Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Did it ever cross your mind that John the disciple was being prideful when he called himself “the one whom Jesus loved”? I used to think so.
Of course, it sounds beautiful...“The one whom Jesus loved...” But I thought I could never actually say it out loud about myself like John did. That would be, well, you know, too priggish. I was expressing these sentiments to Jesus in my journal one morning, telling Him that although I wasn’t sure where the humility was, it was wonderful that John was so sure of his relationship with Him. And I sensed Jesus asking me, “Rhonda, was John really certain of his relationship with Me, or was he really certain of MY relationship with him?”
I had to pause for a moment. That was a really deep question.
In his heart of hearts, John KNEW that Jesus really loved him. (And that’s different from his being sure that he really loved Jesus). But Peter was the exact opposite. In the same chapter, John 13, Peter asserts that his love for Jesus is so strong that he would lay down his life in Jesus’ place. He was wrong, oh, so wrong.
John didn’t go about trying to convince Jesus how much he loved Him. Instead he allowed himself to be so totally overwhelmed by Jesus’ love for him that that’s where he found his identity.
Not that Jesus didn’t love Peter, or James, or Matthew, or the rest. His love for them was the same. But John seems to have been the only one who was willing to be so utterly charmed by Jesus’ love that he forgot about himself. So while Peter was chafing to get out there and prove his love for His Master, John was content simply to be “the one whom Jesus loved.”
I have the feeling that if we, too, found our identity more in Jesus’ love for us than in our love for Him, we too would be more effective disciples of His.
So smile wide. Embrace the truth. You are the one whom Jesus loves.
Rhonda Grakov is a sophomore biology major at Southern Adventist University. She enjoys bird watching, making music with her siblings, and baking delicious Bulgarian bread.