Valentine's Day has come and gone and I am sure you have noticed that it is set in place by our present culture to be all about ‘love’. Certainly, we pray for marriages and our other human relationships to be well cared for. Yet, there is a greater love story that transcends faces, places and wallets. Where can we go to learn more?
Have you ever felt there was a Bible scripture that you just didn’t understand or left you in a place of confusion? Maybe it even seemed to contradict other verses or concepts clearly stated in other passages.
Some years ago during Sunday worship, my church was meeting at the local baseball park for our annual ‘church out of church’ community outreach. Pastor Eric was speaking from the gospel of John, a key book of the New Testament. Yes, he went right to that passage that is very well known, often quoted, but consistently left me with a question in my mind. Okay, you might be thinking John 3:16, the most memorized verse in the Holy Bible. But my question arose from a different phrase used not merely once, but five times in the book of John. Clearly a point is being strongly made with the frequent repetitions.
John, the author himself is speaking, and says in these five places:
- John 13:23 “One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at the table close to Jesus,”…
- John 19:26 “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother…”
- John 20:2 “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them,”…
- John 21:7 “That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter; ‘It is the Lord!’”
- John 21:20 “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at the table close to him…”
My question was short and simple to God, “Isn’t this kind of arrogant of John, perhaps selfish?” He gets to be the one loved: what about the rest of us?
God is impressing me again with how foundational it is to digest and apply this. I am reminded from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NIV
There is no mistake - John, is the disciple whom Jesus loved. Yet the precise correction God impressed on me that day was, “No Lisa, my disciple John was not being arrogant. He described himself in the highest way he possibly could. That Jesus, my Son, loved him.” There is no clearer, no greater way to share about oneself than the fact that Jesus loves us. The gracious re-direction continued, “Wouldn’t it be best for you to think of yourself this way too?”
WOW, I am Lisa, the disciple whom Jesus loves. You are one too: the disciple whom Jesus loves! Even as I write this, I want to hesitate, that I may be taking some of His love from another. But once again, in His loving instruction, God reminds me from that most quoted verse John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” So, who is the world? You of course!
His love is not limited to John, or me or you, but abides in abundance for the whole world; past, present, and future lives. Today close your eyes and open your mind to describe yourself that you are His beloved. Wake up tomorrow with His description of you on your mind; the one He loves. Receive His love and respond to it by simply loving Him back.
Rejoice in this great love story! Almighty God, in His unspeakable majesty, is in love with you, His creation. Really! And out of that love, He longs to connect with you and I - one on one - all the time! This is a truly astounding revelation of Himself, and speaks volumes about His incomparable love.
Prayer is the way we have relationship with the One who loves our souls: listening, speaking, learning. Prayer helps us receive His love and express our love to Him in return. Remember, you are the one He loves!
- Lisa Crump, Director of Prayer Mobilization