The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
On four occasions in his Gospel, the Apostle John referred to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23; 20:2; 7; 20).
At first glance, a novice reader might deduce two possibilities. First, one might think the Lord Jesus loved only one of the men He had chosen to follow Him as those who would most witness - and bear witness - to the truths He taught and wonders He performed during His time of ministry. John himself counters this notion: "Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1; emphasis added).
The other possibility suggests that John viewed himself as more beloved than the other disciples. Again, John's affirmation of the Lord's love for all His disciples argues against His singling out John for special belovedness. "This is My commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John 15:12). Certainly, the Savior did not intend for the disciples to love one more than others. Thus, we cannot interpret John's description of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" in terms of special favor. What then did our brother of old mean by the title?
Perhaps the best answer simply reveals that John was so enthralled by the Lord's personal love for him that it became the hallmark of who he perceived himself to be. The other disciples were subject to the same devotion of the Savior, and may have even viewed themselves similarly. The Holy Spirit led John to bear witness to the blessedness, and in the description of himself revealed how we should all view ourselves. Indeed, no matter what happens in our lives, the believer can so know the love of God that His devotion to us becomes the hallmark of our own existence. In our own hearts and minds, we can become the son or daughter of God in Christ who He loves as we walk with Him in love and faith, experiencing the grace and wonder of His loving devotion to ourselves in personal terms. We should all be John in this sense, expecting that his hallmark will become our own.
Interestingly, such reception and experience of love will lead us to view our brothers and sisters in the same terms. Again, John referred to the other disciples as beloved by the Savior. We do well to think of each other in these terms, remembering that regardless of how we may feel about a fellow Christian in human terms, that brother or sister is loved by God as His child. Such a view of each other's hallmark of belovedness will go far in strengthening our devotion to one another in the love of Christ. "Love one another, as I have loved you…"
"The disciple whom Jesus loved." John could not get over the fact of how much the Lord Jesus loved him. He had drawn close enough to see into the Savior's heart, and experience the faithful working the Savior's hand. May we all join John. May his hallmark become our own. And may we rejoice in such devotion to ourselves, and remember that each of our brothers and sisters can affirm the same wonder of being "the disciple who Jesus loves."
"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor."
Weekly Memory Verse
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(I Corinthians 3:16)