It can be hard to feel or believe that God loves you when you’re in the middle of deep, faith-testing trials. I’ve been experiencing the incredible perspective of emerging on the other side, which (while it admittedly could just be the sheer relief of again having a job with a steady paycheck) has revealed how very much God must love me, to go to such lengths to change me. It reminded me of a conversation a friend and I had about God’s love for us. The following is a re:view of a previously-written post about our position as disciples of Jesus.
A friend and I were walking on the beach the other day, talking about different spiritual things, and my friend said, “You know, I always kind of suspected that Peter was Jesus’ favorite disciple.”
Wondering which of the disciple’s was Jesus’ favorite is a fine tradition, going all the way back to, well… the disciples themselves. But I think we love Peter because he seems like the underdog – a big, clumsy, uneducated tradesman who was actually dumb enough to climb out of a boat in the middle of a raging storm, who failed spectacularly in the most important test of his life… three times. And yet, Peter is one of only two human beings we know of who literally walked on water. And in John 21 Jesus affirmed Peter’s love three times: “Feed my sheep.”
Then, just two chapters later Peter is bringing It – preaching the Gospel, and he is absolutely fearless. He is relentless. The tradesman is now an inspired orator. The underdog becomes the Rock. We love that about Peter.
Yet it is John who is repeatedly referred to in the Gospels as “the disciple Jesus loved.” Apparently he thought he was the favorite. My friend and I laughed at the scenario… “hey, I get to write my version of a Gospel, so I’ll be clever and not use my name. I’ll just subtly let everyone know I was really the favorite… the ‘disciple Jesus loved.'”
We walked a bit further, and then my friend said thoughtfully, “You know… maybe it’s just that John really understood who he was. Maybe he recognized his true identity…”
I think that happens sometimes. We forget our true identity. We think we are Bob the financial planner, or Debbie the secretary or just a frazzled “Mommy,” a nobody or a somebody. But as followers of Jesus, each one of us can claim the identity of “the disciple Jesus loves.” Think about that.