I have a cat named Bernie. I sometimes joke that he is our personal terrorist, but truthfully, he is my fur-baby and I love him dearly. Not as much as my human baby, but still, he is very much part of the family.
This morning as I was reading my Bible, I started to realize that God has been using that little cat to teach me a thing or two.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against Him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” -John 21:20 (ESV)
Have you ever wondered why the Bible calls John “the disciple whom Jesus loved”? I was watching a Joseph Prince message a few months ago and he answered that question.
All five times that these words appear in scripture are in the book of John. Meaning that John called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” when he wrote it! I laughed out loud when I looked this up for myself and discovered it was true! If authors tend to repeat what’s important, and God allowed this to be in and stay in scripture, I have to believe there’s an important lesson in it.
So then the question becomes: Why would John call himself the disciple whom Jesus loved over and over again?
Because it was true! He knew Jesus. He intimately knew who his Lord was. He knew Jesus’ heart for him. Just look at his posture during the last supper:
There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. So Simon Peter gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” -John 13:23-24 (NASB)
In the verses above, we read that John is leaning on Jesus at the table. He was literally resting on Jesus. I suspect that any of the disciples could’ve chosen to do this, but it was John who took the opportunity and initiative.
And then I noticed Peter in these verses. (The same Peter who got out of the boat and walked on water, btw.) He could’ve asked Jesus who He was speaking about for himself, but he asked John to do it instead.
Was it lack of confidence that made him shrink away from asking the question himself? Did he not know how loved he was by Jesus? Is that what kept him from also calling himself the disciple whom Jesus loved?
On a side note, Peter is the disciple who tells Jesus how much he loves Him and that he’ll never leave His side or betray Him… And we all know how well that turned out.
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. -Mark 14:72 (ESV)
Was Peter trying to love Jesus in his own strength, while John simply rested in the love of his Lord? So. Many. Questions. One day, I intend to ask him.
Back to the point, scripture doesn’t say that John asked for permission to lean on Jesus. And, if John just took it upon himself to lean on Him, and he used the words, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to describe himself, and God allowed this to be in scripture, it leads me to believe that John is to be our example. I believe this is what God wants for us and from us. To declare and believe ourselves to be the disciples, sons and daughters whom Jesus loves. And although Pastor Prince logically answered some of these questions for me, God has really been using Bernie (my cat) to make this lesson sink in.
God is showing me that He wants me to be more like John through Bernie. Bernie just assumes that he’s my favorite. He’s a cat so he can’t tell me that in words, but his actions are pretty solid evidence that he believes this is true. He unashamedly demands attention from me. If he needs something, he’s not shy about letting me know. But most of all, when I’m sitting or laying down somewhere, he comes and sits and lounges with me. He rests with me. And he loves every second of it! He purrs and uses his paws to knead at me. He nestles his head in my hands to get me to notice him and pay attention to him. His sole focus in those times is me.
How often am I like my cat with my heavenly Father? God adopted me just like I adopted Bernie. He loves me way more than I love my little fur-baby, and yet, it has not been my daily habit to go to Him, call on Him, bask in His love the same way that Bernie does with me. Looking back at the verses above, it seems that’s exactly what John was doing at the Last Supper with Jesus.
So why is it that as Christians today we have such a hard time with this? Why don’t I spend more time on a daily basis with God like John did with Jesus, or like Bernie does with me? Is it that I’m so busy that I don’t think I have the time for it? Do I look at it as a luxury, rather than a necessity in my life? Do I not truly believe that I am the daughter and disciple whom Jesus loves? Do I believe that this isn’t something I deserve?
There are so many lessons in scripture that address each one of the questions lies listed above that I could go on for hours, but I won’t. I will just end with my simple revelation from all of this.
God has been speaking to me about this for a good reason. It’s a gift that’s been given to me that is urgent, necessary and out of love, so I would be wise, humble and honoring to God (and His sacrifice) by practically applying this lesson to my life.
I am going to begin declaring over my life that I am the disciple and daughter whom Jesus loves. And my heavenly Father is telling me that it is good – not just ok, but good – for me to put everything else down for a little while every single day and rest on Jesus. The way Bernie rests on me. The way John rested on Jesus. It is good for me to lean into Him, pull at Him, demand His love and attention, boldly ask for the things that I need, and then persistently thank Him while I expectantly wait for them. This is all good! This is what Jesus always had in mind for me!
There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. -John 13:23
My Daddy in heaven wants me to realize and rest in the fullness of His great and good love for me!
He wants this for you too. Are you ready to believe it and act on it?