The only original disciple of Jesus spared from martyrdom was the Apostle John who experienced persecution in different ways. While exiled on the island of Patmos he was given the revelation of Jesus which he wrote down for the churches of his day—and ultimately for us too. He describes our enemy Satan and the cosmic spiritual battle he wages against us as disciples of Jesus. John also points out that Satan is especially angry as he realizes his time is short.
The letter of Revelation is written in a chiasm form (often-used structure in ancient literature) which uses the central section as the focus and climax of the writing or teaching. In Revelation, chapter twelve is the central section and verse eleven is the central and focused idea. John reveals in this climactic message that our enemy, Satan, will ultimately be overcome and defeated. We accomplish this victory as disciples of Jesus in three ways:
- by the blood of the lamb
- by the word of our testimony
- by willingness to sacrifice our own physical life
Darrell Johnson in his excellent book, Discipleship on the Edge, writes:
There is only one way to “overcome”: the way Jesus did, as a Lamb, as pictured in Revelation 5. Thus 12:11, the central verse of the whole book—“they [disciples of Jesus] overcame him [the dragon] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”
The structure itself declares the message that since Jesus overcomes evil not by being a Lion who hurts others, but by being a Lamb who absorbs hurt, so too we overcome evil in the world, not by inflicting more hurt, but by absorbing the hurt, even if it costs us our lives. The structure itself declares the mystery that in losing our lives we actually win, “overcome,” just as Jesus did.