Feast Day — 4th Day of the Coptic Month of Tubah (3rd week of January):
On this day, in the year 100 A.D., St. John, the Evangelist and the Apostle who was the son of Zebedee, departed. St. John Chrysostom said that St. John the Evangelist was originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist. He was the brother of St. James the Elder, who was killed by Herod by the sword. The Lord called both Sts. John and James, “Boanerges” (Mark 3:17), that is to say, “sons of thunder,” for their strong zeal and great faith. He was also the disciple whom Jesus loved.
The lot fell on him to go to Asia after the Lord’s Ascension. The people of Asia were stiff-necked, so he prayed to Christ to be with him. He went to Ephesus, accompanied by his disciple Prochorus. They embarked on a ship, but the ship was wrecked on the way and every one of the passengers clung to a plank of the ship’s wood. The waves washed out Prochorus to an island, but St. John remained among the waves of the sea for several days, until the waves carried him to the same island where his disciple Prochorus was, by the will of God. When they met together, they offered thanks to God for taking care of them.
From there, St. John went to the city of Ephesus and he preached the word of salvation there. The people of Ephesus did not accept him at first, until the day when an only child of his mother fell in the furnace of a public bath managed by her. They got him out of the fire but he was dead and his mother wept bitterly. At this time, St. John went forward, prayed to God and crossed the child, breathed in the child’s face, and life came back to him right away. His mother rejoiced and she kissed the feet of the apostle. From this moment on, the people of the city came to fear his teachings and many believed and were baptized by St. John. This stirred resentment by the pagan priests of the city who tried to kill him several times buy they could not, for the Lord protects all those who love Him. After a great effort and many hardships, St. John led them to the knowledge of God and ordained bishops and priests for them.
From there, he went to other places in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and converted many people to Faith in Christ. Saint John lived ninety years, and they used to carry him to the gatherings of the believers. They would lift him up because of his old age, with great crowds surrounding him and the Saint once lifted up would just say, “My children, love one another.”
He wrote the Gospel that bears his name, the Fourth Gospel according to St. John, and the book of Revelation which describes what he had seen while exiled on the Island of Patmos in the Mediterranean See for being a preacher of Christianity. This revelation was one of divine mysteries, many of which have already taken place, while other parts thereof will still take place in the end days. St. John also wrote the three epistles known by his name. He was with the Lord Jesus Christ at the Transfiguration. He leaned (reclined) on the Lord’s chest at the Last Supper. He asked the Lord, “who is one who shall betray You?” He was also standing near the cross with the Virgin St. Mary and when the Lord said to His mother, “Behold your son,” and to St. John, “Behold your mother.” He was the disciple whom St. Peter asked the Lord about (John 21), “And this one, what of him?” To which the Lord Jesus replied, “If I will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
When St. John felt that he was about to leave this world, he summoned the people and gave them the Body and the Blood of the Lord. He preached to them to be steadfast in their faith, then he departed from the City of Phaesus to a short distance. He commanded his disciple and others to dig a pit for him, and he went down and prayed and bade them farewell. He commanded them to return to the city and to tell the brethren to be steadfast in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, saying, “I am innocent of your blood, for I have never left any command of God that I haven’t told you about, and now, let it be known that you will never see my face again, and God will reward everyone according to his deeds.”
When he said that, they kissed his hand and his feet, and they left him and returned to the city. When the people knew what had happened, they went out to the place where the saint was, and they found that he had departed. They wept and were deeply sad. They talked about his miracles and marveled about his meekness. In spite of the fact that he did not die by the sword, as the rest of the apostles did, he was equal to them in the heavenly glories.