This morning, I read Luke 1 wherein the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus. Gabriel started that conversation — the most remarkable conversation Mary ever had — with these words:
"Greetings, you who are highly favored!"
The angel identified Mary as a recipient of favor, not an earner of it. He did not say, “Greetings, you who have your crap together.”
This reminds me of John’s preferred identifier. When he mentions himself in his gospel, the Apostle John uses the title “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John’s core identity was as an object of love. I mean object here in the grammatical sense, as in the recipient of action, the noun upon which someone else moves.
This may be what was happening between Peter and Jesus after the resurrection. At least part of it. When Jesus crouched on the lakeshore and asked Peter “do you love me,” he may have been seeking a glimpse into Peter’s understanding of the source of love. Peter who had defined himself by his own devotion (“Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will”), Peter who took initiative, Peter who understood the locus of control, Peter who was ready to lead, had to look the victim of his betrayal in the eye and see himself as love’s quarry.
Brennan Manning wrote, "Living in awareness of our belovedness is the axis around which the Christian life revolves."
The people who were closest to Jesus came to identify themselves not as leaders or apostles or missionaries or communicators. After spending every day with Jesus all those years, their deepest identity became their belovedness.
Jesus loves us. The Bible tells us so. We are blessed when we come to know it.