“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”John 20:30-31
John, the one whom Jesus loved, is often revered for his extensive writings and historical accounts of Christ, but he also displayed supernatural courage throughout his life. From the day Jesus called John to follow Him, John faced criticism and threats for his association with Jesus. Due to his unwavering faith in Christ, John’s enduring love places him at the foot of the cross providing support for Jesus’ mother, Mary, as they watched Him die. In John 19, we read that from the cross Jesus asks John to care for His mother. We know from verse 27 that from that time, John took Mary into his home and cared for her as he would have cared for his own mother.
John never writes very much of his own suffering. We rely on extra-biblical literature to explain the attempted executions, beatings, and other torture that John endured throughout the remainder of his life. For example, Tertullian (On the Prescription of Heresies 36) tells of the Roman attempt to boil John alive in oil. John survives the attempted execution and spends the rest of his life in exile on the island of Patmos where he receives and writes the book of Revelation.
As much as we rely on the writings of John, the beloved disciple, for our own knowledge of Jesus, I would like to focus for a moment on the courage John displayed at the foot of the cross. Consider that in the prior 12 hours Jesus had been arrested, tried, beaten, and forced to carry His cross through crowded streets to Calvary. While the other apostles had hidden in fear, John was in the shadow of Jesus—even at the foot of the cross. Clearly, John would have been recognized as a follower of Christ because he had been there every step of the way.
One can easily assume that the berating crowds would have also hurled insults at John and the other witnesses at the foot of the cross. We can easily imagine the insults. It would not be difficult to assume that John was also spat upon or hit with sharp stones that detractors may have hurled toward the cross. He would have likely been kicked or pushed aside by Roman soldiers who thought he was getting too close. Perhaps he was considered a threat to the soldiers as if he would try to help Jesus escape. The courage that John showed at the foot of the cross is unimaginable. At the same time, that same fearlessness is what propelled John into a lifetime commitment with invincible courage.
Because of his loyal friendship, his unquestionable faithfulness, and his unwavering courage, John was there as Jesus died; he was there to bury Jesus, and John was there to witness Jesus’ appearing after the resurrection. Because of John’s amazing courage, he was able to withstand a lifetime of persecution. He was able to persevere through the most daunting abuse and torture. Through every trial, John bore witness to his undeniable experience of walking with God incarnate. No prosecutor could bring sufficient evidence against him. No court could overcome the boldness of his testimony. No earthly government could silence him.
Questions for Thought
- How can you demonstrate your faithful friendship to others, especially during a time of cultural crisis?
- Even in times of testing, the Holy Spirit provides strength and courage. How has God strengthened you in recent days?
Identify one person in your life who needs to hear the gospel, and commit to share with them. This is how we demonstrate the love Jesus talks about in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jeff loves the Sunday School environment at First Baptist Dallas because it is through Sunday School that a big church becomes small and people find community. Jeff and Sheri have adult children. In their spare time, they like to walk their dogs and spend time fixing up an old cottage on the family farm.