Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
If you had been living in the time of Jesus, do you think you would have felt worthy to be called as one of His disciples? The honest truth is that those twelve men were not outstanding personalities, at least most were not. Only three or four give evidence of gifts of leadership. In fact they were not called to be "leaders." They were called to be witnesses. And it doesn't take a great personality to be a witness!
Among the three or four who were leaders is John. When we read his sweet, gentle, gracious three letters written near the end of his life, we can't imagine what he was like at first. A wise writer tells us that at first he was harsh, ambitious, combative, critical, impetuous, outspoken, proud, resentful, revengeful, self-assertive, and violent in spirit. That's the kind of man that John was when the Lord invited him to leave his fishing business and follow Him in that special three-year "university training" course.
Several times in his Gospel, John speaks of himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7; 21:20). Sounds strange. Was he boasting, telling everybody that he (John) was sort of "teacher's pet"? If so, how do you think the other disciples felt? Didn't Jesus love them too? (Of course they may all have been dead by the time John wrote his Gospel; but that wouldn't forgive his apparent arrogance.)
Remember that the word John used when he said Jesus loved him was agape; and agape is the kind of love that loves bad people, ugly people, arrogant, harsh, rude, violent people. I think John may be saying, "The agape of Jesus singled me out simply because I was the most violent, harsh, combative, unworthy of the lot! No, he was not being proud when he said, speaking even after the resurrection, that he was the disciple whom Jesus especially loved. He meant that he was the one who needed that love the most! And look what it did to him. Receive that love yourself--that's all you can do and that's all that John did.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: June 30, 1997.
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