The Disciple Whom Jesus Kept on Loving
(and Loving and Loving...)
It is only the apostle John who calls himself "the disciple whom
Jesus loved" (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:20). Actually, John uses a tense that
emphasizes a process something like "the disciple whom Jesus kept on
loving." The implication is almost, "he kept on loving me despite myself."
And little wonder.
Do not think of John as some kind of soft, sentimental, wishy-washy
weakling. He was a "son of thunder" (Hebrew for a person with a boisterous
personality). He wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans. He sought the
place of prominence at the right (or, if need be, at the left) hand of Jesus in the
John the weakling? Hardly.
And now, writing many years later at the end of his long life (John
outlived all the other apostles), he has one chance to describe himself to his audience.
He could have done this in several different ways, each with its own emphasis. I might
introduce myself, depending on the occasion, as Beckys husband, Nathans dad, a
surfer from Hawaii, a Greek teacher, a Baptist preacher, and so forth.
And John? Did he write "apostle of Jesus Christ," or
"first bishop of the church at Ephesus," or "author of the Book of
Revelation"? He could have, but he wrote none of these. Thinking back to his
impetuous relationship with the Lord, to his unworthiness even to be called a follower of
Christ, he simply wrote, "the disciple whom Jesus kept on loving."
The description implies, not arrogance (as if he meant "the
disciple whom Jesus loved more than the others"), but a profound sense of divine
Is that not your identity and minewe who know the Lord Jesus as
our Savior and Lord and who also know our own weaknesses and shortcomings? We are but
disciples whom Jesus keeps on loving, and loving, and loving.
Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know,
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace!
O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am his and he is mine.
G. W. Robinson (1838-77)