Friday, 5th Week of Easter
Author and speaker Brennan Manning came up with a slogan. The slogan is: “I am the one Jesus loves.” It sounds a little arrogant, doesn’t it? But he is actually quoting the Bible. Jesus’ closest friend on earth, the disciple named John, is identified in the Gospels as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Manning said, “If John were to be asked, ‘What’s your primary identity in life?” he would not reply, ‘I am a disciple, an apostle, an evangelist, an author of one of the four Gospels,’ but rather, ‘I am the one Jesus loves.’” We should always be aware of our primary identity: Each of us should be able to say with conviction: “I am the one Jesus loves.” If I can truly believe this, and live by this truth, how differently would I view myself, how differently would I live my life.
Jesus, in today’s gospel reading, reveals another truth about his love for us: He calls us his friends. So we can add to Manning’s slogan: “I am the one Jesus loves, and I am a friend of Jesus.”
“Friends of Jesus” – what an honor! We have not taken such title upon ourselves, but have received it from the Lord. Jesus loves each of one of us with love unsurpassed, unparalleled or unmatched by any we know. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Because this is what Jesus did for us – he laid down his life for us – we can be completely confident that we are his friends.
Jesus is the ultimate friend. No love is greater than the love he offers. This is not an abstract love, but a divine affection that we can experience if we allow ourselves to. The Lord demonstrates his love for us in concrete, discernible, and practical ways.
Yes, Jesus laid down his life for us his friends – as the greatest manifestation of his love for us. But he did not stop there; every day, he offers us gifts of his love. He offers us peace when we are troubled and confused. He offers us rest when we are tired and burdened. He offers us gentleness when violence seeks to rage in us. He offers us patience when something or somebody irritates us. He offers us forgiveness when resentment and bitterness threaten to harm or destroy our relationships.