I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Good leaders condescend. They come down to their followers. It is the truth of their loftiness that makes their lowliness so meaningful. The quest for equality and equity, therefore, is a quest for the destruction of good leaders, of good fathers.
John is the apostle of Christ, the elder of the church, the uniquely beloved of our Lord and Savior. It is to him that Jesus gave charge over his mother, Mary, upon his death on the cross. Apart from the likes of Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, and Paul, it is hard to compete with the greatness of this man.
And what does he say to churches facing hardship and persecution, from Jews and Romans? He says, “I am your brother and companion in tribulation. I am your brother and companion in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.”
What I call you to in following Christ I myself bear. I’m writing not from a place of comfort and distance from the heat. I’m writing from exile for my obedience to Christ and my holding to his testimony. Bear what I bear. Do what I do. Watch me mean what I say to you. I am your brother and companion.
In this John follows after his Master, who descended from lofty heights to take the form of a slave and walk the persecuted road of obedience all the way to death on the cross. Christ does not ask us to go into the Valley of the Shadow of Death where he has never trodden. He calls us to walk through that valley following in his very footsteps.
This kind of condescension is the way of good fatherhood, lowering yourself to your son in order to lift him up onto the very path you walk. This is central to good coaching. My best coach in middle school and high school would oftentimes join the team in punishment, assuming responsibility as our leader, and run hills with us.
You can say all the right things. But you have to be like Jesus, like the apostle John. Where is your blood? Where is the dirt? Where are the calluses, the splinters, the bruises? Do you know about or are you about it? And do you come down into it to be about it?
John is our brother and companion.