John, the disciple Jesus LOVED (see John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20, 24)
John proclaims the love of God like no other Apostle. He identifies himself in the light of the love of God. It seemed that when Apostles proclaimed who Jesus was, they would say the same things, but tended in Bible writings to emphasize Jesus as The Messiah (King), the Righteous One, a teacher, and a Great Prophet. They also emphasized Him as the Son of God (brought forth of God Himself).
Now John would say such things too, yet he emphasized Jesus’ love for him foremost in his recognition of Jesus. He saw the Son of God as a person that loved him above seeing all His titles and status. I am not suggesting the other Apostles didn’t, only that, John seems to shine a light on Jesus’ love with unique inflections that draw us into the core of Jesus’ heart in a personal way.
No one else called John, “the disciple Jesus loved.” John spoke that way of himself because that is how Jesus revealed himself to John. John tells us he believed, above all else, that this is the gospel message. John understood the Gospel well!
Think about it… John 3:16… “for God so LOVED the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Who wrote that? John did!
We may know that verse well but, let us thank God for revealing it to John. It is John who tells us. When I think about how much John tells us to love one another and how much Jesus loves us, it helps to understand why John would call himself “the disciple Jesus loved.” You see, John recognized and shared the message of the love of God. John heard and witnessed it from the source.
Perhaps the most beautiful example is when Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved (John) standing before Him at His execution. He said to His mother, “here (referring to John) this is your son” (see John 19:26) because He loved His mother and now called John to loved her as He loved her. To His mother, was a call to love John just as she loved her Son. Right there it is! The call for those that love Lord Jesus to be family and love as He loves.
John clearly understood the very purpose of the Son of God’s mission. He was in touch with what God was about: a fellowship of love. John zeros in on God’s love expressing his understanding in such a rich relationally theological voice. For example, “our fellowship is with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” is so much more relatable and down to earth to read than long explanations about the nature of the Triune God.
As theological profound as John explains the nature of God, the love of God is what always stands out when I read John’s words. I believe John’s voice (witness) may have been heard on earth longer than all of Christ’s Apostles because he so passionately proclaimed the LORD’s LOVE. That is the message of the Cross (see John 3:16) and the mission of those that follow Him (see Matthew 28:16-20). That mission is to teach of Jesus ways and lay down one’s life in Love. John, after the Resurrection of Christ, clearly leads that charge the longest and, in my opinion, the best.
If you call Jesus Lord?
Understand Jesus words, “I give you a new commandment to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34 NET).