In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. [Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (NIV)]
A friend once asked her mother which of her children was the favorite. I can’t imagine asking such a question or wanting to hear the answer. As to how I’d answer such a question—I can’t even pick my favorite color; I certainly couldn’t pick my favorite child. Is my favorite the child with the over-the-top personality who not only could sell ice cubes to Eskimos but convince them to double their order because of a possible shortage? Is my favorite the adventurous child with the wonderfully quirky sense of humor and a mind that puts Wikipedia to shame? Is my favorite the wise child whose faith, strength and patience rival that of Job? One challenged me, one grieved me and one worried me. Do I love them less because of that? Absolutely not! While I love them equally, because they have been blessed with different personalities and abilities, I don’t always treat them the same. I have one child who is robust espresso, another is uniquely spiced chai, and a third is calming chamomile tea. Like those beverages, each of my children is delectable and delightfully unique; I love all three of them, just each in their own special way!
I remember my father calling me “the apple of his eye” which made me feel precious and treasured. As an adult, I realize he never said that within earshot of my siblings and I have a sneaky suspicion he said much the same thing to my brother and sister in private. While I truly don’t have a favorite, I’d like to think that each of my children secretly harbors the belief that he or she is my favorite! Each, after all, is the “apple of my eye!”
Clearly, the Apostle John thought he was the apple of Jesus’ eye. In his gospel, John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” In the only other gospel written by one of the disciples, Matthew always refers to himself by name. I suspect the difference in how these men refer to themselves has far more to do with their writing style than with whether or not they felt loved. Granted, Jesus had his inner circle—John, Peter and James—but I don’t think that means He loved one disciple more than the next. Because each man was unique and had different gifts, they weren’t always treated the same but, without a doubt, each was loved and all were the “apple of his eye.”
Indeed, John was the apple of Jesus’ eye and loved by our Lord—but so were Matthew, doubtful Thomas, Simon the Zealot, prayerful Mary, busy Martha, the woman at the well and even the repentant thief on the cross. When we accepted Christ, God adopted us into His family and we all became the apple of His eye—each one of us special and unique—and each one of us His favored and much loved child. I’m His favorite me and you, dear reader, are His favorite you! We each are the disciple Jesus loves!
For God does not show favoritism. [Romans 2:11 (NIV)]
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. [Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)]