The people that Scriptures say Jesus loved while He lived among us make an interesting study. There may be no eternal significance to the roster, but if Jesus loved them, their stories might shed some additional personal light on whom He would love if He were among us now. That God so loved the world (everyone) that He sent His Son to die for us is without question, but it is interesting to put names, characteristics, and circumstances of real people who lived while Jesus was here and are said to have been loved by Him out there for our guidance and edification. It might furnish a few up- close and personal guideposts for us even now.
Jesus loved little children. “Let the little children come unto me and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven, and He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” Matt. 19: 14,15 And how He loved them!
Then there was the rich young ruler who came up to Jesus glowing with enthusiasm that he had kept all the commandments from his youth up, kneeling at His feet, “And Jesus looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack yet. Go your way. Sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, take up the cross and follow me.’” But the young man was sad at this and went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. Mark 10:21 But the Book says Jesus loved him and saw great potential in him. He was humble and enthusiastic, but just not quite strong enough to change his lifestyle.
Then there is the story of the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at the well. He asked for a drink of water, but she reminded Him that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. But Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks for a drink of water, you would have asked, and He would have given you living Water.” He broke every barrier down because His love included all humanity. She took the news back to her people with joyful enthusiasm.
Listed among the folks that Jesus loved are Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. He often ate with them. In fact, Martha got put out once when Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet instead of helping with serving the meal, but Jesus said Mary had chosen “the better part.” When Lazarus became ill, they sent for Jesus. But Lazarus died before He got there. Scripture says when Jesus arrived at the tomb, He wept even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead. They were strong and faithful, and Jesus loved them. John 11:5
John was called “the apostle whom Jesus loved.” He may have been a quiet disciple, but he was devoted to Jesus. After a long life of service, He was exiled to the Island of Patmos in the service of King Jesus. Rev. 1:9, 10
Mary Magdalene was a devoted follower of our Lord: last at the cross and first at the tomb. Jesus had cast seven devils from her. When she returned to the tomb, there was a person standing there whom she thought was the gardener. She asked where they had laid the body of her Lord. It was the Risen Savior. He said, “Mary”, and she fell to her knees crying, “Rabboni”. That must be one of the tenderest moments in all of time. She loved deeply, purely and with her whole being. Love begets love. Among the people He loved on earth, surely Mary Magdalene has a high place. Luke 7:36-48
Maybe we could draw some conclusions from these examples. They came from every rank and file, young, old and in between, and Scripture says Jesus loved them right where He found them. They give us a beacon of hope, strong and sure, that by the grace of Almighty God we too can be counted worthy of His love.