Five times in the Gospel of John the writer (let’s call him John) says something like ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’. I’ve always assumed John is referring to himself. At first blush that sounds vain and self serving. And I know that the disciples acted like children sometimes. They argued about who was the greatest disciple. They fought about who would sit on Jesus’ left and right in heaven. I can see how you could get the idea that John was saying, “Jesus loved me the best.”
That may be true but I would like to think otherwise. I would like to think that John’s experience with Jesus was so profound, so life changing that it changed his whole identity. It changed how he saw himself. I would like to think that John believed that the one thing that really mattered, that the one thing that defined him was that simple fact, that he was the one whom Jesus loved.
What if John walked the earth today and he decided to print up some business cards? What would he put on them? Saint John the Divine? John the Revelator? John, Disciple and Apostle and Gospel Writer? Maybe not. Maybe he wouldn’t even put his name on there. Maybe he would only put ‘The One Whom Jesus Loved’.
It’s one thing to to think that God loves the world. It’s something else entirely to think that God loves me, that Jesus loves me. One on one. Personal.
So what about it? When somebody says, “Tell me something about yourself.” do you say, “I’m an engineer, or an accountant, or an auto mechanic.”? Or do you say, “I’m the one whom Jesus loves.”?