Out of humility, John never mentions himself by name in his gospel account. He only refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7; 21:20). In the final chapter, John speaks of a saying of the Lord that circulated among believers of the early church. “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” Based on this curious saying, many thought Jesus had implied to Peter that his beloved disciple would not die but would remain alive until his return. Of course, we know from historical records that this “disciple whom Jesus loved”, would go on to be the oldest living apostle of Christ. He would also be the only apostle not to suffer martyrdom, and he would write the Book of Revelation. However, he did, eventually, die of natural causes. Contrary to rumors circulated among early believers, the Lord did not return during John’s lifetime.
I would love to be physically alive at the time of the Lord’s coming. I would rather forgo death and resurrection, instead, simply being transformed and snatched up to meet Jesus in the air. Paul assures, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51, 52). I know that both living and dead saints will be given an immortal body, but to be on the earth as the Lord raptures his church would certainly be a magnificent experience! To be caught up in a heartbeat, leaving this wicked world behind, would be my glory and great joy. That being said, the Lord’s will be done in life or death! “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).
We learn from John’s record of Peter’s conversation with Jesus that it is no concern of ours who will be alive when he comes. Jesus himself said, “What is that to you?” He concludes their dialogue by telling Peter to follow him (John 21:22). That must be our primary concern, rather than guesswork about who will be alive at the rapture. Our passion for the Lord’s coming is good. Taking heed of the “labor pains” and every sign made apparent to us in this age is good (cf. Matt. 24:8; Mk. 13:8; Rom. 8:22). Daniel showed us the importance of studying unfulfilled prophecy (Dan. 9:1, 2). Jesus told us to notice, “the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). This assures our faith, but it must not detract from our primary focus of putting faith into action, following Jesus every single day of our lives. – MAH