Days Gone By (part 1 of 3)
1 John 2:1-6
The old apostle shuffled slowly over to the fire. It was winter in Ephesus, and he was cold. “Not unusual for someone in his ninth decade,” he smiled to himself. A cup of hot tea would warm his hands, and likely knock the edge off his chill. It would also help clear his head—too many thoughts and memories colliding with one another. It would give him strength to complete the task he had set out to accomplish.
John thought back over the course of his life and experiences. He was the last of the apostles. The rest had suffered martyrdom. “Well, except for Judas,” he reminded himself. That remembrance brought a sigh and a moment of wistful regret. “So much pain and confusion in that time,” he remembered. John wondered, as he often did, how he had survived. More than that, he wondered why it was he who had survived. He had lived through the Herodian dynasty, not to mention Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Vespasian (and that crazy year of three emperors!), as well as Titus and Domitian. Now it was Trajan’s turn. He chuckled as he said aloud to himself, “Regardless what Rome may decide next, at my age this is surely my last emperor.” Testing his tea, he declared it good, and made his way to his desk near the window.
The community around him had already begun to come to life, so John pulled aside the drape to look outside. Children were beginning their play, and the sounds they made brought him as much warmth as did the tea. He knew the families around him—Christian families—and it brought him great joy to know that they were near. The boys were playing games based on the old stories their parents had told them about the life of Jesus (most of which, John knew, their parents had learned from John himself). His mind went back to those early days—he remembered the powerful preaching of John the Baptist (“what were his parents’ names? Wasn’t his father a priest?”). “What a strange and charismatic man John was,” he thought. Tears formed in his eyes as he recalled John’s end, and what seemed to mark the beginning of opposition to the message of Christ. “So many people are gone, and for so long,” he reminisced. Tears fell freely as he turned to his papyrus and pen.
He had begun a letter to his Christian brothers and sisters—“my Christian children” as he thought of them. Throughout the process his mind was taken back to Galilee, to those glorious and terrifying three years of work. He shook his head and grinned as he recalled Philip telling of Nathanael’s caustic response to the appearance of the Christ. “Old Philip refused to be deterred,” John said to himself. “Come and see” the old apostle repeated Philip’s response as he broke into a hearty laugh. His laugh ended in a sigh as he turned again to the page to continue his letter:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.