The apostle John had seen many wonderful things in his life. He had lived alongside the Christ for three years, testifying that if all the things that Jesus did "were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (Jn 21.25). He had watched the Lord Jesus perform countless miracles. He had been there on the mountain when the Lord was transfigured, his whole appearance manifesting something of his personal majesty, as he spoke with Moses and Elijah about his exodus. He had laid his head on the chest of his beloved Friend as he ate his last earthly meal, testifying of his coming sacrifice. He had watched as the Son of Man was beaten to a near pulp by his enemies and mocked by his own people. John had stood at a Roman cross as the incarnate God died in darkness, committing his mother to John's filial care as if to a brother. The apostle had sprinted to an empty tomb and looked at the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. He had trembled in a locked room for fear of the Jews and found himself face to face with the risen Lord. He had stood on the deck of a boat on the Sea of Galilee, heard a voice from the shore with questions and suggestions, and recognised it as the Lord of life. He had watched as the man with whom he had walked and talked, on whom he had leant, whom he had watched die and seen alive again, was lifted bodily from the earth and swallowed up in shining clouds as he went to his heavenly throne, there to sit in majesty until he returned again in glory to take his people to be with him.

All this John had been privileged to see and experience, and yet the fact that God has loved sinners in such a way to as to have them called his sons still makes him catch his breath, prompting an outburst of wonder in which he wants the people of Christ to share: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1Jn 3.1).