May 25, 2021
By Gina Padilla
As a child, when I heard a gospel passage that referred to the “disciple whom Jesus loved” I always thought it was strange that Jesus would have shown partiality to one of His disciples. It was only after I started studying the Bible that I understood John was the only one who referred to himself in this way in his gospel. At first, I thought it was a little presumptuous that he would claim this. But then I realized he’s absolutely right. John is the disciple that Jesus loved and he is claiming that as a truth about his identity.
Any other New Testament writer could have claimed that title, but none of them did. John claiming that Jesus loved him does not mean that Jesus loved the other disciples less. Jesus’ love is infinitely available to everyone.
I think John was on to something with how he chose to identify himself. It wasn’t arrogance or pride. It was truth. In Jesus’ day, most people identified themselves by their first name and then as a son or daughter of whomever their father was. John was known as John, son of Zebedee (his father). But now his experiences with Jesus forever changed him and he only wanted to be known through his rebirth in Christ. John shows deep respect and humility by taking his name and his family’s name out of his identity and identifying himself only through Jesus.
What about us? When we think about who we are, what first comes to mind? A wife? A mother? A father? A husband? A student? A teacher? An engineer? A doctor? In our description of ourselves do we ever consider ourselves as “the disciple Jesus loves?” Do we consider ourselves children of God fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) as our first and foremost identity?
Whatever our status in this world, we are firstly God’s children created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and dearly loved. Referring to ourselves as disciples that Jesus loves is not arrogant or prideful — it’s simply truth.
State these next sentences out loud by putting your name in the blank:
I, _______________ am a child of God.
I, _______________ am a disciple Jesus loves.
The next time you are tempted to call yourself an idiot or get caught up in your mistakes, guilt and shame, remind yourself who loves you, whose you are, and who you are.
“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.”John 15:9 CSB
Photo Credit: Jacob Bentzinger