Throughout the Gospel of John, the apostle John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” or the “Beloved Disciple.” Consider this passage:
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.John 19:26-27, NIV, emphasis added
Take a moment to think about John writing his Gospel. He’s exiled to an island on the Aegean Sea. Decades have passed since Jesus died, and except for John, all of the disciples who walked with Jesus have died as well. John is thinking through his time with Jesus, trying to pull out the most important things to say to the church of this time, and emphasizes repeatedly that he was Jesus’ beloved disciple.
I hesitate to speculate, and I’m sure volumes of theology have been written about what it means that John was the “Beloved Disciple.” At least to John’s understanding, he had an intimate friendship with Jesus, perhaps above and beyond the relationship Jesus had with the other disciples.
A few years ago, Jurie preached a sermon about the favor of God. Here’s an excerpt quoted from that sermon:
The second thing we confuse with favor is favorites. I married up, y’all. Sometimes I look at Karin and her life and faith and think, “She’s obviously God’s favorite.” I know if I mess up, I’ll be in big trouble; I can’t mess with God’s favorite. But the more I get to know God, the more I realize that God does show great favoritism. God has favorites. But… because God is love, and God is infinite, God is infinite in love. What does that mean? It means if one person is God’s favorite, it doesn’t mean another person can’t be His favorite too. Is Karin God’s favorite? Absolutely she is. Am I God’s favorite? Absolutely I am. And So Are You.Jurie Kriel, Faith and Favor, August 5, 2018
Sometimes I wonder whether John called himself the “Beloved Disciple,” not because his relationship with Jesus was uniquely intimate versus what the other disciples had, but because when you’re with Jesus, you feel like the most valued person in the world.
One of the things I’ve grown to understand more and more as I get older is that there is no “love pie.” That is, love isn’t some finite “stuff” that gets served out to each individual on a plate. If love were a pie, then the amount you get is an amount that somebody else doesn’t have access to. But love isn’t a pie. As Jurie pointed out, God’s favor is so infinite that if you’re Jesus’ beloved, that doesn’t mean I can’t be too. And the more love given, the more love there is to give.
John was fascinated by love. He talked about it again and again. Consider this passage:
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:7-8, NIV
When you think of the first songs we teach our children in kids’ ministry, or the first songs you learned as a child, what comes to mind? For me, it’s always “Jesus Loves Me.”
Jesus loves me, this I know“Jesus Loves Me,” by Anna Bartlett Warner
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me (repeat twice more)
The Bible tells me so
“Kid stuff,” you might say, “everyone knows that.” But do you really? Have you actually grasped, to the depth of your soul, that Jesus loves you? Take a moment to consider this passage:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.John 15:13-15, NIV
Jesus calls you friend; He laid down His life for his friends; laying down your life for your friends is the ultimate demonstration of love; therefore Jesus loves YOU.
What does it do for you when a person loves you? It changes your name, and it changes your identity. It changes your name from “friend” to “spouse,” or from “stranger” to “friend.” Peter tells us, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8, NIV). I’m more likely to forgive my beloved. I’m more likely to serve my beloved. I’m more likely to cry with – and laugh with – my beloved. I can sit in silence with my beloved and not feel uncomfortable, and I can bear my soul to my beloved without fear of his judgement.
One thing I’ve heard from time to time is, “You don’t have to be good for Jesus to love you, but you can expect Jesus’ love to make you good.”
Take a page from the Gospel of John. Remember that you are “the disciple whom Jesus love[s].” Every time you’re stuck, every time you feel lost, every time you feel broken, every time you mess up, you are still called “Beloved.” Rest in it, revel in it, and allow it to transform you.
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