25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
26 When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!
27 Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. Jn. 19:25-27
Let us begin by setting the background to this story. What does the Bible mean by “the disciple… whom he loved”? Was Jesus a respecter of persons? Did He favor some in His team of apostles above others the way we favor men above others?
The answer is no. Otherwise, we would not bother believing the Bible.
When the Bible talks of the disciple whom Jesus loved, it means this was a disciple who, in one way or another, pleased the Lord Jesus Christ. A person who pleases the Lord is one who does the Lord’s will. Now, we all know that the disciples of Jesus were far from perfect men. So, how did this disciple come to endear himself to the Lord Jesus?
The Bible tells us exactly how:
“20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?… 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.” Jn. 21:20-24
The Bible tells us that this disciple was he who leaned on Jesus’ breast at supper. This indicates that this disciple stayed closer to Jesus than anyone else. He wanted to know what was in Jesus’ heart. He was so close to Jesus that, when Peter needed to know who Jesus was referring to when He said He would be betrayed by one of them, he knew he had to ask it through this disciple. In John 13:23-26, the Bible recounts this incident in this manner:
“23 Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.”
This disciple pleased the Lord Jesus by being close to Him. He knew every heartbeat of Jesus. If Jesus had a secret He wanted to divulge, this disciple it was who would first know of it. He was Jesus’ right-hand man.
Is it not wonderful to be so close to the Lord? Is it not wonderful to be able to lean on Jesus’ breast? Jesus loves those who love Him and, clearly, this disciple loved the Lord. If the Bible can take the time to recount three times in one gospel that this was a disciple that Jesus loved, then this man also loved Jesus.
John 21:24 also tells us who this disciple was. It was John. The Apostle John it was who wrote the Gospel of John.
When you read the epistles of John, you realize how really close to the Lord’s heart John was. His epistles are filled with exhortations of love. And the Bible tells that God is love. Moreover, it also tells us that of all the Godly qualities that will endure – faith, hope and love – love is the greatest of them all.
[Below: The Apostle Paul said of his disciple, Timothy: “But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel.” (Phil. 2:22)]