Summary: We can have the same confidence of God’s love for us that John had when he acknowledged that he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (Jn 13:23).
“What’s Love Got To Do With It?”
If you were to guess, what do you think is the one thing in life a person wants more than anything else? Fame, wealth, beauty, status, power, position? I would argue that while a lot of people think that any one of, or a combination of, these would make them feel complete, none of these will truly make us feel whole.
I mean think about it, riches by itself is empty. We all know about rich folks who have ended their lives because they felt something was missing. Fame is fleeting. Just ask any of the “one hit wonder” groups of the 80’s or 90’s. Fame neither lasts nor does it give real meaning to a person’s life. And beauty? Well, whatever we have of it is slowly but surely giving way to time and gravity.
Power, position, status all these are relative. There’s always someone with more power, with a better position and higher status. So these can’t provide real meaning or purpose.
We are so desperate for this thing we need that we will spend our days searching for it. And if we don’t find it, we’ll go through life feeling unfulfilled and empty. It’s as important to us as the air we breathe. People have been known to cross oceans, scale mountains, traverse deserts in search of it.
So what is this one overarching need every human being has? It is to be loved. And I don’t just mean to be cared about or liked. I’m talking about being loved in a way that only true love can satisfy. To be loved without having to pretend to be someone we’re not--without our masks, without pretense, without expectation, without exception. More than anything we want to be loved for who we are.
One guy found this kind of love but unfortunately his life was tragically cut short. You’ve probably heard of him. He was one of the most recognized celebrities in all of Hollywood. I mean he had star-power. He had one of the longest running television series in history, and good looking . . . Wow! was he ever. He even had steady girlfriend.
And although there wasn’t as much press around his death as there was around say, Michael Jackson’s, his untimely demise has left a hole in the heart of all of us. I was able to download a recent tabloid photo of him and the disease that so tragically took his life. (show Kermit slide) . . . Yes, Kermit the Frog is the first celebrity to actually die of the Swine Flu, and I think it goes without saying where, or better said, from whom he got it . . . (show Kermit and Miss Piggy slide).
Okay that had only a little to do with today’s sermon but I thought you might enjoy a little chuckle–or groan–this morning. Just as long as it didn’t make you croak . . . .get it? Croak? Kermit the Frog? Okay never mind.
All right, we were talking about love . . . remember? And while we are all searching for real love–the kind that accepts us for who we are–most people find it hard to believe that it’s possible to be loved like that.
We can be skeptical that kind of love really exists in the world. And with good reason, so much of what gets depicted as love in our culture is superficial, fleeting and generally self-serving. Consequently, it is difficult to believe that we could ever be loved, in the truest sense of the word, by another person or even by God.
A few weeks ago I read some thing in scripture that struck me as particularly significant and it has been percolating in my mind ever since. It’s a short phrase that we’ve all probably read or heard before, but may have passed through our awareness unnoticed. It’s in John’s gospel. Turn with me if you will to John 13:23. (Have on slide and read). John writes, “One of the disciples– the one whom Jesus loved –was reclining next to him.” Did you see it?–the one whom Jesus loved.
In chapter 20, verse 2, he writes, “[Mary Magdalene] ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have put him.’“ There it is again, the one whom Jesus loved.
And in 21:20 John writes, “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; this was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper . . . “
What’s interesting is that John asserts no less than four times in his gospel that he is “the one whom Jesus loved.” For some reason I found that fascinating and I began to wonder what compelled John to write these words.