Today the pastor read the 20th chapter of John. When the narrator spoke of “the one Jesus loved” I suddenly read this differently than I have all this time. I always took this to be John modestly–and not so modestly–referring to himself. Modestly: he doesn’t mention his name. Immodestly: he is the only one that Jesus loves? Jesus loves him more than the others? Really?
But this morning I was struck by how similar this is to what Paul says of himself, that he is “chief among sinners”. What if John identifies himself in his thoughts constantly as “the one whom Jesus loves”, out of a sense of awe and amazement?
- Yeshua loves him, a sinner. (He was, after all, part of the squabble about which brother deserved the greater honor.)
- Yeshua loves him. (The books of John and 1 John are particularly emphatic about God’s love.)
- Yeshua loves him. (John knows Jesus was man, testifying he saw and heard and touched a real body. But he also knows Jesus is the fullness of God, the Logos enfleshed, chesed and emeth (grace and truth) embodied.
Paul says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He says to dwell on the virtues (whatever is good, noble, pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy…) that we are to imitate. He says, “Take every thought captive to Christ.”
The fact is that we are sinners. But the truth is that we are the ones Jesus loves. Which idea has the power to transform? Which one identifies me most truly?
That I am a sinner I’ll never forget, but that I am in Christ I shall always confess.
“Who are you?”
“I am the one whom Jesus loves!”