The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved
Among all those who follow
the Lord, one is uniquely
precious to Him:
Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.
— John 13:23
…Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by….
— John 19:26
As a new believer, when I first noticed the verses above, and the others in John’s Gospel that speak of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (21:7, 21:20), I was really, really bothered. I thought, What do you mean, there’s a disciple whom Jesus loves in a special way, and it’s not me? How can that be? That’s not right; I don’t agree with that!
Basically, I was jealous—though I like to think, looking back now, in a good way.
It wasn’t until a little later I noticed the verse at the end of this Gospel where John confesses he was speaking of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”:
This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
— John 21:24
Finally, I got the point of what John was saying. While his Gospel gives us many objective truths that are quite profound, this is not one of them. Rather, when John spoke of himself in this way, he was not giving us an objective truth, but only expressing his personal feeling about his relationship with the Lord.
With this understanding, these verses indeed show us something quite precious. While this Gospel tells us that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” it is actually showing us something different: that you and I should have that very same feeling toward the Lord.
That is, when you come to the Lord, and as you follow Him, you, just like John, should have a profound sense that, among all those who are with the Lord, you are the unique disciple whom He truly loves.
And to be clear, such a sense is not at all fanciful or misleading, but is based on a solid truth: there is no other follower of the Lord who could love Him and meet His need in quite the way that you can. Not John himself, nor the Apostle Paul, nor any other great servant of the Lord or any other believer you know or could mention. You truly are unique to the Lord, with a unique portion of His grace, and as such, you are also uniquely precious and lovely to Him.
This is like the Song of Songs, which of course is a picture of our love relationship with the Lord. There the Beloved says of the young maiden whom he loved, and who was seeking after him:
There are sixty queens
And eighty concubines,
And virgins without number.
My dove, my perfect one,
Is the only one,
The only one of her mother,
The favorite of the one who bore her.
— Song of Songs 6:8-9
Again, he was not being political or untruthful in saying this. Rather, he spoke of his unique and special love for her, because she truly was unique and special to him.
So is the Lord’s love toward us.
One of Satan’s main line of attacks against the Lord’s children is to cause us to doubt our relationship with the Lord; after all, the name “Satan” means “Accuser.” He is always using means to cause us to doubt God’s love and desire for us; telling us that we are not adequate, that we’ve offended the Lord, etc., and therefore, we have become very common to Him, just a forgotten one among so many myriads of His followers.
There may be truth in what he says; there certainly may be things we need to deal with seriously before the Lord. But, the Devil’s basic line of attack is always a lie (John 8:44), and we must be very firm to reject it.
For among all of the Lord’s followers there is one special disciple who is uniquely precious to Him, one who is “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” whose portion in love and grace and service to Him could never be filled by any other believer.
And that special disciple is you.
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— 2 December 2021 —