When the New Testament refers to “the cross of Christ” (1Cor. 1:17) it is also referring to His journey to the cross (known as His ‘passion’). This journey (Christ’s passion) began on earth with His incarnation in the womb of the virgin Mary. While the incarnation of the Word was the greatest miracle, His work on the cross was the greatest public miracle. It is also true that the death of Christ on the cross has now provided the means by which any repentant sinner can be forgiven of their sins and made right with God. But it is also true that the death of Christ on the cross means not just this, and, much more than this. This also involves understanding that not only does the New Testament use the expression the cross or the cross of Christ to include the events leading up to the cross, it also encompasses the events proceeding after the cross – including Christ’s resurrection, ascension and glorification.
A year earlier all hell had broken loose when the tyrant emperor Caesar Nero had outlawed Christianity; and now, the last surviving apostle of Christ had been banished to Patmos Island. All looked bleak. The youngest of Christ’s apostles, John was just a teenager when he witnessed the brutal and protracted execution of Jesus. John, now in his fifties, had many reasons to feel disappointed and even disillusioned with God. His apostolic colleagues had each been martyred – having been put to death in often gruesome ways including: crucifixion, flaying, and beheading. On this barren rocky island, separated from the woman he had pledged to her crucified Son that he would look after, and away from the people that Christ had shed His blood for, John was alone. Ever since Jesus had risen bodily from dead, these life-time faithful sabbath-keeping Jews now recognised that Christ had sanctified the first day of the week, Sunday, as His day. It was also on this sanctified day that Christ poured out Holy Spirit on his gathered disciples. Ever since that day, no matter how he felt or the circumstances he was in, John had made it his custom to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. And his first Sunday on this island of banishment was no exception. He was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. While some weak Christians find disappointment with God an excuse to forsake God, John did not. While some weak Christians allow their excuses for disappointment with God to walk away from their church family, John did not. John’s example has something to teach us.
¶ 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. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…