Oh How He Loves Me

Most of us can relate to Peter. We know him as zealous, passionate, prideful and most notably…the one who denied Jesus. But can we relate to John? Peter’s identity was in how much he professed to love Jesus. John’s identity was in being the beloved of Jesus.

In the Gospel of John, he refers to himself five times as “the disciple whom Jesus loved:

“One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus” John 13:23

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” John 19:26

So she ran and went 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 laid him.” John 20:2

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. John 21:7

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” John 21:20

I’ll be honest. There was a time when I was a little offended at reading this Gospel. I thought “What audacity John had to refer to himself in that way!” I felt it was a prideful to make it look like he was Jesus’ favorite.

Get Behind Me Satan!

The problem with finding our identity in our love for God or what we do for Him is that inevitably, we will fall short. Jesus told us to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Even with all the striving in the world, you won’t reach that perfection through your effort. You have to find the source of power to live as Jesus required.

We love Peter’s zeal and his boldness but the source of it was misplaced. His zeal came from his own effort. Jesus gives him a number of rebukes (most notably Matt: 16:23) to teach him this lesson. Zeal and passion are great and I would argue, even necessary. But if it is rooted in the wrong place, you may one day receive a “get behind me Satan” rebuke from the Lord. I know I don’t ever want to hear that. Yikes!

The Power of His Love

I love how Kingdom principles are so counter-cultural and an absolute paradox to human thinking. Remember JFK’s famous quote about serving your country? I would say that Kingdom principles flip that whole quote on it’s head:

Say not how much you love Jesus, but how much He loves you.

I already see you ready to object! Isn’t that how we’re programmed? But before you do, answer me this: “Is there anything we can do for God apart from His power working in us?

I believe John found the source of that power. He found that power in how Jesus loved him. I don’t think John believed that Jesus loved him more than the other apostles. John’s capacity to receive Jesus’ love was expanded. Once John allowed himself to receive His love, he began referring to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. That became his identity.

Intimacy With Jesus

I want to show you something from the first reference John makes. They are eating around the table, partaking of the last supper. John was reclining close to Jesus. Another translation says “reclining on Jesus’ bosom”. What an intimate gesture!

I picture that little boy that will not stay off his father’s lap. The one that does everything just to be close to daddy. Now I know we are talking about two grown men here, but take in this scene in your mind’s eye. John was leaning right up against Jesus as they ate. This is a seriously intimate friendship that he shared with Jesus.

Jesus had just finished saying that one of the disciples would betray him. Since John is in such an intimate place with the Lord, this is what happens:

“so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, ‘Lord, who is it?'” John 13:24-25

Jesus tells John but no one else. He must have whispered it into his ear since he was so close. You can deduct that he only told John because no one else knew that it was Judas. Otherwise, as soon as Judas dipped the bread after Jesus they would have said something.

When you are the beloved of Jesus, you have access.

John was so close to Jesus that he was able to ask Him this in secret. Jesus told John before anyone else found out. Peter didn’t have the same place of intimacy with the Lord at that moment so he had to ask John to ask Him.

How He Loves Us

How He Loves Us

How He Loves Us

If you listen to any kind of Christian music, the chances are pretty good that you’ve heard the song “How He Loves Us“. It was written by John Mark McMillan. Most have heard the David Crowder Band (edited) version. Some have heard Kim Walker’s version on the Jesus Culture album We Cry Out. Many have heard the version from John’s album “The Medicine.” None of these are my favorite.

The original version was from his album called The Song Inside The Sounds of Breaking Down. It is raw and has stripped down production. He chokes up at the end of the song and I love that it isn’t edited out. You hear the nakedness of his faith. It is exposed and without makeup. It is the sound of a man who realizes that he is loved.

You can listen to it here.

This song changed my life. I don’t think I can listen to it all the way through without weeping. There is so much healing in this song because it marks a shift in my life. The shift from striving to receiving. I went from trying to be something for God, to letting Him love me. I’ve found my identity not in how I love Him, but how He loves me.

There is power in His love. His love enables us to do everything He’s asked. Not only does it enable us to do it, but because we’re loved, it’s easy.

I pray that today He expands your capacity to receive His love.

Do you believe that He loves you the way John did or are you striving like Peter?


  1. Awesome post man I love it, and I love the song it has opened me to many things all they way around, the first time I heard it it blow my mind like no joke

  2. Dude…I thought I’d responded earlier. Great post, great song.

  3. I am trying to read this and reflect on it but the baby is giving me fits tonight and I’m here by myself (hubs at a Blazer game with a client.) I’m hoping to get baby to sleep soon. Before I lose my mind.

    All that to say I am trying!

  4. Seriously love this song, all versions. It tells of the unconditional love of His, and oh how He does so in such a way we can “almost” comprehend, to a lesser degree than the Bible of course.

    Btw, love the new digs :-)

  5. When I started reading this, I was arrogant enough to think that you were writing about me and I w0ndered what on earth I had done to deserve this….

    Then I realized that you were talking about some other guy named Peter.


  6. Nice new digs bro’….swaaaaweet! The song is a favorite of mine, and you hit on why with your post. Are you inside my head dude or what? Bless ya!

  7. Ok first – LOVE LOVE LOVE the new design. I used Elegant Themes on my last one – good stuff :)

    “John’s identity was in being the beloved of Jesus”

    That makes me uncomfortable to read, to digest, to internalize… as uncomfortable as it was for me to finallly break out the gospel of John and read it (it took me years)… because it is all about God’s love for us… His radical, unabashed, unashamed love… it is so revealing, captivating, and unnerving all at once…

    • Thank you so much Jenny! They have tons of great ones. I finally decided on SimplePress.

      It definitely offended every idea I had of God initially. Thankfully he broke through all that mess!

  8. Anonymous says:

    awesome post !

    yipeeee ‘God is madly in love with me’

    thanks for sharing
    God bless you

  9. Tony!

    It is never, never, and never about us loving Him. It is always, and shall ever be, about Him loving us! Your post was spot-on, brother!

    It is far past the time when we, as The Bride, need to remember who loved who first.

    Thanks for this one, Tony. Good stuff, indeed!

  10. I’m not striving to be like John or Peter, but I can most definitely relate to Peter. I mean, sure, Peter was probably the most notably ADD afflicted disciple, and yes, he denied Jesus not once, but 3 times, but he’s still one of my favorite people in the Bible. And don’t forget about David, that guy was a mess at times, but he was still called Beloved.

    • I didn’t intent to bash Peter as much as learn from John. He wasn’t perfect though. On the flip side of things, we can learn to be careful we don’t fall into a mindset of pride and entitlement. John came to Jesus with his brother (Mark 10) and asked to sit and his right and left side in glory. A tad presumptuous I’d say.

      It’s great to learn from those that were a mess but it’s also key to learn to identify with those that got it right.

  11. This is officially my favorite post of yours, ever. that might change, because, brother, you just keep getting better.

    My Bible Quiz coach used to say she was a John – she just wanted to rest with Jesus and be loved by him. That disciple, she said, wouldn’t miss a thing Jesus was saying, and hang on every word. I want to be out doing, like Peter, all het up about my father’s business, but without the guidance that comes from the intimacy, I’d most likely be doing it wrong, and have done it wrong on multiple occasions.

    • Thanks Kristin, that means a lot. Next week I’ll probably be looking at 2 other people the way I did Peter & John. It’s a story everyone knows but I might have a different perspective than you’ve seen before.

  12. Absolutely true, Tony. Until we can receive His love and accept it, we’re doomed to strive and compete and work it all up. I want that deeper place of intimacy! Thanks–great post.

  13. Great post Tony.

    It is awesome that there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, but what’s crazy is that there is nothing I can do to make God love me less!

    He loves me because he loves me and nothing more, or less.

    “If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.”

  14. bill (cycleguy) says:

    Oh yeah Tony. I gotta believe it since I believe in grace and that means he loves me more than I deserve. good thoughts today my friend.

  15. Out of all of our many needs, the need to be loved is by far the biggest one we have. I really prefer the word the King James Version uses: Charity. Oh what a wonderful word that speaks to my heart.

    Good post Tony. Now, I’m looking at my iTunes app on my iPhone looking for the original “how he loves us” song.

  16. That’s one of those songs that wrecks me every time. The first time I heard it I had to pull the truck over to cry.

    • First time I heard it was at a friend’s house. He pulled out his guitar and played it and I was like “What song is that!!??” Then he pulled out the album and played the original and I was wrecked.

  17. Let me just say this – that will preach!

  18. A great word brother – you are on fire!


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