“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved, following them.”
– John 21:20
I’m just going to pause there, we’re not even going to read all of John 21:20. There’s a lot going on in this context, but I want to pray according to that simple phrase, that John who’s writing this gospel uses to refer to himself. Like, “Peter turned and saw, not John.” Didn’t say, “Peter turned and saw me.” He says, “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Like that’s how John saw himself. Like his identity is, “I’m the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Now we know from other passages that there actually was some competition between these disciples over who would be the greatest. And Jesus spoke into that. And there’s a sense in which you could read this and be like, “Yeah, is this John saying Jesus loved me more than others?” I don’t think so. I think, and based on all we see in John’s writings here, in the gospel that he has written.
We praise You, O God, for giving us an identity that lasts forever. Help everyone listening to see themselves as disciples loved by Jesus.
This Verse Explains How We Should See Our Identities
And then in 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, it is clear. This is John’s identity in his mind and his heart. Like, “Who are you?” “I am a follower of Jesus, whom he loves.” And I just want to encourage you to see your identity for all of you who trusted in Jesus in the same way. Don’t tie up your identity with your career, right. Because when your career’s not there anymore, then where will your identity be? Don’t tie up your identity in a relationship with this person, even think marriage relationship.
As important as that is to me and for me to be a husband to my wife, that’s not guaranteed. My wife and I shudder to think about the thought, but it’s not guaranteed to be here tomorrow, neither am I for her. So she doesn’t need to have her primary identity in being a wife or a mom. I don’t need to have my primary identity being a husband, or a dad or anything else. Root your identity, how you see yourself, as a follower of Jesus, whom he loves.
John 21:20 Praises God For Giving Us An Identity That Lasts Forever
Because the reality is no matter what happens in your career, no matter what happens in marriage and parenting, no matter what happens in this world, that identity will never, ever, ever leave you. Live in that. Oh God, we praise you for this reality. I think about something I heard earlier today, someone talking about their identity being in something they were doing in this world. And I remember just thinking, “Oh, that’s destined to fail them. That won’t last forever.” So, we praise you oh God for giving us an identity that lasts forever and not an identity that’s bad, that last forever. The most glorious identity possible, to be one loved by you, following Jesus. Yes, we gladly embrace this identity. We say, “Yes, I am a disciple whom Jesus loves.”
John 21:20 Prays That Other People Start To Want This Identity
So, God help us to see this. I pray over every single person who’s listening right now that they would see themselves today, as disciples loved by Jesus. And God, I pray, I imagine there might be some listening right now who would say, “Well, that’s not my identity. I have not become a follower of Jesus.”
God, I pray that that would change, even today I pray this would be the moment where someone says, “I want this identity. I want to follow Jesus. I want to live in his love forever.” God I pray that that identity transformation would happen today. And God that you would use us to lead others to experience this unshakable eternal identity. Oh, all glory be to your name. Oh God, all glory be to your name Jesus, for making us disciples whom you love. In your name we pray as disciples whom you love. Amen.