John, The Beloved Apostle
John was the only apostle who never tasted martyrdom. As he stood before the Roman court many gathered to see how the last of the twelve apostles who walked with Jesus would meet with death. Many knew the Lord had told John that he would not die "until Jesus came." This had enraged the Roman leader even further. "This man will die - and today!" he exclaimed.
"How shall we kill him?" the officer asked. "Lions don't always kill Christians, and there have been times the fire did not burn their bodies." "Cutting off their heads is too noble an end for such as these. That is reserved for Roman citizens," said the Emperor. After a few minutes thought, the emperor said, "Prepare a vat of hot burning oil, no one will survive that."
As men rushed to fulfill his order, the herald proclaimed three times, "John the Apostle will be boiled in oil." The crowd cheered their approval. They would be witnesses to the death of John the Beloved. John, one of Jesus' closest friends, was one of the three men Jesus invited into His inner circle. These three, Peter, James, and John, witnessed miracles that the other nine did not. They were the only ones who saw Jesus in all His majesty on the mountaintop, His face shining like the sun and His clothes glowing white as the light. John was so full of zeal and intensity that Jesus nicknamed him and his brother James, "the sons of thunder." The night Jesus was arrested, John followed the soldiers, entered the high priest's courtyard, and watched to see what would happen to his Lord. Of all the disciples, only John stood boldly with the women at the foot of the cross the day Jesus was crucified. The Roman Emperor smirked and said, "If your Jesus is really a God, then ask Him to save you!"
As John waited for the fire to be lit and the oil to boil, he reflected back on other times he had been persecuted for the Gospel. When the paralyzed man at the Temple gate was miraculously healed, he and Peter were arrested and imprisoned overnight. The next day they were threatened by the authorities and told, "Never preach again in the name of Jesus." But all this did was inspire the disciples to pray for more boldness and more GRACE - miraculous signs and wonders through the name of Jesus. A short time later, John was jailed with several other apostles. This time, they were all released by an angel who told them, "Go, and preach in the Temple." The immediately did. For this, they were beaten by the religious leaders, who again commanded, "Do not preach in the name of Jesus." But the apostles, deciding it was better to obey God than man, kept on preaching. The Lord continued to confirm the Word with signs and wonders.
Since then, John had seen the Lord deliver him time and again. He had survived the persecutions of Nero, which had ended the lives of those who remained of the original 12 disciples. The gruff voice of a guard said, "Get up Christian, the oil is ready."
John continued to pray. The crowd rose to their feet, clapping and shouting as the prisoner was lowered into the boiling oil. John raised his hands up to heaven and prayed to God. Against all logic, JOHN WAS NEVER HURT BY THE OIL. He continued to just stand and pray. The emperor's plan had backfired, instead of destroying faith in Jesus, he helped increase it. Frustrated he asked, "Is there no way to destroy this man?"
But before the executioner could answer John was no longer quietly praying, he started worshipping Jesus as loud as he could. "Get this man out of my sight," the emperor screamed.
When this happened, the emperor gave up trying to kill John but banished him to the rocky island of Patmos. For two years, he lived alone in exile. But the Lord was with him and during this time, God revealed to him beautiful scenes and heavenly visions, which he wrote down in the book of Revelation. When Emperor Domitian died in 99 AD, the Roman Senate repealed his judgments and John was released. He was brought back to Ephesus, where he had once been the leader of the church. Even here, he faced persecution and was forced to drink poison. Yet he remained unharmed, just as Jesus promised:
Mark 16:18 - They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
While in Ephesus, John governed the churches in Asia. He read the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke and verified they were true. He then wrote the Gospel of John to add his perspective, as well as the three Epistles of John found in the Bible. John outlived all of the other apostles by more than 30 years. He finally died in peace when he was about 101 years old.
John 16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.