Written By Br. John
Who is the beloved disciple in the Gospel of John? Or more precisely who is “the disciple whom Jesus loved?” Thanks to John 21:24, in which this disciple is named as the author of the Gospel, one effort to answer this question could be to list all the unique characteristics of the Gospel of John. And the result would be impressive. The Gospel of John stands apart among the Gospels as the one which contains the most original and the most contemplative witness to the person of Jesus, his apostolic life and his works. From the Prologue to the signs, to the “I am” statements, to the uniqueness of the Last Supper account and discourses, to the Passion and Resurrection accounts, the eyewitness quality of the narrative is apparent. “He who saw it has borne witness,” says John 19:35 and this witness is the beloved disciple as John 21:24 confirms. The beloved disciple, who narrates this Gospel, states himself “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (Jn 20:30) This is what drives the heart of the beloved disciple to communicate to us this Gospel account; that we may know and believe in the person of Jesus and so receive the life He gives us.
Fair enough, you might say, but what about the whole calling himself the disciple whom Jesus loved business? What does it mean really? The different places in which the beloved disciple is mentioned (this title is used five times starting at the Last Supper) show that he is a disciple who received in a special way the intimate desires of the heart of Jesus and who wishes to reveal this discovery to each of us. The Heart of Jesus is everything for him. And he discovers that the Heart of Jesus is completely given to the Father and to us. If John, son of Zebedee, brother of James, friend of Peter, disciple of John the Baptist, dares to speak of himself in his own Gospel as the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” it is in view of inviting each of us to desire to be that disciple, to receive His words and follow Jesus in the same way. And the key to starting upon this path is found in the title itself; “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” To become this disciple is to encounter Jesus and discover in this encounter how much he is loved by Jesus. “As the Father has loved me so I have loved you.”( Jn 15:9) “In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us.” (1 Jn 4:10) “It was not you who chose me but I who chose you.” (Jn 15:16) Let this love of Jesus become the love of your life, prize it above all other loves, let it envelop all that you have. In so doing you will discover your own deepest identity as John did; your deepest identity is that of a disciple, a disciple whom he invites to be his friend, a disciple whom He loves.