September 06, 2019

Stuck on Patmos

Revelation 1:9

I, John . . . was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

—  Revelation 1:9

Patmos was not a pastor’s retreat center. It was used by the Roman authorities as a dead-end place of isolation and shame. Offending citizens were exiled to the island of Patmos to learn a lesson: Rome declared that there was no Lord but Caesar. As a leader in the Christian church, however, John had taught people that Jesus Christ is Lord—which he is. So Rome removed John from contact with Christians and churches “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”

This must have created a great hardship for John and for many communities of believers during that time. John would have experienced loneliness and isolation. The churches would have missed his preaching, teaching, and time spent with them.

Rome thought it could disrupt the life and mission of the church. But Patmos was not so isolated as Rome wanted it to be. God can go anywhere, so it was no problem for the Spirit of God to visit John in this isolated, “godforsaken” place and turn it into a stage revealing the power and majesty of the true Lord and Savior. On Patmos, John received an awe-inspiring vision of Jesus, who revealed to him some of the astonishing greatness of God’s kingdom.

May God’s Patmos-trans­form­ing story give us courage, especially when we feel as if “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” have brought us to a difficult place.

Almighty Lord of all lords and King of all kings, “yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Amen.

About the author — Jim Poelman

Pastor Jim Poelman and his wife, Linda, served five churches in Ontario and British Columbia for thirty-nine years. They enjoy family gatherings with their extended household of children and grandchildren—29 members in all—often creating lots of happy noise.

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