I was reading the gospel of John several years ago. Somewhere along the way I realized that John – the author - had a unique way of referencing himself. Three times he wrote about himself in the third person, as the “one Jesus loved.” “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.” (John 13:23)
“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved…” (John 20:2)
“…And saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.” (John 21:20)
Now I grew up hearing preachers refer to John as Jesus’ favorite. You know, Jesus just had a special spot in his heart for John. As a kid I thought it was kinda cool how Jesus had a best friend. So a couple years ago, when I discovered that John was the fella that started the rumor, well, I have to admit, I was impressed. “I like that John,” I thought – starting nice rumors about himself like that.
Oh by the way, I don’t know if you have heard this yet but Jesus loves me best…
The more I thought about it, I realized that if anyone knew about Jesus and His love, it was the disciples and John was one of those fellas. He was with Jesus for three years. He was there when Jesus was moved with compassion and healed two blind men (Matt 20:34). He was there when Jesus wept before raising Lazarus his friend from the dead. (John 11;36). He was there when Jesus healed, restored, delivered, forgave and fed people (The Gospels). He ate, slept, prayed, laughed, cried - he did life with the love that is Jesus. He witnessed with his own two eyes the love that is Jesus poured out to the lost, weak, blind, def – you name the need – John watched love meet it.
He then witnessed love whipped and beaten and spit upon and cursed. He watched as Jesus was spread out, nailed to and the hung on a cross - love in human form giving up his life for all of mankind.
And then John was there for the resurrection, when love displayed his hands and feet to the disciples. He watched love ascend to heaven and experienced love again when it descended in the form of the Holy Spirit. If anyone knew what love looked like it was John.
And this same disciple went on to write a book about love. He went on to tell us all what he’d witnessed. And this is the same disciple who wrote about himself, as “the one Jesus loved.” In essence, the man who knew intimately what love looked like and felt like and acted like went on to tell us that this same love who was Jesus, loved him best. John had a revelation of God and described it as a uniquely shared love that was only available between the two of them. Essentially, what John communicated through his gospel was that as far as he was concerned, he was Jesus’ favorite. Jesus loved him best.
The Bible says that when Jesus went to the cross, he did it “for the joy set before him.” I have recently come to understand that we – you and me and the guy sitting next to me at Starbucks – we are that joy. Jesus loves each of us individually and intimately. And if Johns correct, then somehow we can know Jesus love in such a way that we could say about ourselves “I am the one Jesus loves,” I’m his favorite, He loves me best.
John’s revelation is astounding; Jesus can love each of us as “the one.” How cool is that? What’s more amazing is that Jesus can love each of us as “the one” without undermining His love for someone else. I think Johns understanding reveals the heart of Gods love. You see, from John’s perspective, Jesus was able to love Him best without contradiction.
There is available to us a unique relationship to this love. The heart of God even now speaks over each of us and he says “you are the one that I love."
Jesus doesn’t go to a cross because he has to, he goes for the joy that was set before him. That joy is a unique relationship with me and you. He went to the cross so that we could say with absolute certainty, “I am the one Jesus loves.”