Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In liturgical artwork the apostle John is normally pictured as a very young man. There's adequate reason to think this is correct, since we have credible witnesses who speak of his living in Ephesus in the late 90s or even into the early second century. This would mean he lived around seventy years after the resurrection. That's a long time. He would have to be pretty young when walking around with Jesus.
John is also pictured as being quite old when he wrote the Gospel, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse. This has led many to attempt an identification of a different author, a bishop or elder, who is responsible for those writings. I won't try to get into that debate just now. It isn't the point of the post. If anyone wants to study it and reach an informed opinion, have at it.
John 21:22-23 suggests that when he wrote the Gospel, John was older than most people. He recalls that Peter had asked about John's future demise. Jesus said that it didn't matter. If John was to remain until the Lord's coming, it would be fine. Rather, Jesus told Peter to follow him. This led some people to suggest that John would not die.
They really would not have made that suggestion unless John was outliving a lot of people. We get the idea from the passage in John 21 that John is saying he is mortal, just like the other apostles, and that Jesus had simply not called him home yet. This isn't the kind of statement we would expect from an apostle who was 25 when Jesus said this to him and who is now 45 years old writing a Gospel. It sounds more like something that a man in his sixties, seventies, or even eighties would say.
Regardless of the age of John, what do we learn from this passage of the Gospel? Jesus lovingly calls his disciples to follow him. He is able to keep them, to guard them wherever they go, whether they are going to death at a young age due to persecution or whether they are going to die at a very advanced age of natural causes. He can keep his people no matter what. We can trust that the Lord will keep us as well. Jesus can do whatever he sets out to do. This is the great good news of the Gospel. It's the lesson we take with us from John, the apostle and evangelist.
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