Posted by: pmarkrobb | August 13, 2015

the ones whom Jesus loves

The book and character of John have been so instrumental in my return to the faith I experienced as a child.  In coming of age, I encountered the battles which are so common to young men and women.  I found my faith battered, bruised and dulled after repeatedly choosing to fight in the perilous provinces of silence and isolation.  I never doubted the love of my parents, but my mind’s eye too often saw a look of disgust and disappointment on God’s face in response to my sins.

More than a few years ago (against my “better” judgement), I joined a small group of more-like-brothers-than-friends who met at a local breakfast place each Wednesday morning.  I remember the book they were in the midst of studying (Wild at Heart, by John Eldridge) and the excitement and engagement I felt from the very first morning when one of the men walked in, threw their book down on the table and said, “I don’t like this book, and I don’t have a wound!”  It was just the dose of “righteous” indignation I needed to be jolted out of my safe zone of faith and into the mess of returning to something which was real.

I remember the first book of the Bible we chose to study together.  It was the book of John, and I have distinct and vivid recollections of feeling as though I had met Jesus for the first time in a long time as we poured over its pages.  John was passionate and assertive, and his storytelling was equally so.  He loved Jesus deeply, and the words the Holy Spirit spoke through him had me full-out, falling in love with Jesus all over again (just as I had as a child).

At the very same time, the men in our small band of brothers and the character of John spoke the critical truth of our fallen and broken selves.  All were imperfect.  All would be quick to confess it.  The spit and shine which seems so prevalent in our churches and relationships of faith was absolutely absent on those Wednesday mornings over eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast.  And I found “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to be just as much of a train wreck as I was sure I was.

I found a kindred spirit in the person of John.  He loved and failed with equal ferocity.  He was a genuine friend of Jesus.  He was a leader in the small group of twelve. Jesus asked John to care for his mother after He was crucified.  Yet, John was also rebuked by Jesus for forbidding someone to cast out demons in Jesus’ name because he wasn’t part of the twelve (Mark 9:38-41). He was caught arguing on multiple occasions as to who was the greatest among the disciples.  And in reading his account of the story of he and Peter running to the tomb on the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, it’s clear he wanted the world to know he got to the tomb first (he mentions it three times! – John 20:1-10).  In these stark contrasts I see myself.  I see the kind of disciple I might have been had God chosen that path and purpose for me.

I find it fascinating that John repeatedly referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  I wonder if you believe the critique I’ve heard many times in conversation or from the pulpit.  I wonder if you believe those words were evidence of pride or John seeking to place himself positionally above the other disciples.  There is a part of me which could easily believe that, but the whole of me does not.  The part of me which wants to believe that is the same part which “saw” the disgust and disappointment on God’s face as He looked back at me.  It is the part of the more “mature” me who still battles with strong feelings of being less than or who doesn’t really believe that God loves unconditionally.

The whole of me chooses, instead, to hear John’s true self speaking the truth of what he believes about Jesus – and himself.  I hear John’s genuine belief, above all other things, that Jesus loves him.  John’s life appears defined by Jesus’ love.  He accepts it and receives it fully.  His name is irrelevant.  He is the one whom Jesus loves.

I want to live my life this way.  I want to humbly describe myself in those same words.  I want to believe that about Jesus – and myself.  Lord, help me in my unbelief.

I, and you, are the ones whom Jesus loves – loves without further clarification, definition or condition.  Will you choose to believe that about Jesus?  Will you choose to believe that about yourself?



  1. The reality of His love seems to remain fresh and exciting to John. 🙂 Perhaps even with an ongoing presence of “can you believe this!?!”

    As Chris Tomlin writes…..

    Jesus, He loves me, He loves me
    Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me


  2. I need to hear this every day 😟

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