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The phrase “the disciple Jesus loved” is unique to the Gospel of John. Among the four Gospels, only John uses this designation, creating a sense of intimacy and special relationship with Jesus. Early church tradition and historical evidence affirm that this phrase refers to John himself, one of the twelve apostles and the author of the Gospel of John. John’s humility and possibly the need for security amidst persecution likely influenced his decision to refer to himself in this manner rather than using his name directly.


1. John 13:23: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.” This occurred during the Last Supper. John, in a position of close fellowship, reclined next to Jesus, illustrating the deep bond and trust between them.

2. John 19:26: “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!” While on the cross, Jesus entrusted the care of His mother, Mary, to John. This significant act highlights John’s faithfulness and Jesus’ trust in him.

3. John 20:2: “So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, ‘They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.’” After discovering the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene ran to inform Peter and John. The use of “the disciple whom Jesus loved” underscores John’s pivotal role in the resurrection narrative.

4. John 21:7: “So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.” John was the first to recognize the risen Jesus on the shore, directing the disciples to a miraculous catch of fish, signifying his spiritual insight.

5. John 21:20: “Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said, ‘Master, who is the one who will betray you?’” After Jesus prophesied Peter’s martyrdom, Peter inquired about John’s future, again referring to him as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”


John’s portrayal as “the disciple Jesus loved” serves as a profound reminder of the personal and relational nature of Jesus’ love. Each believer is invited into a similar intimate relationship with Christ, characterized by trust, responsibility, and recognition of His presence.

John’s example teaches us several important lessons:
1. Humility: John’s reluctance to name himself suggests a humble heart, focusing on Jesus rather than personal recognition.
2. Faithfulness: John’s loyalty, even to the point of being at the cross, exemplifies steadfast faith in all circumstances.
3. Witness: John’s role in the key moments of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection reminds us of the importance of bearing witness to Christ in our lives.
4. Trust: Jesus’ trust in John to care for His mother signifies the responsibilities we have as believers to care for one another.

As Christians, we are called to emulate these qualities, striving to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Let us remember that each of us is loved by Jesus and called to live out that love in our daily lives. By doing so, we honor the example set by John and bring glory to God, fostering a community marked by love, humility, and unwavering faith. May we all strive to be known as disciples whom Jesus loves, reflecting His love to the world around us.

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