visit from the resurrected Christ. The people present in this interaction are Peter, James, John the Beloved, Thomas Didymus, Nathaneal of Cana and two other unnamed disciples, so 7 people in total.
Here is the background, Peter has decided to go fishing and these other 6 follow him. They don’t catch anything that night and in the morning there is someone on the shore and asks if they have any meat.
They answer that they don’t. The stranger then responds cast your nets on the right side. They do this and instantly the net is full of fish, so much so that they can’t hall it up.
At this time John the Beloved recognizes it is Christ. He says to Peter “It is the Lord.” Peter then puts on a coat because he was naked, and casts himself into the sea and swims to shore.
The other disciples come up the shore later with the boat and the net is pulled to shore, the net has 153 fish.
Christ then provides bread with the fish and has them eat together.
During this conversation Christ asks Peter a certain question that is key to understanding why Christ granted John the Beloved power over death.
John 21:15 ¶ So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep.
After this topic of feeding the savior’s sheep, another topic is brought up. Peter’s death. We know the savior talked to Peter about how he would die to glorify god. Read the following verses.
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Dinner takes some time so we’re not sure about everything that was said in this conversation, just what is recorded. We know from verse 25 that a lot more was conversed and done but was not recorded in the gospels we have, probably for good reason. However, we do know the savior stressed the importance of feeding his sheep then talked about Peter’s death, possibly some of the others as well.
The next verses are where Christ promised John the Beloved he would not die.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
It is my belief that during this conversation Christ had stressed the importance of feeding his sheep (those that would accept Christ). After he may have asked them of what they righteously desired.
Peter & James and some of the others seeing the resurrected Savior with great excitement may have desired to speedily come to Christ to be with him in his kingdom. Thus, he talked about their death.
John the Beloved however was a bit different. He was still internalizing the Christ’s teaching of feeding his sheep. He thought “what would the savior desire of me to ask for” instead of “what righteous desire might for myself.” Peter & James and others desired good things but John desired something better.
Christ was now resurrected and he fully realized now Christ had power over death. He desired power over death that he might stay upon the earth and serve in bringing souls unto Christ until his return.
It is my belief that Christ probably hoped they would have all asked for this same thing, but John was the only one who requested it.
Reading this encounter you can deduce a few details are missing. For example, Peter asked Jesus “What shall this man do?” referring to John.
Peter must have said something because the savior gave a kind, gentle, rebuke of “If he tarry until I come, what is that to thee?”
Perhaps, Peter may after witnessing John’s desire had some regret realizing he could have desired something better. I’m not faulting Peter in anyway. Peter was and still is amazing. I’m only trying to makes sense of the record that is written and ask you do the same.
John Is Unique
To point out some of John’s uniqueness in the same chapter verse 7 it was John who was the first to recognize once the nets were full that it was Christ who was on the shore.
He told Peter who then swam to shore. Also, in Chapter 20 we read that when Mary Magdalene, and other women, had informed Peter and John of the empty tomb we read that John outran Peter.
This was not recorded just so John could claim he outran Peter that day. It was recorded because once John arrived at the tomb, he did not enter sepulchre. He allowed Peter to catch up and then enter.
John’s excitement caused him to outrun Peter, He also first recognized it was the resurrected Lord on the shore but in both cases he let Peter go to the Savior first.
Out of respect for Peter and the Savior. John might have had the title of “The Beloved” but Christ had said Peter was the Rock upon which he would establish his church. He was the lead senior apostle and would lead the church once the savior was gone.
Many of the other apostles and disciples deeply revered and loved the savior but only John held the title of “My Beloved.”
It was John who was entrusted with the care of Christ’s mother. Christ may have had other siblings at that time that could have cared for his mother, but he made sure to let John know to care for her as well and for his mother to see John as a son. He said “Woman, behold thy son.” “Son, behold thy Mother.”
John remained close to the Savior during the darkest hours of his life. He was present in Gethsemane. He was at the trial. He would have been witness to the scourging. He likely walked beside him as Christ carried his cross. John alone is the only apostle recorded as being at the feet of the savior during his crucifixion.
It was John who was at the mount of transfiguration with Peter, James, and Jesus. When Jesus was transfigured and Moses and Elias a.k.a. John the Baptist (Matt 17:12-13) appeared before them.
It appears to me that Peter, James, & John were apostles that were very close with the savior and would be the head senior apostles to lead the church. Being on the mount of transfiguration being instructed to keep the experiene to themselves suggests they were likely privy to more information than any others, and therefore have authority and responsibilities different than the rest.
John the Beloved was also a disciple of John the Baptist, but when John the Baptist had revealed the Savior, John the Beloved straightway followed the Savior. This shows John’s life was one of great discipline and religious study.
Why Does This Matter?
So the scriptures didn’t give us this information as just “feel good info,” that’s nice non-applicable. This information is especially applicable to people living in the latter-days.
While the earthly missions of Peter & James may be over because they died and have gone to heaven. The mission of John is not.
Consider the following scripture in the book of revelations.
8 And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9 And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
Now I don’t pretend to understand all the imagery in this vision, but I believe I can grasp the main parts of it.
John grabs a book that an angel is holding and he eats the book. A book represents information, possibly knowledge or things about the future related to this vision. In fact, the angel holding the open book may have been reading it, but John was told not to recorded what the angel had uttered but to go and take the book. After eating the book he’s is immediately told that he must prophesy again before many peoples, nations, and tongues and kings.
I believe the book represents knowledge, information that John is privy to. Accepting this revelation and information to follow the savior also means the book represents a mission that John has to accomplish that mission requiring him to prophecy again to many peoples, nations, and tongues, and kings.
I’m not sure what to make of the sweet as honey, but bitter in his belly. Perhaps, it is just like any of the Lord’s assignments having both bitter and sweet parts to them. Bitterness possibly due the persecution he will incur and the destruction he must inflict, disappoint for some who will reject the lord, but in another sense, sweet when saving souls and performing the Lord’s desired work.
So the question is has John fulfilled this mission? Answer: Not completely.
John was banished to the isle of Patmos by Emperor Domitian. This emperor ruled at the later end of the 1st century. Thus, John’s banishment to Patmos was at later date after which most, if not all the other apostles of Christ had been martyred.
He was told at that time in vision that he would again prophecy before many peoples, nations, and tongues, and kings. If John was to die of Old age he would have been a very old man at the time of this vision.
It wouldn’t make sense to give the assignment to travel the world prophesying to someone who has death at the doors.
In one sense, John has prophesied to many tongues, kings, and nations. He wrote the book of John, 3 epistles, and the book of revelations that has been translated in many languages.
However, John at a later date in the latter days will still prophecy before many kings, tongues, nations, and peoples.
“According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics) John was banished (presumably to Patmos) after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it. It is said that all in the audience of Colosseum were converted to Christianity upon witnessing this miracle. This event would have occurred in the late 1st century, during the reign of the Emperor Domitian, who was known for his persecution of Christians (1).”
Thus, John was banished to an Isle because he couldn’t be killed. Eventually, John would leave this island to continue the Lord’s work but would remain unknown to the world until his mission requires him to reveal himself again.
One last verse to consider
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.
12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
In the verse we just read Isaiah is speaking of a time in the latter days that talks about a root of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David, who came from the tribe of Judah. Since Isaiah is speaking about the latter days we know the root of Jesse means one of Jesse’s descendents who establishes an ensign the peaceful people of the world can look to for hope and gather together.
I don’t know of any record displaying John’s pedigree. We know he was from the tribe of Judah and a son of Zebedee. That lineage is supportive. I would venture to guess he is also a descendent of Jesse.
The Lord works in patterns John the Baptist was the forerunner to prepare the nation of Israel for the Savior’s ministry. John the Beloved was mentored by John the Baptist and got to see him perform this work.
John the Beloved will be the forerunner to prepare the world for Christ’s return. Ephesians 4:5 states “One Lord, One Faith, One baptism.”
Currently, Christianity is far from that ideal. The several different sects have all kinds of different beliefs. John will play a role in helping restoring Christianity to this ideal.
My question to you my fellow Christians is when someone with great power & authority shows himself to the world and claims to be a 2000+ year old man named John the Beloved will you have the faith to follow him knowing he’ll prepare you for the coming of the Savior?
If you continue to study God’s word, pray, and ponder over this message I know you will.
I hope you enjoyed this post. I’ll be adding more related to the mission of John in the future. My understanding of the bible and other holy writ has me believe that prior to John’s making himself known unto us things will get very bad, especially in the United States, such as civil unrest, government collapse, economic failure of the economy.
For this purpose I have written this blog habitat for survival to provide you with information needed to prepare for the days when the Lord’s wrath will be poured out without measure on this world.
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God Bless You