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Today is the feast day of St. John the Evangelist and Apostle. St. John was one of the first disciples of Jesus, one of the sons of Zebedee. He was the only Apostle to stay with Jesus at the cross, and was gifted by Jesus to take care of St. Mary after Jesus' death. After the Ascension, John stayed in Jerusalem and then went to Ephesus and was the Bishop there. During his life he wrote "The Gospel according to St. John, three epistles that are under his name, and the Revelation to St. John." Under the Domitian persecution, John was exiled to the Island of Patmos and tradition says he returned to Ephesus and died there at the age of 100. St. John died in the Lord and to this day, as recorded in the Gospel, is known as the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.
Like with Stephen yesterday, we thank Jesus for the life, salvation, and death of St. John. John's life was a witness of the work of Jesus the Christ for the salvation of sinful man. John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote in the Gospel saying," 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." Everything written by John, the Gospel, the epistles, and the Revelation, was written in order that we may know the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. John preached not the works of man for salvation, but the work of Jesus for the salvation of all sinners. John suffered for the Gospel in his life and did not forsake the Faith, not because he relied on his steadfastness, but because he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the means of grace as he suffered the persecutions of this world. We look to the life of St. John and see that we suffer as those who are loved by God, destined for eternal life where there is peace that knows no end.
We also thank God for the death of St. John. Most of us will die the way John did. We won't due a martyr's death, but probably die from the causes of sins, meaning we will die of old age. But this is still something for which we should be prepared. The devil, the world, and the Old Adam will work to rip us away from Christ as long as we have breath in us. Only Jesus, in the forgiveness of our sins, keeps us in His grace and mercy, in order that we don't fall away from the Faith. We thank God that He kept John 100 years in His grace and mercy and ushered him into heaven. May God deliver us from this present evil age as well and keep us just as He kept John in the Faith. In the life and death of John, we see an example of Jesus mercy in that He saved John and granted him eternal salvation by shedding His blood on the cross for him.
May we this evening receive the same gifts that John did in this life, and now receives in life eternal. Tonight we have the Divine Service at 630, with Pastor Daniels preaching tonight and we will receive the Sacrament of the Altar together.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen.