Is John the most arrogant of all the disciples?
Throughout the Gospel of John, essentially whenever John refers to himself, he doesn’t use his name. Instead, he says “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” At first glance, it might seem like pure arrogance, pride over the fact that John was one of the “inner three” Jesus drew particularly close to Himself.
Or it might be something else entirely.
When I discuss this title with my students, they are a bit surprised that John refers to himself as the beloved disciple. But then I try to draw their attention to the other claims John could have made.
John, the only disciple at the foot of the cross.
John, the one who leaned his head near the heart of Jesus and sat next to Him at the Last Supper.
John, the disciple who arrived first to the tomb after the Resurrection (because he ran faster than Peter).
John, the youngest of the disciples.
John, the one to whom Jesus entrusted His mother.
What do we see instead? John, the one whom Jesus loved.
There are several unique roles that John played, but when writing the account of Jesus, he chooses to simply be known by the fact that Jesus loved him. More than everything else, the love of Jesus is the most precious to John. He is the beloved disciple.
Contrary to what we might think initially, his belovedness is not in conflict with anyone else’s belovedness. It isn’t John, the one Jesus loved more than all others or to the exclusion of all others. It is simply: John, beloved by Jesus.
It is a title we could all claim.
Is that what I see first, though: my belovedness?
More than teacher, daughter, sister, friend, blogger, or any other role I may have, do I see myself as beloved?
Sometimes, I know that is my primary role, the most essential part of my being. Other times, I get confused and see the secondary roles as primary. I put too much emphasis on what type of teacher or friend I am and I forget that I am loved, just for being. Not because of anything that I do or don’t do–simply in my nature, down to my core and at my root, I am the Lord’s beloved.
It wasn’t John, who loves Jesus most. Nor could I claim that title, my love is far too weak to compete with the great loves offered by the saints. That changes things, that shifts the perspective. It isn’t a role I do but is rather a role that I receive. Despite anything that might happen, failures or successes, I am loved.
Trish, the one Jesus loves.
This speaks to the greatness of the Lord, His patient and loving faithfulness toward this fickle and flawed heart.
The tremendous joy of the Resurrection renews this truth of the Lord’s personal and intimate love for each soul. He brings life into places of death and He shows that He conquers overwhelmingly. Not just a little or just enough: overwhelmingly. Totally. Completely. Like His love for me. More than I deserve and yet exactly what I need.
May I live from the knowledge of my belovedness and encounter others in the truth of their belovedness. Let us approach the Lord with John’s beautiful confidence, knowing that we are the Lord’s beloved and that despite all we are and all we do, that this title is the most significant in our lives. It is stamped on our hearts, it is written in His palms, it is poured out mercifully from the cross, and it is conquering all sin and death.
I am the one the Lord loves. Alleluia, alleluia!