John calls himself the disciple whom Jesus loved in the Gospel that he penned. For years I thought this was perhaps false modesty on John’s part. Why couldn’t he refer to himself in the first person like some of the Greats before him? Men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Why choose such a wordy title when I, me and my would suffice. But do they?
The disciple whom Jesus loved are words that have been weighing on my mind for the last week. John writes the best known verse in all the Bible, For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever shall believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. As he stood at the foot of the cross John was the only disciple to actually see how much God loved the world, to recognize how much Jesus loved not only the whole world, but more personally John himself. He couldn’t help but call himself the disciple whom Jesus loved and to be changed because of his certainty of Christ's love.
JOHN: NEW AND IMPROVED
GENTLE: When Jesus stood at the edge of the shore in the final chapter of John, he called out to his disciples, "Friends, haven’t you any fish?" (NIV) This is one of those times where the NIV fails to capture the best meaning of the Greek. The NASB translates the sentence this way.“Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” Can you hear the tenderness in His voice? When I read this sentence, I hear it as a rhetorical question. He knew they have no fish. I hear Jesus speaking to His closest friends as a father in this scene. This scene must have lived on in John’s mind for it became clear to him that he was not to seek glory but to seek ways to serve. He was not to lord authority over others but to be a father to his spiritual children. John used the word children frequently in his letters. He echoed the tenderness of Jesus in his writing.
ALL INCLUSIVE: John wrote his Gospel that all might believe, that all may have eternal life.
HUMBLE: John could have included miracles he had performed. He could have told us how he was related to Caiaphas in chapter 18. He could have told us how brave he was to remain with Jesus throughout the crucifixion. He could have at least dropped his own name into his book a few times but he does none of these things. Instead, he focused the spotlight completely on Jesus. John realized that he could not improve on the message of Jesus' life and death and resurrection.
UNDERSTANDING: Daniel 2:21 states, He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. This was the case with John. John was already quick to understand just by reading the clues around him. After the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, John must have been overwhelmed with understanding. His gospel clearly shows the correlation between the Jewish holy days and Jesus’ ministry. He was entrusted to share the future with us through the book of Revelation. He wrote to protect the Church from the snares of Gnosticism. His writing is powerful, logical, and persuasive. I am most amazed at the artistry in his words.
Once Peter and John were boldly proclaiming the gospel. They were seized and thrown in jail and they spoke before the Sanhedrin the next day. The Sanhedrin. The group that had Jesus put to death. Peter and John preached the gospel to these men courageously. When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that they had been with Jesus.
John shows me that we have the ability to astonish others with our faith. Like John, when we have been with Jesus, when we understand how much He loves us, it will show. Don’t the changes we find in John’s character give you hope that you will slowly put away your shortcomings and dress garment by garment in a more Christ like nature? John’s example fills me with hope and helps me look past my momentary failures. I know that change will be wrought in my own character because I know with certainty that I am one whom Jesus loves. And so are you.