Most charismatics love the book of Acts. It’s filled with miracles, adventures, and powerful preachers of the gospel. From Peter to Stephen to Paul, it is filled with some of the most well-known people of the Bible. Yet, one major person is absent for most of the book.
That person is the disciple, John.
While John walks with Peter to the temple in Acts 3, he is rarely heard of after the outpouring at Pentecost in Acts 2. So what happened to him? John tells us himself in his gospel.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 20:26-27)
The reason why you don’t hear of John in Acts is because he was taking care of Mary, Jesus’ mother, for most likely 15-20 years after Jesus ascended. While his friends were traveling, preaching the gospel and working signs and wonders, John stayed with Mary at home. Instead of starting thriving church plants, he would stay around Mary and go to their simple gathering, praying and reading the Word.
The task of taking care of Mary wouldn’t last forever. Many scholars think Mary died around 50AD. It was then that John did a little traveling around Ephesus, yet scripture doesn’t mention it. Paul mentions many great people in his letters, but never mentions John. Even though John’s life got less mundane, it didn’t get less hidden, even though the churches loved this “elder of love” who would visit and speak at their churches.
Can you imagine the thoughts that John possibly had over these years? I wonder if he thought he was missing out. What were his stories when Peter would come back from his travels? Did he miss being in apostolic authority over churches like his brother James was? He was the closest disciple to Jesus, yet he didn’t get to participate in any of the new exciting things the Lord was doing.
Years later, the Roman authorities would begin hunting down and persecuting the apostles. John would eventually be exiled to Patmos. Some scholars say that Patmos was home to a Roman stronghold and labor camp. Whether Patmos was a labor camp or a deserted island, John’s life had reached a whole new level of mundaness and hiddenness.
No friends. No family. No church. No public ministry.
Yet, it was at this time that God would give John the greatest vision in the New Testament. Not since Daniel or Ezekiel had a man seen God, the future, and heaven, and was able to write it down. With one vision, all the years waiting in hiddenness, doing mundane things instead of traveling the world preaching the gospel, became worth it. John had been faithful in secret and the Father rewarded him in secret (Matthew 6:1-4).
Likewise, many times God calls people to mundane and hidden lifestyles. While others may be called to great and public things, these people wrestle with a life that looks boring. While others are visiting many nations, these people rarely leave their state. While great opportunities open for others, these people find themselves working at a local pizza shop or grocery store for years of their life, wondering where all the promises, callings, prophecies, education, and preparation has got them. They may eventually get to minister, but they will never pastor a mega-church or tour the nations with the most popular worship teams. Rather they will minister and love a few churches and pour themselves, in love, into them.
It will be in this place that God will grant them the greatest revelation of Jesus. The path of mundane hiddenness eventually leads to the revelation of God. His revelation makes all the decades of tediousness worth it. I realize that all my heroes of the faith, people like St John of the Cross and Brother Lawrence, all had one thing in common: a mundane hidden life.
I guess the question for us is whether having a greater revelation of Jesus is worth decades of mundane hiddenness.
Remember, only 10% of Jesus’ life looked exciting. 90% of His life was spent in hiddenness, doing mundane things (carpentry, anyone?), but that 10% changed the world. How willing are we to follow Jesus’ and John’s example?