John opens the majestic revelation he received on the Isle of Patmos with a splendidly balanced greeting. Kingdom life is given breadth and perspective here by this most durable of the disciples, who lived for Christ more than sixty years after the Lord ascended to glory. Now, exiled to an island in a maximum security prison as an enemy of the state, John had “seen it all.”
This man spanned the whole panorama of ministry with miracles and signs of God’s gracious kingdom power. He’s the one who reminds us of Jesus’ words: “The works that I do shall you who follow me do—and greater than these!” (John 14:12). He is no doubter of miracle might. Yet here we see the apostle imprisoned and in a place of apparent helplessness.
It’s a healthy reminder of two things: (1) Kingdom people do not always gain immediate victories; but, (2) Jesus always comes to be with His kingdom’s people in the midst of their trials! (Look at verses 10–20, which contain the most magnificent picture of Christ in the entire Bible.) It is encouraging to hear John place the words “tribulation” (i.e., trials and troubles) in the same phrase as “kingdom” (authority and victory).
Kingdom people aren’t immune to hard times, but, praise God, the King always meets them there!