By Michael Winkelman
Today’s Advent reading is titled, Love.
From the Gospel of John, in chapter 1 verses 10 through 14 it reads:
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (New King James Version)
Outcasts, criminals, dissidents; enemies of Rome. The landscape was littered with the poor wretches as they worked tirelessly to their deaths. Banished to live their lives forever on this craggy bit of Earth called Patmos, the Roman authorities condemned them to a life of endless labor and hardship. Love, compassion, joy, these enemies of Rome were empty of it all. The emptiness could be seen in their blank stares, in their shoulders hunched over, their blistered feet shuffling through the dirt and dust. But for the man who observed these prisoners who shared his own condemnation, his eyes were filled with passion and drive.
John overlooked the island of Patmos that was seemingly void of goodness, yet even here he could see the beauty in the Lord's creation and purpose. John took notice of the waves crashing against the coast, the rocky slopes against the blue sky, and he gave thanks for the Lord's goodness. John had been cast out, beaten, poisoned and left for dead, but he was resolute in his knowledge and understanding of God's will. John was immovable because he understood one truth that no person or empire, nor the forces of hell could take away from him: God loved him.
Yes, John remembered the message of God's love found in the ministry of his Master. John remembered the moment Jesus taught Nicodemus the way of the Gospel and the second birth of the Spirit. John remembered as Jesus explained the intimate nature of the New Covenant relationship through the consumption of His body and blood. John remembered as Jesus encouraged them before His arrest and taught them to love one another as He loved them. Yes, John remembered as he saw his Master nailed to the tree without mercy. God loved him, and was willing to reveal that great love through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
John was immovable in his knowledge of this great truth, because through the resurrection and victory of his Master and the great birth that occurred on the day of Pentecost, John knew that this love could never be ripped away from him. John was encouraged, though he was surrounded by sorrow and darkness, for the light of the world was inside of him. Yes, the presence of his Master, the Holy Spirit, testified to the love of God and gave John strength to face the day. John rested in the covering of this peace and began to commune with the Father. In this intimate moment of prayer John prayed that the Lord's will be done, and he gave thanks. Despite the doom and seemingly endless despair that surrounded John he thanked his Father for His everlasting love, and in that moment John was taken by the Spirit.
A voice, a mighty voice spoke to John. It was like a trumpet blast, raging waters and the thundering of a powerful storm all at once. John turned to see the one that spoke to him, and he saw One that looked like his Master. But this One who stood before Him, stood and looked at John with a raging fire in His eyes. His garment was white and pure, a golden band was about his chest. This One held the glory and power of the stars within His hands, and His countenance shown like the sun in its full might on a hot summer day. John fell at the feet of this One, he crumpled to the ground as if he was dead. John was void of all strength, all will or courage, he was petrified as the mightiest Being he had ever laid his eyes on stood over him. But as John hid his face in utter fear, he felt the light touch of a hand resting upon his shoulder. John felt the sudden surge of warmth and strength and peace overwhelm him, He looked up and saw that this Mighty One had knelt down and laid his hand upon John's shoulder. John looked into those eyes of raging fire and realized that he looked into the eyes of his Master. "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death" (Rev. 1:17-18). John felt immense joy as he heard the encouraging words of Jesus. His Warrior-King, the One who loved him, had something to say.
In this Revelation given to John, he saw the fulfillment of God's will and the fulfillment of this great and noble truth: God is love, God will prevail; love will prevail. For John, Christ was love. The Lord Jesus Christ is our love.
From the book of Revelation in chapter 1, verses 5 and 6 it reads:
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.
To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
About the Author:
Michael Winkelman is former US Army Airborne and a current Law Enforcement Officer. Mikey works as a Patrol Sergeant, SWAT Team Leader, and Firearms Instructor. Mikey is also the author of Sing Your Warsong, Christian! A beautiful and powerful devotional written for a fellow brother-in-arms. We highly suggest you snag a copy!