This has long been one of my favorite verses in the New Testament, for in this one verse we find that two very different men draw one quality from the same source. They both became bold by being with Jesus. However, the boldness they shared was not the same kind of boldness. Peter and John were both courageous, but Peter’s courage was a very different kind of courage from John’s. It was as different as the sun is from the moon.
When the Lord gives the same quality to two different men, He doesn’t in effect make them the same kind of man. The light that shines on a rock comes from the same source as the light that shines on the river, but nobody would mistake the light on the river with the light on the rock. The same goes for Peter and John. Even though they both possessed a certain courage, it was a different kind of courage. In fact, they weren’t just different, in some ways they were complete opposites. Peter’s courage was the kind that strikes; John’s one that waits. Peter possessed a force of action; John one of enduring. Peter pulled his sword; John rested on His Master’s chest. Peter jumped out and crossed the sea to meet Jesus; John waited til He came. Peter went rushing into the grave to see where Jesus body had laid; John simply looked in – keeping the image of His suffering and sorrow in His heart.
Sometimes our personalities will naturally gravitate toward the nature that most closely resembles our own, but the truth is that Christ needs both. There are times when the courage of the hand is needed and there are times when His Kingdom calls for the courage of the heart. This is the kind of courage that has the power to wait when nothing can be done. To keep the spirit up when the hand must be held down.
Life has both its Galilees and its Patmoses; it’s places where work is required and those where waiting is called for, and both places call for courage. But upon personal reflection, I believe that my soul would need Patmos’ courage more than Galilee’s. John’s courage is certainly not as flashy or flamboyant as Peter’s, but I believe it is more difficult because there are those who could be bold in dusty Galilee who couldn’t be so on rocky Patmos.
It is hard to keep hope in sight when you’re all by yourself on an island. In comparison, it’s rather easy to be bold before the battle when the many are inspiring and encouraging you – cheering you on, but to have courage in isolation, to be bold when nobody is watching, when your only company are your own thoughts is a very difficult thing indeed. You see, the most desperate moments of life are not normally found in Galilee, but on Patmos. The deepest struggles are always in the wilderness. The greatest call of courage is the one to endure, not to look at the mountain and say, “Move out of the way!” It is a far greater thing to have that mountain on your chest and not lose heart. Yes, the courage of faith may be able to cast it into the sea, but the courage of heart can hold up under its weight. There are certainly brave soldiers who meet Jesus in Galilee, but I have come to believe that the greatest honors of Heaven are reserved for the patient people of Patmos.
“Lord, may my soul meet You at Patmos. Amen.”