He Loves Me Best

For the Joy Set Before Him









I was reading the gospel of John several years ago.

Somewhere along the way, I realized that John, the author, had a unique way of referencing himself. Three times he wrote about himself in the third person, as the “one Jesus loved.”

“One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.” (John 13:23)

“So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved…” (John 20:2)

“…And saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.” (John 21:20)

I grew up hearing preachers refer to John as Jesus’ favorite. You know, Jesus just had a special spot in his heart for John. As a kid I thought it was kinda cool how Jesus had a best friend. So a couple years ago, when I discovered that John was the fella that started the rumor, well, I have to admit, I was impressed. “I like that John,” I thought – starting nice rumors about himself.

The more I thought about it, I realized that if anyone knew about Jesus and His love, it was the disciples, and John was one of those fellas. He was with Jesus for three years. He was there when Jesus was moved with compassion and healed two blind men (Matt 20:34). He was there when Jesus wept before raising Lazarus his friend from the dead. (John 11;36). He was there when Jesus healed, restored, delivered, forgave and fed people.

He ate, slept, prayed, laughed, cried – he did life with the love that is Jesus. He witnessed with his own two eyes the love that is Jesus poured out to the lost, weak, blind, def – you name the need – John watched love meet it.

He then witnessed Love in human form whipped and beaten and spit upon and cursed. He watched as Jesus was spread out, nailed to and the hung on a cross, Love, giving up His life for all of mankind.

And then John was there for the resurrection when Love displayed His hands and feet to the disciples.

He watched love ascend to heaven and experienced love again when it descended in the form of the Holy Spirit. If anyone knew what love looked like it was John.

And this same disciple went on to write a book about love. He went on to tell us all what he’d witnessed. And he wrote in this book about himself, as “the one Jesus loved.” In essence, the man who knew intimately what love looked like and felt like and acted like went on to tell us that this same love who was Jesus, loved him best. John had a revelation of God and described it as a uniquely shared love that was only available between the two of them. Essentially, what John communicated through his gospel was that as far as he was concerned, he was Jesus’ favorite. Jesus loved him best.

The Bible says that when Jesus went to the cross, He did it “for the joy set before Him.” I have recently come to understand that we – you and me and the guy sitting next to me at Starbucks – we are His joy. Jesus loves each of us individually and intimately. And if John is correct, then somehow we can know Jesus’ love in such a way that we could say about ourselves “I am the one He loves,” I’m His favorite, He loves me best.

John’s revelation is astounding; Jesus can love each of us as “the one.” How cool is that? What’s more amazing is that Jesus can love each of us as “the one” without undermining His love for someone else. I think John’s understanding reveals the heart of God’s love. You see, from John’s perspective, Jesus’ one of a kind affection, His favorite love for John was never in contradiction to His favorite love you or me. His love is measureless, perfect and intimate.

There is available to us a unique relationship to this love. The heart of God even now speaks over each of us and He says “you are the one that I love.”

Jesus doesn’t go to a cross because He has to, He goes for the joy that was set before Him. That joy is a unique relationship with me and with you. He went to the cross so that we could say with absolute certainty, “I am the one Jesus loves.”

Jason Clark
is a writer, speaker and lead communicator at A Family Story ministries. His mission is to encourage sons and daughters to grow sure in the love of an always-good heavenly Father. He and his wife, Karen, live in North Carolina with their three children.


  1. bk

    Jason,The Bible vs. Tradition? You wrote that when you were reading the fourth gospel you noticed that "the author – had a unique way of referencing himself" — regarding terms like "the disciple whom Jesus loved", "other disciple", "other disciple, whom Jesus loved", etc. that the author used to refer to himself. But here is a question that you may not have considered — do any of the things that this author told us about himself suggest that he was the Apostle John (as you have assumed)?When the Bible urges the readers of scripture to "prove all things" it certainly was not suggesting that they should look to the hearsay of men as their standard of truth but, rather, in accord with Ps. 118:8 they should look to scripture and trust the authority of God's word — and not the traditions of men which may be added to that word. While the term "the disciple whom Jesus loved" depicts the one-of-kind-relationship that the author had with Jesus, it is also true that no verse of scripture ever said that John had this unique relationship with Jesus. The fact is that there is not a single verse that would justify teaching the idea that John was the unnamed "other disciple, whom Jesus loved". This is why repetition of hearsay from non-Bible sources must be used to sell the John tradition. The fourth gospel does present the author’s eyewitness testimony, but the facts recorded in the plain text of scripture can actually prove that WHOEVER the unnamed "other disciple, whom Jesus loved" was he could not have been John – because that idea actually forces the Bible to contradict itself. The truth is that the man-made John tradition was a case of mistaken identity. (This, for example, explains why the Jesus' transfiguration, his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, and his raising of the daughter of Jairus are NOT in the fourth gospel. Only three disciples were present at each of these events and John was one of them. Thus John was able to give eyewitness testimony when it came to these key incidents and yet there is no mention of these events in the fourth gospel, because the author, "the disciple whom Jesus loved", was not John. And the missing 'John testimony' is just the tip of the iceberg.)Those who want to avoid the light of scripture on this topic (because it proves the John tradition is false) will rush to change the subject – raising this-or-that objection to divert attention from what the word of God actually has to say on this topic. On the other hand, those welcome biblical correction may want to check out presentation of the Bible facts on this topic (just scripture, no hearsay from non-Bible sources) in a free eBook at http://www.TheGospelofJohn.com that uses the evidence in scripture to show why the one whom "Jesus loved" could not have been John.A good first step in seeking truth on this issue is to just read the fourth gospel from beginning to end with this question in mind, "Who would I conclude that its unnamed author was based on just the facts stated in his own gospel?" Those who do won't come to the conclusion that the one whom "Jesus loved" was John because none of the evidence points toward John. However, those who go on further to compare the facts recorded about this author in his own gospel to what scripture tells us about John, will discover that whoever the unnamed "other disciple, whom Jesus loved" was he could not possibly have been the Apostle John. Not only did these two men behave differently, more important is the fact that there are Bible details that are reported about these two men that are mutually exclusive — they cannot be the same person or the Bible would have to contradict itself.Jim

  2. Jason Clark

    Thanks for the input John, nice to make your acquaintance! I believe John wrote the Gospel of John because that's what my Bible says. It may be intellectually naive, but Im ok with that. The message in my blog is true regardless of the gospels author. Jesus died for a unique love relationship with each of us. You and I and yes the fella here at Starbucks, we are the "joy that was set before him." When Jesus went to the cross, he did it so that we could know him in a "one that he loves" revelation.Thanks again, bless ya!

  3. Lloyd Clark

    hm hm hm ha ha hm hmhmmmmDon't you love it. I would much rather be lost in the arms of Jesus than be lost in details.What an amazing revelation Jason.So… there is a Jason shaped vacuum in the heart of God…what a big heart! He loves you too?

  4. Leda Hoffman

    Your article reminds me of something I read many years ago about a mother who wrote each of her brood a letter telling each one of them that they were her favorite. I followed suite and did the same with my four children. In one way or the other each of them is my favorite. I always thought John was being a little inclusive but still just glad that he feels like a favorite. I know I do and for no reasonable reason. I am not as gifted, prosperous, “together” as many others that seem that they would have such a high degree of favor. But when I sit down to enter into His Presence, get an insight into His Word or when I step out to minister Truth and love to someone and feel totally unqualified for the task and He shows Himself Strong I feel downright favored. In answer to bk, at some point I walked away from Trust, didn’t even know it until I was in a pit. A missionary got my attention when she said she didn’t always have clarity but always trust. Was so helpful. Like you I think my Good Good God would have managed to correct the Book of John’s author if He wanted to.

    • Jason Clark

      Hey Leda, love your insight and story. It’s astounding how expansive and complete His love is! Our language cannot contain or fully capture His goodness.

      Your story on how God had you connect with your kids is awesome. I find that the best place to discover how His love works is with our family or those we love. Thanks for sharing!


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