The little church is dim and filled wall-to-wall with disciples. At the front of the room is a small clearing, empty for now. Expectation hangs thick in the air.
Suddenly, outside, a murmur starts to rise, and the those waiting inside know he is coming. It’s always the same: He is carried in on a palette and set down in the small clearing at the front of the church where he delivers his message.
What will he say today? This is the question on the minds of everyone in the room. Some have made pilgrimage from hundreds of miles away to hear him, the last surviving Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One particular young man waiting near the back of the church has been here for weeks, fasting with the other brothers and sisters, and singing hymns with them. It has been a wonderfully joyous time, but he’s noticed the Apostle’s been repeating himself. Every message has been the same short statement repeated daily. The first few days he was here the young man tried to be patient, waiting for the man to preach something more profound than his simple message. But he hasn’t, and it’s been weeks. The young man is starting to wonder if the Apostle is perhaps succumbing to old age. The Apostle is, in fact, the oldest man he has ever met.
Now people near the entrance to the dim interior are shuffling and the disciples inside know the Apostle is almost here. Heads turn and eyes lift from prayer toward the door, waiting, waiting.
And then he is there, at the door, being carried in on his palette. The last living person to have seen the Lord Jesus in the flesh.
His palette is laid gently in the clearing at the front of the church, and it seems all breath has paused. Every eye is on him, all attention fixed upon him, but he shows no sign of knowing it. His head is bowed in prayer, and to the disciples in the room it seems as if time itself is standing still, with all of creation waiting for this man to speak.
The Apostle John lifts his head, gazes across the room with eyes dulled from age, and says so quietly that any noise would’ve drowned him out: “Little children, love one another.”
His head drops again in prayer, and this is the cue to his palette bearers to lift him gently again and move slowly back toward the door. All eyes are fixed with awe on John, all but the eyes of the young man. Sure enough, this is the same message he’s heard for the last few weeks. His disappointment boils over; has he traveled all the way from Spain to hear the same five words repeated daily? No, he’s had enough. As John’s palette nears the door the young man stands boldly and demands to know: “Father, why do you repeat the same thing every day? Isn’t there more you can teach us? You are the last man alive who met the Lord; isn’t there more you will say?”
Now the eyes of the room are fixed on the young man; some in anger, some in shock, but some sympathetic. Many people have traveled far to hear John speak, and their hearts have become restless as well.
John, for his part, is not surprised or taken aback. He motions for the palette bearers to stop, and the room is whisper-quiet again. He gazes in the direction of the young man, whom John cannot see with his aged eyes, and answers the demand: “By loving one another we please the Master and complete all the commands the Lord Jesus gave to us. There is nothing else to say.”
With that the palette bearers resume their slow march to the door, and he’s gone.