John often refers to himself as the Beloved Disciple in his Gospel. I never really gave this much thought outside of simply being poetic. I had heard that it was out of John’s humility that he used that title, which seemed an acceptable reason at the time. But when you think about it, it does seem a bit egotistical. Kind of seems like he is bragging. How is that humble?
The other day Dr. Black gave the best explanation, which happened to be also very edifying. He basically said (rough paraphrase) that John could have described himself in any number of ways. He could have called himself the Apostle, the Favorite, the Baller, Secretary of the Inner Three, the Man with a Revelation, whatever. Instead, John simply refers to himself as the Disciple whom Jesus loved. And here is why this is a beautiful portrayal of humility:
John looked back at his time with Jesus and time and time again he stumbled, he fell, and he failed his master. However, in all of his failures, betrayals, and sins, Jesus kept loving John. He loved him in spite of all of his shortcomings and at the end of the day his shortcomings would not define him. Christ’s love did. Is there a better description of who we are?
We are not his beloved because of who we are but rather for who He is.
“Love means loving the unlovable – or it is no virtue at all.” – Chesterton