"One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him." -- John 13:23 (NIV)
I have a friend who is an incredible person. She's beautiful, wealthy, has great kids, and she volunteers countless hours to multiple non-profits. Her husband is a Christian leader, as is she, and together they are a powerful couple in a large city. They have a very large, magazine-featured home. She's smart and funny, has a heart as big as Texas, and loves to talk philosophical and theological ideas. She's incredibly spiritually deep -- even among Christian giants, she stands tall, both in her wisdom and her character. In short, she has it all. And, for some reason incomprehensible to me, she wants to be my friend. With all the movers and shakers with whom she could socialize, with the good, godly people who want to be around her, she opts to call me, to hang out with me. I'm genuinely perplexed and humbled.
I wonder if the apostle John felt this way. Throughout his gospel, he refers to himself as "the one that Jesus loved". He never mentions his own name or talks about himself in the first person, only "the one that Jesus loved". I used to think that he said that out of pride, as if he were boasting that Jesus loved him more than He loved the other disciples.
He certainly had reason to. When Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration, John was one of three that He took with Him. When He went to the Garden of Gethsemane, in His darkest hour, He welcomed John further into the experience with Him. Throughout all four gospels, John, along with Peter and James, was allowed opportunities and insights into Jesus' character and mind that even the other nine disciples were not. Jesus DID love him, and love him greatly.
However, John wasn't lording this fact over others when he called himself "the one that Jesus loved". Quite the opposite, in fact. I think he was amazed, not that Jesus loved him more than anyone else, but that Jesus loved him at all. He observed this perfect God-Man, turned his gaze inward, and wondered, "Why does He love me? Someone like that, love ME?"
Wonder of all wonders, the thought that baffles the mind and which could be the focus of thousands of hours of meditation and never cease to be amazing, the incomprehensible, yet irrefutable and undeniable stupefaction is this: He loves ME. Similar to how I feel about my friend, and like the way John felt, I wouldn't even expect to be given a second glance by a God like this. Yet not only does He look at me, but He loves me and pursues me. Vile, wretched, sinful being that I am -- and that, not a false humility, but simply one who recognizes in some measure who she is in relation to a perfect and holy God -- He loves me?? Why??
The only answer is because He Himself IS love. He is love in perfection. He can do no other or be no other or cease to pour out His endless supply of love on His creation or act in any way contrary to His loving nature. It's not about us being worthy of His love in any way. It's just about Him -- it's always all about Him.
And He's so big, His heart so full, that He loves each of you as if you were the only one in the world, too. What a wonder! What a God!
God, thank you for loving me despite me. I'm humbled that you would even glance my way. Help me this week to show Your love to those I may not immediately deem worthy.
TODAY'S TRUTH: "We love, because He first loved us." -- I John 4:19 (HCSB)