Who did, who does Jesus love most? There were so many people in His life here on earth, is it possible that He loved one above the other? We know that Jesus is love and He loves the whole world, but does one person stand out above the rest? The answer to this simple question could open your eyes to see things a little differently, and in fact, could change the way you live your life. And the answer may not be who you think.
The Bible does mention a few people specifically that Jesus loved. John 11 mentions that Mary and Martha said Lazarus was the one that He loved (v3). Verse five states it outright that Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Later on, it’s stated that some Jews recognized that Jesus loved Lazarus because He was crying (v36). But there’s nothing else mentioned about Jesus loving these three.
John 13:1 Says, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Jesus loved his disciples and loved them until the end. But again, there’s not much else mentioned about Him loving the disciples.
There is one specific disciple though that has gotten labeled as the one Jesus loved. That would be the Apostle John. John 13:23 says, “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This wording of “whom Jesus loved,” “the disciple Jesus loved” is used repeatedly throughout the Gospel of John. However, it doesn’t say “whom Jesus loved most.” Though John is referred to today as the beloved disciple, he’s not called the most beloved disciple, and that’s because the Bible never says that.
What about Mary, the mother of Jesus? Perhaps Jesus loved her more than anyone. After all, any good Jewish boy would love His mother. John 19:26-27 says, “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” Jesus made sure his mother was taken care of after He was gone, but it doesn’t say that He loved her more than anyone else.
So who does that leave? Peter? Judas? Joseph? Paul? The Bible never mentions by name, saying that Jesus loved them. So maybe the answer is found in the verse that we’ve all learned in Sunday School – John 3:16?
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. – John 3:16-17
That sounds pretty good, right? Jesus laid down his life, became the perfect spotless sacrifice for all humanity. That screams love, doesn’t it? The fact that Jesus would die for all mankind, that has to be the answer. Jesus Himself commanded us to love our enemies (Luke 6:27); He went further than just saying it, just giving it as a commandment. He lived it out. So the answer clearly is: The one that Jesus loved the most was all humankind.
If that was the right answer, it could easily shape our outlook on life. We should give ourselves to others – go into all the world and preach the Gospel because of our love for others. We should give of ourself here and there, do this and that, because Jesus loved humanity the most, and we should be like Jesus – so give of ourself to the world to reach them. The actual answer creates a greater understanding in us – for every area of life.
So, the answer is…
The one that Jesus loved more than anyone else was God the Father. And so should we.
John 14:31 says, “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.” Jesus loved the Father more than anyone else – to the point that He would not allow anyone to stop Him from doing the Father’s will, not even Himself. He didn’t allow Peter to stop Him from doing the Father’s will (remember, “Get behind me Satan.”) He didn’t allow the religious leaders to stop Him. He didn’t allow any other human to stop Him. He didn’t allow the devil to stop Him (He was tempted just like you and I). He didn’t allow His own desires to stop Him. That’s why He went to the Garden before He went to the cross.
Jesus gave us the great commandment in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
This commandment wasn’t just for us. He lived by it too. God was put first in His life in every area – even above the people of the world that He would die for. We have to understand this so that we can live the life that God wants us to. Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, but He didn’t allow Lazarus’ death or Mary and Martha’s squabbling to get Him off of what God had called Him to do. God was first.
He loved the disciples, but when He was arrested, they all abandoned Him. If He had loved them above God, He would have been alone and not accomplished what God sent Him to the Earth to do.
He loved John, but John didn’t have the ability to empower Him to do all that He needed to do on the Earth. John couldn’t give Him the anointing. The power to heal, works signs, miracles, and wonders, and forgive sin didn’t come from John. If Jesus would have loved John the most, His priorities would have been out of line and it would have messed everything up.
He loved Mary, His mother, but just because they were related by blood, that didn’t mean He would allow her to do things that went against His Father’s will or pull Him away from the work He knew needed to be accomplished. Remember Him asking, “Who is my mother and my brothers?(Matthew 12:48)”
He loved the world, but He didn’t allow the world to pull Him away from doing what He was called to do. Remember after He had risen from the dead and the disciples asked Him if He was now going to establish the Kingdom of Israel (Acts 1)? He didn’t jump on their bandwagon and start an uprising against the Roman Empire. He was called by His Father to accomplish a specific task and He didn’t allow anyone, even His own disciples, to pull Him away from that.
Today we face different struggles that may seem to be found nowhere in the Bible. But at their core, the same principles can be applied. We may have people pulling us to do this and that, in the name of the church, in the name of helping others, in the name of Jesus – and it may be good, thoughtful things. But is it what God wants us to do?
Are we staying somewhere or doing something because we love people so much we want to see them grow? But has God told us to stay there? Where is our love for the Father? We can have good, we’ll-meaning people – Christians – wanting us to do something that may seem good, but is it what the Father wants us to do?
Don’t get pulled out by emotions. The devil (and people) will pull at your heart strings to get you to do something that God is nowhere near and and things He has called you to be near either. We must make a decision – who do we love more? Our Father in Heaven, or anyone else?
That answer will determine a great amount of success and failure, pain and joy, ease and hardship, in your life. This doesn’t mean that we don’t love people and do things for people. We just love God more and when there’s anything that comes contrary to God, we choose God every time.
Stay with the Word of God and the Spirit of God.