Posted by: mikenicholsblog | August 16, 2017

loved with a perfect love

Have you ever experienced personally, or viewed from a distance, parents who played favorites? I don’t think my parents ever outwardly had a favorite….either my brother or myself, but it would not have been surprising. My brother was quiet, obedient and just a nice kid. I, on the other hand, was a terror. By first grade, I had burned a field down by playing with matches. In the first grade, I wasn’t the easiest child to deal with because of my talkative, aggressive nature. I’ll stop at that point, but you could certainly see why my parents would have breathed the faithful words, “Whose child is this?” Life is filled with relationships that tend to show favoritism, and whether it is in the home, in our children’s activities (sports, music etc…) or at work, we don’t like it.

We all want fairness, equality and a level playing field. So our antennas are always up to detect when the slightest bit of bias is shown … especially if it is not in our favor!  With that in mind, have you ever considered the words found in Scripture, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to be a bit unusual? After all, He loved all His disciples. John 13:23 says, One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. I find the same love language conveyed in John 19 and 21. Our first logical question of this kind of attention is, “Who is this person?” For most reading this article, you know that the wording refers to the Apostle John. The second question would be, “Why use this kind of language when John certainly wasn’t the only disciple loved by Jesus?”

One of our weaknesses with Scripture is reading without considering the full context or timing of the events. We see the book of John as giving us a window into the life of Jesus and His disciples while not thinking much about the actual time frame when it was written, or the age of its author. I am convinced the Apostle John wrote Gospel of John, although he never mentions himself by name. There is much conservative scholarship that would date John’s gospel as being written between 85A.D. and 95 A.D. By this time, John is later in his life, and decades removed from walking with Jesus. As I think of this older man writing about events that happened decades earlier (under the inspiration of God), I am intrigued.

By the time of its writing, John had lived long and grown from a brash, impetuous young follower to a mature, humble man of deep love. Can you imagine what it was like for him to look back and think of his time spent with Jesus? Were there questions he wished he would have asked, or statements and actions he would like to be able to do over? I am sure there were. But in this masterpiece of Scripture, John referred to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Was he writing about being a favorite, or being special or more spiritual than the other disciples? Of course not! His words don’t relate to how we view favoritism of special treatment.

Picture an older, wise man writing God-breathed words of awe at the marvel of how Jesus loved him. Dr. Constable’s Notes of John say it this way. “John was not claiming that Jesus loved him more than the other disciples by describing himself this way. Rather, the description reveals his appreciation for God’s grace in loving him as He did. He focused the reader’s attention on Jesus more forcefully by omitting his own name.” In my mind’s eye, I can picture his awe in being loved by Jesus.

My brother may have been the favorite at home … rightfully so. But in respect to our Savior’s opinion on each of us, He loves us all deeply, uniquely and fully!  We should all reflect with awe at being loved with a perfect love. From the words (noted in Scripture) of an older man who I believe was in awe of God’s love for him, I am personally challenged to say thanks. I’m sure you are too!

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