The Chosen One: Who Is The Disciple That Jesus Loved?

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We are often told to start with the Book of John when reading or studying the Bible. This gospel ushers Jesus Christ into our consciousness, revealing his character and mission on earth.

But John’s Gospel has also sparked debate and admiration among New Testament scholars for its unique perspective on Jesus and his teachings. The apostle John’s sacred text is peppered with references to “the disciple Jesus loved.” John’s fascinating account invites us to come closer as we share the agony and glory of Christ’s life.

Who Was The Disciple That Jesus Loved?

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter saw that it was the Lord, he wrapped his outer garment around him—for he had taken it off and jumped into the water.

— John 21:7

The New Testament is home to a beloved disciple who held an incomparable place in Jesus’ heart. This enigmatic individual, whom many call the Beloved Disciple, had a unique role among Jesus’ devoted followers[1], and their relationship was one of ultimate closeness, filled with intimacy.

Although his identity remains a mystery, early Christian tradition tells us about his life, family background, role within the apostles, and the profound bond this disciple shared with Jesus.

John grew up in Bethsaida, Galilee, a fishing village, in the 1st century AD. He belonged to a caring family with his father, Zebedee, and brother James (also known as James the Greater). Like his father and brother, John learned the ropes of the fishing trade.

Despite being raised in an atmosphere of simplicity, he cherished every moment spent with his family, strengthening bonds destined to last forever. Zebedee, John’s father, earned a living as a fisherman, and they operated their fishing enterprise together. John’s mother, as mentioned in the Bible, is named Salome.

Role Among The Apostles

John was counted among the esteemed inner circle of apostles, alongside Peter and James. He was known by the epithet “sons of thunder,” which hinted at his vibrant character and nature. As his relationship with Jesus deepened, John’s influence steadily grew among his fellow apostles.

Close Relationship With Jesus

The Gospels portray the unique connection between John and Jesus. The Bible often refers to John calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” on multiple occasions. Moreover, John witnessed the pivotal events in Jesus’ life, including the Transfiguration, the miraculous raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the heart-wrenching agony at the Garden of Gethsemane suffered by Jesus Christ.

The apostle John was also among those around Jesus at the famous Last Supper. He reclined next to Jesus and leaned on his chest. This proximity signifies the deep affection and trust that existed between them. In the Gospel of John, he is also the only apostle mentioned to have stood by the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus, accompanied by Jesus’ mother, Mary.

20 Surprising Things About The Disciple That Jesus Loved

1. John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, bore a name that held deep significance.

It symbolizes God’s grace and the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. His close bond with Jesus, profound comprehension of his teachings, and firsthand witnessing of significant events showcased the immense importance of his role. As a prominent figure within the early Christian church, John played a pivotal role in its establishment and growth, and his writings possess profound theological value.

2. He was not only a close disciple but also a cousin of Jesus.

This familial connection contributed to the depth of their relationship and John’s unique insights into Jesus’ life and ministry. John witnessed many important events in the life of Jesus, together with Mary, his mother, and Mary Magdalene. He also saw the empty tomb of Jesus.

3. John was initially a disciple of John the Baptist.

His prior discipleship under John the Baptist showcased his faith and spiritual growth journey. This transition highlights John’s openness to seeking truth and willingness to follow the path that led him to Jesus and his teachings.

4. He was the youngest among the disciples.

John outlived them all, becoming the longest-lived apostle and witnessing the spread of Christianity for an extended time. This longevity allowed John to provide a valuable perspective on the early development and growth of the Christian movement.

5. John displayed moments of zeal and impulsiveness.

He desired to call down fire from heaven, reflecting his strong convictions and passion for his beliefs. But Jesus rebuked him for this notion. While these characteristics may have caused occasional challenges, they also showed John’s sincere dedication to his faith.

6. John was called one of the “sons of thunder.”

Along with his brother James, the term possibly indicated their dynamic and bold personalities. This characterization suggests that John possessed a vibrant and energetic nature, which could have contributed to his active involvement in Jesus’ ministry.

7. John played a notable role in the miraculous catch of 153 fish.

The significant event recorded in the Gospel of John emphasized his connection to Jesus and the divine nature of their work. This event showcased John’s participation in the extraordinary acts performed by Jesus and highlighted the symbolic significance of the number 153 in the context of the early Christian community.

8. John could also perform miracles of healing.

His authority revealed spiritual authority and the power bestowed upon him. This ability and his close association with Jesus demonstrated John’s role as a vessel for divine strength and his commitment to serving others.

9. John enjoyed a close and intimate relationship with Jesus.

Being recognized as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” highlights the depth of their bond. This particular distinction speaks to the unique connection and affection between John and Jesus, portraying their relationship as one characterized by love and mutual understanding.

10. Jesus entrusted John with the care of his mother, Mary.

Jesus demonstrated the level of trust and responsibility placed on John. This act happened before Jesus’ crucifixion and death. It emphasized John’s reliability, devotion, and willingness to fulfill Jesus’ wishes even in challenging circumstances.

11. John harbored aspirations for a place on Jesus’ heavenly throne.

This posture indicated his desire for prominence and status within the divine hierarchy. This ambition showcases John’s human ambition and longing for a significant role in the kingdom of God.

12. Despite attempts to harm him, John miraculously survived being boiled in oil.

This occasion underscored his divine protection and resilience. This event is also often attributed to the intervention of God, highlighting John’s unique place in the divine plan and his unwavering commitment to his faith.

13. John is said to have survived after ingesting poison.

This event further emphasized his miraculous preservation and the divine favor bestowed upon him. This account further reinforces that John was divinely protected and chosen for a unique purpose.

14. John received special instructions and revelations.

The visions described in the Book of Revelation granted him unique insights into the future. These revelations demonstrated John’s role as a prophet and illuminated eschatological matters, providing guidance and encouragement to early Christians.

15. John imparted invaluable teachings and insights into the life and message of Jesus.

Through his Gospel, Epistles, and Book of Revelation, he revealed Christ’s divine nature and the future of the Christian faith. These writings became foundational texts for the emerging Christian community, extending John’s influence beyond his interactions with Jesus.

16. John concealed his name in his gospel.

He referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” highlighting his humility and focus on Jesus rather than personal recognition. By emphasizing his love and devotion to Jesus, John humbly redirects attention to the central figure of his gospel and reinforces the importance of Christ’s teachings and message.

17. John authored five books in the New Testament.

John wrote the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John, and the book of Revelation, leaving a lasting literary legacy. His writings contain profound theological insights, spiritual guidance, and prophetic visions that continue to shape Christian thought and understanding.

18. John was blessed with the privilege of encountering the risen Christ.

Following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, he met Jesus, reaffirming his faith and providing irrefutable evidence of the resurrection. This extraordinary experience solidified John’s unwavering belief in the divinity of Jesus. It served as an unyielding source of strength and conviction in his role as a leader and teacher among the early Christians.

19. John experienced visions and revelations.

These visualizations allowed him to witness glimpses of heaven and earth in the last days and beyond, granting him profound insights into eschatological matters. The book of Revelation, attributed to John, provides a vivid depiction of apocalyptic events, the final judgment, and the ultimate victory of God, offering hope and encouragement to believers facing persecution and adversity.

20. John is the only apostle who died of natural causes.

This unique situation further distinguished his fate from the martyrdom many of his fellow disciples suffered. This longevity allowed John to contribute significantly to the early Christian movement, providing stability, guidance, and theological insights based on his personal experiences and intimate knowledge of Jesus.

st. john gospel

Why Did John Call Himself “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved”?

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 13:23

This self-designation has sparked numerous interpretations and discussions. We will explore the reasons behind John’s choice of words and delve into the significance of this title.

1. Personal Humility, Not Egotism

John’s humble reference to himself as the “disciple Jesus loved” may initially appear pompous and self-aggrandizing. A closer inspection, however, reveals that his purpose was far from that.

Throughout the Gospel, it becomes evident that John deliberately circumvented mentioning his name; instead, he discreetly referred to himself. His modesty and conscientiousness in not paying attention to him are genuinely endearing. This deliberate omission of his name reveals a profound humility, as he sought to emphasize the love and grace that Jesus bestowed upon all his disciples.

2. An Expression Of Intimacy

John’s identification as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” can also be seen as an expression of his deep personal relationship with Jesus. As John recalls walking alongside Jesus, he reminisces on the immense privilege of being part of the exclusive inner circle along with Peter and James.

From witnessing transformative events such as the Transfiguration to feeling swept up in emotion at the raising of Jairus’ daughter, John reveres these memories as a testament to their loving relationship. More than just friends, they shared a bond that divine occurrences forever immortalized, erasing any doubt about the unconditional love that Jesus represented.

3. A Theological Emphasis On Love

John’s Gospel places significant emphasis on the concept of love. John repeatedly highlights Jesus’ love for humanity and emphasizes the commandment to love one another.

John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” emphasizing its significance in shedding light on Jesus’ core message: love. His sobering choice of words reminds us of the breathtakingly great force of love and its underappreciated importance in our interactions with others.

4. An Invitation To The Readers

By his rhetorical phrase, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” John offers a meaningful invitation to all readers of the Gospel: Come see yourself as an inheritor of Jesus’ incredible love! He is not imparting any sense of superiority here but beckoning each believer to welcome and bask in Jesus’ limitless affection for us. His inclusive language encourages a connection with him, imploring his followers to embrace this relationship and feel cherished by their Lord!

5. A Literary Device

Some scholars propose that John’s self-reference as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” primarily serves as a literary device, emphasizing the Gospel’s overarching themes and theological messages.

By adopting this specific phraseology, the author employs a narrative tool to convey the significance of divine love, the intimacy of the disciple-Jesus relationship, and the transformative power of encountering Jesus in one’s life.

How Do We Become Beloved Disciples Ourselves?

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

— John 8:31-32

The timeless quest for authentic spiritual ascension knows few paths more rooted in nobility and personal transformation than becoming a beloved disciple.

We, too, can give testimony on behalf of the Lord by standing beneath his cross, bearing witness that Jesus died on the cross, and running with purpose toward his living existence. As John’s gospel reveals to us, we must be willing to step out in faith as beloved disciples, fervently sharing our testimonies until Christ comes again.

1. Cultivate Humility

At the heart of being a beloved disciple lies humility—the courage to accept our inner strengths and weaknesses. Humility allows us to move beyond the grip of our egotistical desires and embrace the guidance that comes directly from a spiritual source.

Practicing humility means listening to others, absorbing helpful criticism, and viewing life with eternal appreciation.

2. Develop A Teachable Spirit

The glorious follower, like the disciple John, is described as holding a teachable spirit—an enthusiasm to learn, flourish, and broaden their thoughts of life. It entails adhering to a state of mind that realizes knowledge and shrewdness are never stagnant but continuously shifting.

Possessing a teachable spirit requires nourishing one’s curiosity, exploring varying outlooks, and staying open to new concepts and activities. We create space for transformative learning and personal development by remaining receptive and humble.

3. Nurture Compassion And Love

The path to becoming a beloved disciple begins with love and compassion. Fostering deep empathy for others and genuinely wishing to relieve their distress can be a formidable weapon in our arsenal. Showing heartfelt sympathy and understanding for those around us allows us to appreciate how they genuinely feel and creates an atmosphere of acceptance and belonging.

Additionally, by demonstrating acts of kindness, we open a gateway to growth opportunities within ourselves, and the people we hold dear are essential to healthy, meaningful relationships.

4. Embrace Service And Selflessness

A beloved disciple serves others selflessly, recognizing the inherent interconnectedness of all beings. A service is an act of love—helping those in need and joining forces to combat social, environmental, and humanitarian challenges. By embracing service, we use our gifts and resources to promote global well-being, benefiting ourselves and others.

Transformative change can be made through little acts of selflessness infused with divine purpose. Service allows us to discover a sense of belonging in our interconnected world while having the power to change the lives of many.

If you want to become a beloved disciple, know that the key is unlocking a profound spiritual path. Through prayer, meditation, and contemplation, we can open our hearts and souls to connect with our inner spirit and embark on an unforgettable journey of growth and connection.

Moreover, engaging in rituals and ceremonies that speak to our beliefs can give us a sense of meaning and purpose, allowing us to grow through divine guidance as beloved disciples.

Regularly connecting with the Holy Spirit allows us to deepen our understanding, receive guidance, and nurture a profound sense of inner peace and clarity. A dedicated spiritual practice forms the foundation for our journey toward becoming beloved disciples.

first letter of apostle john open bible

Conclusion

John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, is remembered throughout the ages for his distinguished place in the New Testament. His special connection with our Lord made him especially significant among the Twelve Apostles, and his later contributions to Christianity are highly praised even today.

The bond that John formed with Christ showcases the unfathomable love, faith, and understanding shared between them—a profound reminder to believers everywhere of the extent to which we go when we passionately abide by God’s will.

Though his identity might remain veiled in some aspects, his impact on the Christian faith remains profound, reminding us of the transformative power of a close relationship with Jesus Christ.

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