John introduces himself not only as a brother, but as a partner. A companion of common experience. A fellow participant. Surely, as he wrote, he was thinking of those not on the island who were experiencing some of the same persecution that resulted in his exile to the island. But, as I was taught, while he may have written to them he also wrote for us. Thus, we too are partners. John’s partners. And, as such, it tells us something about we can expect from kingdom dynamics.
I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
(Revelation 1:9 ESV)
The tribulation. The kingdom. The patient endurance. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.
All of them are in Jesus. All come with salvation. All of them part of the deal.
To be sure, we expect to get the kingdom. After all Jesus came proclaiming the good news of the kingdom (Mr. 4:23). To those with ears to hear, He also was prepared to make known the secrets of the kingdom (Mt. 13:11). And for those who received the kingdom by faith, He encouraged them to seek first the kingdom (Mt. 6:33). For the kingdom is like a treasure in the field worth selling all in order to obtain it (Mt. 13:44).
Yeah, John, I’m in. A participant in heavenly things above while still on earth. A partner in the kingdom in Jesus.
But the tribulation thing? Who signed up for that? Uh, evidently we did.
I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
As long as the kingdom of light exists amidst the dominion of darkness, there’s gonna be tribulation. Despite being new creations, we’re still living among the old corruption — so there’s gonna be some dissonance. Though we’re people of the Way, we’re still navigating the world. We can expect some bumps, scrapes, and bruises along the way. And this too is in Jesus.
But take the kingdom, add in some tribulation, and through the indwelling, empowering Spirit we can also know the patient endurance. It’s the third mark of being in Jesus.
You know the people of God are the people of God ’cause they keep on keepin’ on — with a strength beyond themselves (Php. 4:13), a grace that truly is sufficient (2Cor. 12:9), and a peace that passes understanding (Php. 4:7). They press on for the prize (Php. 3:14), they fight the good fight (2Tim. 4:7), because they believe that they are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Rom. 8:37).
The result? Patient endurance in Jesus.
The tribulation. The kingdom. The patient endurance. Not sure you can only have one in Jesus and not the others. Thinking they might be a set.
So, if we are John’s partners, thinking that’s the deal.
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.