Each day of this devotional series, we will consider key moments in God’s glorious plan to redeem us. We will understand both the overarching story of God and the highlights of all He’s done for us in Christ.
Before traveling to a certain Asian country on a mission trip, I had to practice holding hands with another man. In the culture we were going to, male friends often hold hands. If we wanted to make friends there, we had to hold hands. It seemed weird to us Americans. In many cultures around the world, men are more affectionate with each other, including back in Jesus’ day.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” – John 13:23, King James Version
I find the intimacy of this verse shocking. It occurred during the Last Supper. The apostle John leaned against Jesus like a recliner. I’m not sure what the Greek for “snuggling” is, but that certainly describes the situation. Even more, he identifies himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” Clearly, Jesus was John’s BFF (his best friend forever).
It’s no surprise, then, that John is the apostle of love. In his gospel, John assures us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16, New International Version).
In his epistle, 1 John, he says, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7, New International Version). If God’s love resides in us, we don’t have to hold hands. But we do have to love.
The apostle Paul wanted to preach the gospel far and wide. John wanted the gospel to go deep into our hearts and express itself as love for others. God’s redemptive plan includes not only infiltration but also transformation. If love really characterized our churches, it would change our world.
At my wedding, someone went around asking each of our guests for one-word descriptions of my wife and me. For me, almost everyone said “creative,” and one said “loving” (thanks, Mom!). I still have time, before my funeral, to change that ratio around. Like the apostle John, I want to be known for love. And, like him, I think the key is leaning on Jesus.
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