I’m continuing to work through the instances of love in the New Testament. Currently, I’m almost through John. From what I can see, John refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loves, four times (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7)
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side…
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them…
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!
I suppose I’ve always thought of this as a boastful type thing. Like trying to compete and say, so and so is my best friend not yours… But obviously that can’t be the case here. What if John really felt that the best thing he could be called is a) a disciple, b) love by Jesus? To the point, that it was better than a name.
What does being a disciple signify? Well, you can’t be a leader and a disciple. You have to be a follower, a student, a non-know it all. You have consciously be changing who you are or your way of life and adopting a new way of living or thinking. Being a disciple means you have acknowledge that you are insufficient, and that the life you have and want is outside of your own capabilities and understanding.
Whom Jesus Loved
John says this with such certainty. We don’t always feel it. But the men who lived with Jesus were convinced of one thing. He loved them. The closest miracle, other than feeding, that we see Jesus working on behalf of a disciple is Peter’s mother-in-law. The miracles of the storm, and fish, and others convinced them of His deity. The miracles did not convince them of his love. The signs and wonders did not persuade them that He cared for them. Jesus’ daily living, walking, and talking convinced them that He loved them.
A Brief History of Time
Thinking about the scenarios in which John is stating the phrase makes you ponder the emotions and how they would have varied during the circumstances.
- The Last Supper – John is remembering the night when Jesus, who had been predicting is death, tells them of the one who would betray him. Jesus told them, that He would not be eating with them again, until the Kingdom of Heaven is real. What sorrow, and heartbreak John must have felt! The most important thing though to John in all of this, was that even when Jesus is saying good bye, and preparing to face death, Jesus love him.
- The Last Breath (or nearly so) – Jesus while having had his relationship with his heavenly Father severed, ends his relationship to his earthly mom by handing her over to a friend’s care. I can’t even imagine having my wife, or mother or child having to go through this. But again, in all this, John feels Jesus’ love for him, in entrusting Mary to his care.
- The First Ascension – Jesus rose. And in his victory over death, John knows his love.
- The First Catch – The disciples had seen Jesus. They knew He had ascended and was real. But their life with Him still felt like a brief interruption. They had gone back to their nets, and back to the daily grind. But just like Jesus had come to them to call them as disciples, He comes to them by the sea. I love how this story plays out. I think asking people if they caught anything is a pretty regular occurrence, we still do it when we’re fishing. After all we want to see if the fish are biting. But Jesus asking if they caught anything doesn’t clue them in. Even the fishing advice, of try the other side of the boat, doesn’t clue them in. After all, every fisherman is pretty open to passing along their own advice. But imagine the thrill, when John and the others put down the net on the other side, and try to lift it. One man several years before had given the same advice. One man several years before told them to put the nets down and follow him. That same man, came back after having been risen from the dead to meet them back in their daily grind. Even after having denied him and run away in his most dire hour. Even when they couldn’t even say the trite Christian words of we’ll pray for you without falling asleep when he needed their support the most. Jesus came back.
Two things, only one of which we control, our discipleship, and Jesus’ love. Is my discipleship so important to me, that I’d rather have people know it than my name? Is my name more important than Jesus’ love? Clearly the Christian answer is “NO”. But what does my life show?
Say it out loud though…and because of Jesus’ love, we can make our discipleship real. Jesus comes to our lives.