Icon of the Beloved Disciple from Mt. Angel Abbey – the inscription reads “My heart and my flesh cry out: O God, O living God!”
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.
John’s gospel shines with both power and intimacy.
Jesus crackles with energy, turning water into wine, driving the moneychangers from the Temple, confounding learned and pious Nicodemus, speaking with a foreign woman, and healing with a word (whether the beggar by the pool wants it or not). And that’s only in the first five chapters of the story.
Jesus’ power radiates as clearly as his love and concern for people.
The man born blind, healed by Jesus’ touch and by a compress of mud (how like God’s own touch, forming mud and clay into the first human), is driven out of the synagogue by the religious leaders. But the story doesn’t end there, and John provides the key to understanding it fully.
“Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he had found him …” (John 9:35).
Jesus the power of God, whom John has come to understand is the same Word who was with God in the beginning, seeks out those who are hurting in order to effect their healing. He seeks out those who are estranged in order to effect their reconciliation.
As Reynolds Price writes in Incarnation: Contemporary Writers on the New Testament, the Gospel of John “says in the clearest voice we have the sentence that mankind craves from stories — The Maker of all things loves and wants me.”
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, writes from a position of intimate knowledge. It is he who reclines next to Jesus at the Last Supper.
From within that close embrace, John sees both the betrayal Jesus suffers and the love that he demonstrates in washing the disciples’ feet and sending them out to serve one another.
Because today’s Feast of St. John falls on a Friday, in Morning Prayer we have the added poignancy of the Prayer for Mission that captures this intimate sending:
Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen. (BCP 101)
Daily His Delight
Jesus, the Word of God, was with God at creation and was “daily his delight.” At the Incarnation, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).
John, the Beloved Disciple, who was close to Jesus’ heart and “daily his delight,” wrote his Gospel “so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
And you? The disciple whom Jesus loves?
You who have come within the reach of Jesus’ saving embrace and are “daily his delight,” how will you reach forth your hands in love to bring those who do not know Jesus into the knowledge and love of him?