In John’s gospel, John refers to himself as the ‘one that Jesus loved.’ He was also one of the Zebedee boys–the ‘Sons of Thunder’ whose mother asked that they sit on Jesus right and left side when he comes into his kingdom. Far from being outright rebuked for their power grab, Jesus wanted to make sure that they had counted the cost. Robert Crosby begins The One That Jesus Loves by reflecting on John and James’ mother’s ‘outrageous request.’ But his purpose is to encourage us to press into our relationship with Christ, always reaching for more intimacy.
So in forty pithy chapters, Crosby explores the rings of relationship which form around Jesus. The crowds are curious. The five thousand are a needy bunch who come because they are fed. The seventy are those whom Christ commissions as co-workers. The twelve shared life with Jesus for three years, the three celebrated an suffered with Jesus (on the mount of Transfiguration and the garden of Gethsemane. Finally the one laid his head on Jesus breast on the last supper, and was the only one to stick with him through the crucifixion and the one that records Jesus words when he calls us friends.
This is a devotional book, and not a commentary and so lacks some exegetical precision. Crosby uses the social circles of Jesus evocatively to draw us into deeper relationship with Him. Certainly these aren’t the only circles around Jesus. Crosby could have included ‘the four thousand,’ the more than 500 brothers he appeared to after his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6), the 120 believers who were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 1:15), the women who accompanied and supported the Twelve in Jesus ministry and mission (Luke 8:1-3), or the four (Peter, James, and John plus Andrew) who ask him about the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age, etc. I would be careful in drawing the lines of these circles too strongly. This was a semi-permeable web of relationships and people around Jesus were always invited to something more. As Crosby notes, even the twelve had a Judas and ‘in the twelve we are doing one of two things: we are following or falling back’ (179).
I applaud this book for focusing on cultivating deeper intimacy with Jesus. Crosby will make you want to press in, to be closer to Christ and whatever ring you find yourself in, you will hear the voice of Jesus inviting you to more. The short chapters make it ideal for personal devotional reading, but he does include conversation starters at the back of the book for use with small groups or in one-on-one discipleship. I give this book three stars: ★★★
Notice of material connection I recieved this book for the purposes of review. I was not asked to write a positive review but an honest one.