I finished my reading of the Gospel of John this morning and I spent most of it laughing. Yes, I do believe that there are some humorous things in the Bible. God created us in His image, right? If we have a sense of humor, so does He! Let's lighten up, for Peter's sake. (See what I did there?) That being said, I ended my reading of John's words in tears. Let me explain.
Five times in his gospel, the apostle John calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Five times! (Jn 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:7, 21:20) He describes all the others by name, but always calls himself, "the disciple whom Jesus loved." By times three, four, and five, I'm saying, "Good Lord John! We get it already! Jesus loved you!" And you know what? That's the thing. John obviously knew and believed with every fiber of his being, that Jesus loved him, and he never missed an opportunity to make sure we all know that. By the way, he also didn't miss the opportunity to make sure we knew that he, the disciple that Jesus loved, outran Peter and reached the empty tomb first. (Jn 20: 3) Because love runs after the beloved.
Maybe it wasn't that John was such a good runner, as it was that Peter didn't run as fast as he could have. Here's where the beginning of my tears began. I wonder if Peter remembered that Jesus said He would see them again, and he was afraid of that very moment. After all, the last time...it's almost unbearable to think of it...last time.... his words...his denial..."I don't know the Man", and "the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter." Straight right through.
When Jesus appeared on the beach, is this why Peter jumped in the water, when the others took the boat to shore? Is this why Jesus had to call him to breakfast, after which He and Peter took a walk on the beach.
At this moment, Peter felt far from being "the disciple that Jesus loved." Maybe the disciple that Jesus was disappointed in? Maybe the disciple that Jesus was angry with? Maybe even the disciple who Jesus didn't love? But, oh! That Jesus!
He didn't rebuke Peter. He didn't scold him. He called Peter by his name and simply asked, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" And again, "do you truly love me?" And a third time, "Do you love me?"
"Lord! You know that I love you! I failed you, but I love you. I sinned, but I love you. I know I disappointed you, but I love you!"
Jesus then said, "Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep." He re-commissioned Peter for ministry. Peter wasn't out of the running to be used for the kingdom, because here's the thing. The thing we need the most is NOT to be perfect but be in love with Jesus. Because love runs after the beloved.
I tried to figure out if I was more like John or Peter. Honestly, I guess I'm a little of both. I know that Jesus loves me, but I need to know it more. I need to know it like John. I need to know it so deep that I can't help but tell everyone that I'm the disciple that Jesus loves. But Peter shows me the depth of being that disciple. With all my faults and failings, Jesus loves so deeply that He forgives and recommissions me for His service. And that's where the tears of thankfulness flowed.
What about you? Are you John or Peter? Either way, my friend, you ARE the disciple Jesus loves.