There was something very different about the Apostle John. He was the youngest of all of Jesus’ disciples, but a quality lay deep within John that set him apart from all the other disciples. We can see that difference at the Last Supper and again at the foot of the Cross as Jesus hung in agony. It was even displayed after the resurrection of Jesus.
In each of these instances, John is referred to as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” Even more revealing is the fact that John wrote this about himself. John described himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.”
On the surface this could sound like arrogance, yet it actually points to something very powerful. At the crux of this is a revelation that John had about himself: Jesus loved him!
Throughout John’s Gospel, and the epistles he later wrote, are found the Bible’s deepest insights into God’s love for us, as well as how to live in this divine love. John gives us more truth regarding God’s love than any other writer of the New Testament. His insight originated in a deep, abiding knowledge of God’s love for him personally.
Four times the Apostle John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John wasn’t saying that he was the only disciple Jesus loved but that he knew he was loved by Jesus. It was a love John had come to believe in without reservation.
This God-kind of love is the Greek word agape ─ a unique word in the Greek text of the New Testament. Agape is a word that was nearly absent from Greek writing before the time of Jesus. It was only during Jesus’ ministry that this word became a picture of God’s love.
Of course, the God-kind of love is the highest love that exists. Agape knows no limits or boundaries as to how wide, deep, high, or far it will go to demonstrate love. Agape will sacrifice itself for the sake of the person so deeply loved. This love has no strings attached. It is not looking for what it can take from a relationship, but rather for what it can give. Agape so values the object loved that nothing will turn it away.
The message of the entire New Covenant centers around this simple fact: God’s love for us is unconditional. This means we don’t have to try to qualify for His love. We already qualify to receive it! We have no conditions to meet, and there is no pressure on us to measure up. Our Heavenly Father loves us just as we are, and there is nothing that can separate us from His love.
The Apostle Paul made this amazing statement about the God-kind of love:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV).
Nothing can separate us from God’s unconditional love!