Hey, Father! Who is the disciple whom Jesus loved?

Who is the disciple whom Jesus loved?

– Debbie in Springfield

Jesus loved all of his disciples, even Judas, who betrayed him. In the Gospel of John, Jesus mentions at the last supper (John 13: 21– 30) that one of the apostles would betray him, and it seems that Judas was in a position to where Jesus could speak to him without the others listening. Since they were reclined at the table, there is only one place that Judas could have been. He must have been at Jesus’ left, for “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was lying at Jesus’ right, with his head at Jesus’ breast. So, Judas was at the place of honor at the left side of the master, who was always at the center of the table. The place on the left of the host is kept for the most intimate of friends. At the beginning of the evening, Jesus must have invited Judas to sit there beside Him in order to talk to Him specifically. Also, for the host to offer the guest a special morsel from the common bowl was a sign of a close and special friendship. According to Protestant bible scholar, William Barclay, the fact that it seemed to the others that nothing unusual had taken place, indicates Jesus may have always picked Judas out for special attention. 

There is a great tragedy here. Many times, Jesus must have appealed to Judas’ dark heart, but he was not moved. 

Now to get back to answer your question, the disciple whom Jesus loved is mentioned in 6 occasions in John (13:23-26, 19:25-27, 20:2-10, 21:7, 21:20-23, 21:24) and probably is the same as “the other disciple” (John 20:2-8) and “another disciple” (John 18:15-16). There are several different speculations as to who the beloved disciple was, including Lazarus, the rich young man (Mk 10:21), an unknown young disciple, or not a real person at all, but an ideal person of some sort. But the most common opinion is that John was the most beloved disciple.

We know that John was a humble young man at the time of Jesus and a companion of Peter. He was chosen to be at the important events of Jesus’ life, such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration, and the garden of Gethsemane. If he is the beloved disciple, then he played an important role in the upper room, at Calvary, and the empty tomb and in Galilee. Perhaps the greatest indicator that John was beloved by Jesus, is the fact that Jesus gave His mother to John at the foot of the cross.

Father D. Patrick Gibbons is pastor at St. Cecilia in Glen Carbon