The Gospel of John is definitely my favorite of the four Gospels—filled with evidence and explanation of the deity of Jesus along with a history of Jesus’ ministry. One thing that has always made pause though is that John refers to himself as “the disciple Jesus loved.” None of the other three Gospels refer to John that way.
During a sleepless night last week, I had a revelation. Whether it’s what John meant or not is irrelevant. What’s relevant is how I can apply the revelation to my own life.
John refers to himself five times in his Gospel as “the disciple Jesus loved.”
We know that Jesus, Peter, James and John had a close relationship, because Scripture records that those 4 were together at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28; Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2). Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him where they were privileged to witness God the Father declare Jesus to be His son.
But maybe something else was going on that led John to refer to himself as the disciple Jesus loved. I believe it was a title John claimed.
Many Christian women (as do I) say “I am the daughter of the King.” It is a title we claim. It is a recognition that I am part of God’s family. I am the daughter of the King of the universe, now that God has adopted me (Ephesians 1:5). So is Juanita. So is Trudy.
Other Christians say: “I am a child of God.” That’s also a recognition of belonging to God. It’s a recognition of that person’s identity in his relationship with Christ. I am a child of God. So is Harold. So is Nancy. So are you, if you belong to Jesus.
Those titles are a recognition of our relationship with our Savior. They are a recognition of our identity to God. They are deeply personal but they are not exclusionary.
Clearly Jesus loved all 12 of His disciples—even Judas who betrayed Him. Prior to Jesus’ ascension, he told the other eleven
As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).
Jesus loved all of His disciples, just as He loves you and I. John surely knew that. But John took his relational love from Jesus personally. John gave himself a title and claimed it. John claimed he was the disciple that Jesus loved.
We who follow Jesus today are Jesus’ modern-day disciples. And Jesus loves us personally. We—like John—can claim that relational title for ourselves.
I am the disciple Jesus loved.
WHAT ABOUT YOU? In what ways do you see that you are the disciple Jesus loved? In what way do you still need to claim the title John gave himself?