The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

John 13:23

One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

In John’s gospel he doesn’t often refer to himself as a member of the disciples.  Instead he refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

Aside from the fact that it seems odd for John to refer to himself in the third person with such a title, there feels like there is a problem of Jesus showing favoritism as well.  Why is John singled out for this title?

Scripture is clear that God doesn’t show favoritism but God does bless some people more than others.  David committed terrible sins but he was considered a man after God’s own heart.  Jesus chose twelve men to follow Him and even among these He had an “inner circle” of Peter, James, and John.  And John was called the one whom Jesus loved.  (And historically John is the only disciple who wasn’t martyred although he was boiled in oil – it didn’t kill him – and sent into exile on the island of Patmos.)

God doesn’t play favorites but He does respond to those who love Him.  Throughout history certain people have shown tremendous faith and God has chosen to bless them.  Abraham, David, and John all loved God and God in turn blessed them.  We can’t know the mind of God so we can’t say for certain why He chose these men but their faith is a crucial element to their blessing.

Love of Life

John 12:25

The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

We often think of someone who loves life as a happy-go-lucky kind of person.  They are carefree and tend to take life as it comes and not worry about the bumps along the road.  As Jesus has taught us not to worry, this kind of love of life should be encouraged.

When Jesus refers to a love of life in this passage in John, He is painting a love of life in a negative light.  The person who loves life in this regard is someone who is attached to all that goes on in life and is unwilling to give up the pleasures of life.

People who are attached to the things of this world are unwilling to sacrifice them for the good of others or even the good of themselves.  In contrast to this person is the one who hates his life in this world.

This obviously isn’t talking about a literal hate or a reference to someone who is suicidal.  Instead, it is referring to someone who is willing to sacrifice and has not placed the cares of this world above all other things.

Like many things, this comes down to priorities.  A person who loves his life is going to be focused on the here and now and their priorities will be on enjoying life.  The person who hates their life will realize that they are looking for eternity.  Their priorities will be focused on the things of God and not the things of this world.

Love of Darkness

John 3:19

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3:19 comes just a few verses after the most well known verse in the Bible, John 3:16.  It serves as a commentary on that verse but also as judge of those who reject its message.

Jesus is the gift of God; He is the Light of the World.  Some people debate how a loving God can send people to hell but this verse explains how.

God’s love does not fail man.  Jesus, as the gift of God, is available to take away the sins of the world.  But people reject the gift.  Rather than walking in the light many people choose to continue in darkness.

Light and darkness can’t exist in the same place.  Light permeates through darkness.  When darkness is exposed to light, there is not a battle that takes place, light will always triumph.  We know that the darkness can be removed by exposing it to light.

On the other hand, there is nothing that can be done to make light into darkness.  The only course of action is to block the light out.  While we can flip a switch to make a room lighter, there is no such switch to turn on darkness.

Those who wish to continue in darkness must stay in darkness.  Darkness can’t exist in the presence of light.  For this reason people hide in darkness.  They love darkness and don’t want their evil deeds to be exposed.

Love Grown Cold

Matthew 24:12

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

It is difficult to say if things are worse today than they were ten years ago or fifty years ago.  The common complaint is that yesteryear was always a better time and that people loved each other more and showed common courtesy to each other.

The truth of the matter is that days gone by, no matter what days one is referring to, is remembered and looked upon with rose colored glasses.  In other words, it wasn’t really as great as remembered.  There were problems then too but since they are in the past they are quickly forgotten.

This isn’t meant to make light of the current problems in our era though.  What Jesus foretold in Matthew 24 was happening in the days of the apostles and it is happening today and it will grow even worse in the future until He returns.

Wickedness will increase as the years and centuries (if we have that long) go by.  As wickedness increases love will decrease or grow cold as Jesus puts it.

As Christians we must be all the more diligent to share God’s love with everyone that we meet.  Whether it is reality or simply our perception that things are getting worse, there is no denying that people need to experience God’s love.  The darker things become, the more we must be the light of the world.

Love of Family

Matthew 10:37

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

This is one of Jesus’ more difficult teachings because it is easy to take it out of context or otherwise confuse its meaning.  Jesus is certainly not saying that it is wrong to love one’s family.  However we must keep our love for family in perspective.

Today as well, but particularly in Jesus’ time people had to make a difficult decision on whether to follow Him or not.  It often meant leaving the religious traditions of the rest of the family.  Not only would this cause pain within the family relationship, it may also lead to a person being an outcast from the family altogether.

Jesus is saying that every person must make a choice of whether it is more important to follow Him or to keep their family happy.  There can’t be a middle ground with regard to this; a person must choose one or the other.

Today this issue often plays out in a different way.  Parents are pressured to miss church services because a son or daughter wants to be involved in sports or some other activity.  A parent must make the decision of what is going to be more important – church or the activity their child wants to participate in.

Many times a compromise is attempted but it rarely works.  Parents justify missing some services because the activity is only for a few months.  But then comes another activity and another.  Just like family is important, there is nothing wrong with participating in sports or other activities but everyone must decide where their priorities are going to lie.  Jesus wants people who put Him first in their lives and that even means over family.