The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
It seems to me to be somewhat ironic that the fourth gospel is entitled JOHN in our New Testaments. I am convinced that John truly was the Spirit-inspired author of this amazing book. And yet, he took pains to keep his name off the pages he wrote. But in spite of his carefulness to avoid calling his own name, there it is, as the title of the fourth gospel in every New Testament everywhere.
But John had referred to himself simply as the disciple whom Jesus loved. What are we to make of this? I confess that I puzzled over that self-designation of John. First, I noted and appreciated his humility. He is so taken with his Lord that he refuses to insert his own name in his account of Jesus Christ as though he felt unworthy to have anyone repeat his name in the same breath as the Lord’s. But then my thoughts ran in the other direction as I realized the author seemed to single himself out for the honor of this description, as if he were saying, “Of all the twelve disciples, I alone was the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Most seem to accept the date of the book as in the 90’s AD. This would mean that John was in his eighties or nineties when he wrote this book. As the old man looked back through all the years of his long life of service to his Lord what blessed truth shines for him most brightly, keeping alive all his hopes and helping him through all the troubles of older age and all the sacrifices he made for the Kingdom? When he looks back and sees himself through his Savior’s eyes, what does he see? He cares not for his former status with the religious elite. Neither an address nor a portfolio come to his mind…not even his name. This was all he needed to know…all that needed to be said…he was, and bless God, is, the disciple whom Jesus loved and loves. This supreme truth kept him warm at heart even when he couldn’t warm himself physically. His blessed relationship with Jesus Christ kept him company when all others refused or couldn’t.
And when John referred to himself as the disciple beloved of Christ, he wasn’t being exclusive. His other writings reverberate with the theme of Jesus’ precious, divine love for all humans. No…John wasn’t being at all exclusive. He was committed to sharing this love with all. However…and this is to my heart one sweet, sweet truth…one of the most important things we need to see in this is that John’s self-description…all those decades later, after Christ had left him here to serve while He went back to the Father…proves that John got it! John had opened himself up fully to the forgiving, freeing, empowering, securing, undying, transforming, exciting, hopeful, joyful, and absolutely awesome LOVE of Jesus Christ. This love, welcomed as it was by the apostle, had changed everything. It had taken him from being a “son of thunder” to being a “child of love.”
Dare we believe it is for us too? Can you be a disciple whom Jesus loves? Can I? Can this be the story of our lives as well? Can this become our mainstay…our vision of ourselves as we see through His eyes? Listen, He loved us even when we didn’t care…when we were enemy sinners. He lived, served, died and arose for love of us…and this was already true in the lean years of our lives when our souls starved for the spirituality we withheld from them. He called us long, long before we heard. He welcomed us home though we didn’t and couldn’t deserve to be there. And His love will not let us go even now, even when we struggle in our temporary fits of sin-induced insanity to get loose from it. It is His wonderful, amazing, love that gives us eyes to truly behold His glory. And having caught even a glimpse of it, we can’t go back and pretend we didn’t see.
Believe it! You are a disciple whom Jesus loves! It matters not how long or short be your time on this earth, as long as this wonderful truth is yours. You are the beloved!