By Scott Fiddler
21When Jesus had said this, He became troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” 22 The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. 23 There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” 25 He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus then answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. 29 For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 So after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.
When reading these ten verses it’s easy to want to talk about Judas, but I want to focus on John, the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23. Jesus loved all His disciples (John 13:1), but He had a special affection for John. John mentions more than once that he is “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” See John 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 20. John thought Jesus’ special affection for him was important enough to mention and, more importantly, the Holy Spirit, in inspiring John to write his gospel apparently thought it important enough to record.
When Jesus revealed to Peter that he (Peter) would later be martyred, Peter asked about John, “But what about this man?” John 21:21. Jesus said, “If I want him to remain until I return what is that to you?” John 21:22. We know from history John was the only disciple not martyred. Then, when Jesus was on the cross and wanted to ensure His mother was taken care of for the remainder of her life, Jesus put her in the care of John. See John 19:25-27. In fact, John apparently ended up journeying to Ephesus with Mary where John ultimately died and was buried. Jesus indeed had a special affection for John.
But doesn’t Jesus love everyone the same? I’m not so sure, and I’m not even sure where we get that. The Old Testament recounts the Lord’s statement, “I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau.” Mal. 1:2-3. The Apostle Paul confirmed the statement in the New Testament. See Rom. 9:13. Even if one was to argue, as some have, that “hate” means “to love less,” it does not diminish the point: God loves all but some more than others. I love italian food but that doesn’t mean I love Chicken Parmesan as much as Lasagna.
Should this really surprise us though? God is not an impersonal force. He is personal. And to be personal means to have preferences, likes and dislikes. This does not mean God is unjust or arbitrary. See Rom. 9:13-14. Quite the contrary: He is just and holy, which is why we love Him. But that God is just and holy does not mean He must love us all the same.
My wife, Cindy, and I have had three Persian cats: Godfrey de Bouillon, Bitzy Bouchet, and Cyrus the Great. Persians are very friendly, and our cats have been true to their breed. They have each had their own personalities and we have loved all three of them, but Cindy and I agree Bitzy Bouchet, “Boo” as we called her, was our favorite. She was the sweetest, most loving cat we have ever seen. She just went from one of us to the other wanting to lay against us and be loved, purring all the while. We loved all three of our cats, but we had a preference for her because she loved us the most.
So, what if Jesus loves some more than others? I really don’t think we would want God any other way. Because Jesus is not unjust or arbitrary there are reasons for his preferences. For example, the Lord loves those who pursue godliness (Proverbs 15:9), those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11), those who obey Him, and those who love Him (Deuteronomy 7:9).
And, some people pursue godliness, fear God, obey and love God more than others. I think John was one of those persons. I think that is why John, of all the disciples, was the one leaning back against Jesus’ chest at the last dinner they had together. Maybe that is why John mentioned that fact and that he was the disciple whom Jesus loved in the same verse. See John 13:23.
So, how will knowing all this affect your walk with Jesus?