Acorns From Oakes

Seeing With Our Father's Eyes

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!

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10 thoughts on “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

  1. I want to be one of the ones that Jesus Loves. I do think I am, but with what you wrote I wonder if God does Love some people Greater than others. That doesn’t mean we are not Loved very much and will be with Him some day after this journey. But John was 80 or 90 yrs old and his whole life was So Devoted to Jesus, His Lord. John is the one that wrote “For God so Loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whosoever Believeth in Him will not perish but have Everlasting Life”. So it sounds to me like God can and does measure His Love for different ones. I know some people do “GET IT” all their life long thru – what Jesus meant to them and did for them and all mankind. I have heard there are going to be different degrees of Reward in Heaven because of the manner of devotion to God a person has. Wouldn’t there be special Honor for those who have Loved Jesus and God so devotedly and have done what he has asked of them in their life, all their lives…very Obedient Servants to God like John was. We have heard Jesus talk about the many mansions in His Father’s house…I wonder if some of the places are held for those who Jesus especially Loved – Like John, for example. Doug, you just made me think about this more with your excellent article about those Loved by Jesus.

    • oakesclan on said:

      Hey sis, thanks for responding to this one. Here’s my response to your thoughts…you don’t have to want to be one of the ones that Jesus loves. You already are and have been for all your life. Whatever I wrote in this blog that caused you to wonder if Jesus loved certain people more than others, well, if I wrote anything that caused you to feel that way, I was off base. When we consider ourselves in the light of what others have done for Jesus, we are going to get depressed and even begin to wonder if there is any place at all for us. Paul suggested (2 Cor.10:12) that it was unwise to fall to such comparisons. John 3:16 is not telling us that God loves some more than others. Rather it is telling us that God loves us all so much that He offers us all the most valuable gift ever…the gift of His sacrificed Son. And think of this, too, Gail…we gain the future eternal reward because of what Jesus did and not because of any of our efforts. This is not true of eternal punishment. If we aren’t Christ’s then punishment is ahead for us and it will be based on our deeds in this life…some who have done worse, even in light of the fact that they knew better will be beaten with more stripes than those who did evil, but did so in ignorance (Luke 12:47f).
      Now in Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were those who definitely developed a closer friendship with Jesus than others. But, and this is my opinion, I don’t think this was because Jesus held anyone at arm’s length. It depended on how others responded to Jesus. The reason the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, became a “home away from home” for Jesus, is because they opened their home and their hearts to Him. The reason Peter, James and John went further with Jesus on several occasions was because (again…in my opinion)they had the heart to do so and not because Jesus just arbitrarily excluded others. So…I encourage you, sis, and all who read this to understand that, as His child of faith, you ARE the disciple whom Jesus loves fully, freely, forgivingly, forever. Relax in this glorious truth. Let yourself fully embrace it. When you think of yourself…or when things are going rough for you…reflect again on this blessed truth and say to yourself, “Whatever else is or isn’t true, I am loved by Jesus…and that makes all the difference in and out of this world.” I love you, too. Brotherly, D

  2. Anytime I start looking at the words used to describe us by Them … I get an amazing sense of peace. Some of my favorites are precious, knit, fearfully and wonderfully made, adopted, heir, daughter, beloved, and forgiven. To be one loved by Jesus … when I really swallow all that encompasses … leaves me speechless.

    • oakesclan on said:

      I agree, Paige. Those wonderful words that express all God is and chooses to be toward us are awe-inspiring. It is one of the real joys of this life to find along our way, like a precious, sparking jewel, some new insight that gives us brand new appreciation for how we are cherished by our Father God. This helps to keep our lives from becoming a drudgery…makes it feel so much more like an adventure or a treasure hunt. And it is so important that we talk about these things that do often leave us “speechless,” because in the very act of fumbling for words big and beautiful enough to describe His love for us, we grow and we may even prove helpful to others traveling our way. I’m glad to be a fellow-traveler with you. Your insights to the grace and knowledge of Jesus continue to bless us all.

  3. Yes! One of the most profound and important lessons I am learning. I think John comes across a little bit egomaniacal at first glance b/c this is title that can only be declared by the one who has come within the grips of this revelation. He is certainly not claiming it exclusively, but we are certainly to see revealed in His unique understanding of his relationship with the Savior…the AWESOME potential for EVERY disciple of Christ.

    The first time I really understood this truth…really understood it deep from within…was when I allowed the voice of Jesus to speak it to me. It is not something that can be simply uttered about oneself…coming from some new theological understanding. No, it must be heard and felt through the Spirit of Christ that we are His and as such, we are His Beloved…Loved thoroughly and completely with a love that transcends our imaginations.

    Thanks for renewing my meditations on this wonderful Truth, Pops.

    • oakesclan on said:

      It was on the day that God gifted your mother and me with you that He led me to new perspective on this truth. There’s something unique and so powerful about the love of a parent for their newborn child…a child which has done nothing of good or ill and yet who immediately calls forth our whole hearts…our whole beings…so that without hesitation we would do anything, go anywhere, pay any price, suffer any inconvenience, sacrifice anything needed (including our very lives)on behalf of him or her. When I felt this compelling, undeniable, unbounded love flowing through me, I knew instinctively that it had to be representative of the love of Father God for His children…only…His love was so much greater…so much purer…so much stronger than mine. It was then, through His gracious Spirit (as you said) that I really began to hear and make answer to His message to me… “You are mine. I love you. I am pleased in you.” May all His beloved receive the Message…loud, clear, and soon. Bless His Name.

  4. That is a concept that is hard for me to grasp. Too many years of being beat down in an abusive marriage left me feeling that I was un-lovable. Certainly not by the Lord of lords and King of kings. I had disappointed Him so! But I am coming to know that He loved me even through all of those years. He was beside me that whole time, working to keep me alive and as undamaged as possible so that He could work to bring me back Home. It doesn’t make sense that He would want me…I’m sinful, broken, damaged and just bad…but He does want me. The only way to explain that is an amazing amount of love on His part for me. It’s the ony thing that makes sense. Jesus loves me. ME! I don’t know why, but He does. Little by little that is soaking in…Thank you Father!

    • oakesclan on said:

      Yes, Sherry, from one common perspective it makes no sense at all for God to want us…but, thankfully, there is another perspective…the perspective of a parent’s heart…even, particularly, a mother’s heart. From that perspective, it makes perfect sense. The vilest criminal having been convicted of terrible crimes and in the process of being executed for those crimes, will still be regarded by his mother as “a good boy, who loved his mother.” When she thinks upon him, she can’t help but see him as he once was…and to see him as he could have been. And she would try with her last ounce of strength to do him good…cry out her last tear in compassion upon him…breath out her final breath in unrequited love’s prayer for the soul of the one she loves more than her life. And the text tells us that though that nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15) forget her child, God will not! Yes, we are His beloved. Lewis Smedes writes to remind us of “your mother’s hand patting you on the head, just heavily enough to tell you that your most important person thinks you are a good child, good enough for her to love…then there is the soft stroke, the intimate brush…a wish for you to know that you are able to fill another’s life with joy.” How long has it been for us…or for some of us…to have felt that we are able to fill another’s life with joy?! But, wonder of wonders, we actually do this for our Father God. That prospect alone…the idea that we might cause our Father to feel delight becomes for us the quest of our lives…for He deserves such from us…from this day on. Thanks for sharing, Sherry.

  5. Email Girl on said:

    The other day I was talking to a friend trying to explain how I felt about this other friend of mine. The other friend is one whom I have great admiration and appreciation for…one I trust completely with my heart. Trust like that doesn’t come easy for me…this friend is very important to me. I was describing why he was important to me to my other friend and these words came out of my mouth:
    “I want to sing his name”
    It kind of surprised me at first that I said that, but then when I thought about it it made sense. It comes from a place of tremendous admiration and describes exactly how I feel about him. When the conversation was over and I reflected on what I had said again, something hit me and became very clear for me. In Zephaniah 3:17 it says that He (God) will rejoice over me with singing. With singing…in song…hmmm. I love this friend of mine whose name I could sing…it’s one of the only certain things in my heart. God’s love for me is just like my love for my friend only magnified a million times more. That amazes me…it induces awe in me. I think I’m finally starting to understand….at least as much as my mind will let me today. Someday I hope He will show me how He loves so fully.

  6. oakesclan on said:

    Dear Email Girl,
    It is good to have a trusted friend like you describe…one with whom you may trust your whole heart, knowing that they will keep it safe…that they will never abuse your trust.
    I also love your perspective that God’s love for you, is like your love for your friend. That certainly helps you put a great frame of reference on the Father’s love for you.
    But, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to add one more thought. I have such dear people in my life…I can’t really think of life apart from them. I have even, at times, wondered if my love for them actually eclipses my love for God. I’ve puzzled over the question…”Which one do I love more? My God or my wife? My God or my child? etc.” It helps me gain perspective whenever I need it, to remind myself again that all of the great loves of my life, all the precious friends who mean so much to me and with whom I have journeyed for so long…all of these dear and life-enriching loves, have come to me from the great Heart above. And I know I must love and praise Him first. I wouldn’t have the good and strong, noble and trusting relationships of my life if it weren’t for Him. And I also understand that I could not love my beloved like I should…I could not begin to be to them what I need to be…I couldn’t be there for them or encourage them as I should…if I didn’t love first and foremost the One Who has placed them near and dear to me.
    I’m saying the above because of your last sentence…that someday you hope He will show you how He loves you so fully. I think I understand what you are hoping…but I was hoping to help you consider that He is showing you that right now…in the friend whose name is music to your soul…the friend who is there for you because of your loving Father God. And what is true of this good friend is true of all other good friends and good gifts in your life, including the dying and ever-living love of the Savior…all the good comes from God and is wonderful and convincing evidence of how very much He has loved you all along. Please come home…all the way.
    Prayers continue. God bless you and yours.

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