This summer I am working at Twin Lakes Christian Center in Iowa, as the worship leader for all their events. It’s sort of a long story as to how I ended up here so I’ll share that later. For now though…
We’ve been studying the book of 1st John for staff training, and also the person of John as a disciple of Christ. In diving into the gospel of John it is interesting to me how John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. He never calls himself anything else, and he always makes sure he mentions the fact that Jesus loved him, even if it means awkwardly attaching it to the end of a sentence. I assume by not mentioning himself by name, John is trying to show humility, but I have often wondered whether John was boasting a little bit in Jesus’ favor, or if he was trying to remind himself of Jesus’ affections. Today I’m realizing perhaps neither of those things are true. Maybe John simply couldn’t think of a better way to think of himself. He was merely a follower of Christ…and he was loved by the One he followed.
When I read the accounts of John from other gospels, it’s almost as if John is competing for Jesus’ favor. He wants to be the one honored by Jesus, he wants to be constantly praised by Jesus, and “in the loop” with Jesus’ plans, as if he were entitled to that sort of treatment from Jesus. But maybe by the time John writes his own gospel, he’s realized that he isn’t entitled to anything. Maybe he realizes he had the joy of being one of Jesus’ closest friends, and was witness to all these great miracles and deep moments with Christ, simply because Jesus loved him. Perhaps John came to the understanding, to which we should all arrive eventually, that we are not allowed the privilege of knowing Christ because we are worthy of it. Instead it is because Christ loves us.
So really, aren’t we all just disciples whom Jesus loves?