I wholeheartedly believe that every word in the Bible is the true, inspired word of God and that each verse holds importance in the life of the believer, yet I can’t help but feel a particular pull time and again to the Gospel of John. I make a point to read through the book at least once in the month or so leading up to Easter. It’s a habit formed a few years back that has really helped focus my mind and my thoughts during this holy season.
This year, I hope to read through it three times with a different intent with each reading. I just finished the first last night. I read about a chapter a day over the last few weeks. Next, I plan to read it straight through in a day or two, the way I might read a good novel. I’d like to think through some of the themes that make this gospel unique and pay particular attention to the author’s voice and perspective in a quicker read. Lastly, I plan to take it verse by verse or passage by passage, spending time in mindful, Biblical meditation, pondering the words of Christ.
As I wrapped up the first reading yesterday, something hit me. I have always found it unexpected that the author refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I guess it struck me as a little boastful in a way, though I never thought that about the apostle himself, only this peculiar moniker. In thinking of the close-knit group of disciples, who must have had a strong brotherly bond, it seemed strange that John would repeatedly refer to the Teacher’s special love for him and not the others. It would be like me referring to myself as “the child my father loves” in the same sentence in which I simply mention my other siblings by name – strange to say the least!
All of a sudden last night, however, I saw this description in a whole new light. Christ’s love for us is so unexpected, unwarranted, and undeserved – it makes sense that John, who no doubt had an even more profound understanding of this after seeing Jesus’ perfect life and gruesome death, would be in a state of perpetual wonder that the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator would love him enough to die for him. Perhaps he simply couldn’t mention himself without talking about the love of Christ.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.John 15:9 (NIV)
John started both his gospel account and his first epistle focusing on the eternality of Jesus, quite definitively putting to rest any question about Christ’s deity. He also focused a great deal on the fellowship of the trinity, of Christ with His believers, and of the believers with each other. John knew without any doubt whatsoever that he had witnessed the perfect life, the atoning death, and the authenticating resurrection of the One and Only Son of God. He also knew that true life was only gained through relationship with Christ, which flows entirely from His love for us.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 (NIV)
The realization that the God of all creation, the One who was and is and is to come, loved this disciple enough to die a horrific death on the cross, must have been overwhelming. No wonder he saw himself not as John, but as someone dearly loved by Christ!
Just as soon as I grabbed hold of this thought last night, I realized the implication of this to me personally. We talk a lot about our identity in Christ in today’s church. I’ve never thought about that applying to my name. I am not just Kim. I am not just a generic “me.” I am the daughter whom Jesus loves.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!I John 3:1a (NIV)
How would it change my perspective on things if I thought of myself in such terms? What happens if I apply that when I journal or pray? How would my faith change? How would my thoughts and actions change? Instead of being mired in worry and self-doubt, in guilt and regret, maybe I would move forward with confidence not just as a woman named Kim, but as the daughter whom Jesus loves.
As I continue to read and meditate on Christ’s words in the coming weeks, I want to remember this identity. I am a child loved by Jesus – the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Creator, Redeemer, and Death Defeater. So are you, my friend! The Bible says that God IS love. What better way to see ourselves than as the object of His great love!
John went to great lengths in his writing to prove Christ’s authority, power, and love for us. In the first few verses of his first epistle, we see why: “And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (I John 1:4 NIV). This is a close echo to the words of Christ found in John 15:11: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (NIV). We must understand and accept Jesus’ deity, His redemption, and His love for us if we ever want to experience true joy. If you’re wondering about any of these things, a great place to start discovering Christ is the gospel of John and the book of I John. There’s no better time than right now to discover the truth of who Christ is and the depth of His love for you.
Thank you for reading. Please leave comments comments below or email me through the blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.I John 4:7-11 (NIV)