The Apostle That Jesus Loved

John 19:25-27but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

John the Apostle

Much of the following is based on traditional Church history. Throughout the book of John, the apostle John goes to great lengths to keep his name out of the book, most likely motivated by humility. When we read John 1:35-42 we discover two things about the apostle John. First, it is likely that he was a disciple of John the Baptist. So, he and the apostle Andrew were the first apostles. 

The apostle that Jesus loved is the apostle John (John 13:23). Church history tells us that John was probably the youngest apostle and He died as the oldest Apostle, perhaps in his 90s.

John the Mentor

Polycarp was the bishop for the church at Smyrna, located on the western side of ancient Greece, and Ignatius was the bishop for Antioch, located on the eastern side of ancient Greece. Both Polycarp and Ignatius were disciples of the apostle John. Their writings helped fuse the thoughts and teachings within the rapidly growing local churches.

John was the youngest apostle of Jesus, he lived the longest, and we have two of the most instrumental Early Church fathers that were taught by a person that not only witnessed the work of Jesus but was friends with Jesus. Therefore, the apostle John was a bridge between Christ’s earthly ministry and the Church’s founding and early establishment. 

John the Student

All of these observations are well established. But here’s what I am late in learning: the mother of Jesus lived with John. That’s what our Scripture for today tells us. I knew that, but I didn’t appreciate it.

Is it any wonder that the Gospel, according to John, is unique among the four Gospels. We have the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), and then we have the book of John.

How many times did John and Mary, the mother of Jesus, sit around their “kitchen” table and talk about Jesus? John would have heard the first-hand stories of Mary’s visitation from the Holy Spirit, the shepherds, and the Magi. Their flight to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempt to kill Jesus, and on and on. John had more access to the whole of Christ’s earthly life than any other apostle. 

John the Testifier

Now we know that men wrote God’s Word under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 14:25-262 Timothy 3:162 Peter 1:20-21). So, each book contains the living Word of God while maintaining the characteristics of the writer. With that understanding, look at the opening verse of each of the four Gospels.

Matthew 1:1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Luke 1:1, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us…”
John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John the Proclaimer

Christian theologians struggled for 300 years to understand the opening verses of the book of John [a]. From the powerful first verse of John’s book, the apostle John explodes with resounding declarations as to the deity of Jesus, the miraculousness of Jesus, the height and width, and depth of the immeasurableness of Jesus. John knew these things. The Holy Spirit was in him (1 Corinthians 3:16) and on him (Acts 19:6). 

It’s reasonable to assume that James, the brother of Jesus, who probably led the apostles’ work in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13, 19), no doubt had known and had spent time with John. And far above all, John was the apostle that Jesus loved (John 13:23).

John in the One

Peter, James, and John, the three, were the only witnesses of the raising of the Daughter of Jairus, the only witnesses of the Transfiguration, and the only witnesses of the Agony in Gethsemane. In fact, the apostle John was within the 12 (Matthew 10:2-4), within the 3 (Matthew 26:36–46), within the 2 (Luke 22:8), and within the one, for he was Christ Jesus’ best friend (John 13:23). Just like our best friends, Jesus knew John and John knew Jesus.

I’ve written these observations not to elevate John, but to help us grasp the majesty and deity of Jesus that John desires to communicate in his book. I think there has never been any mortal man better equipped to express to the world how marvelous and mighty is Jesus, our Savior, our God (John 20:28). So, we gain some of this understanding when we read what John wrote, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration: 

The Glory of Jesus

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)…”Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

When you need a boost to your life in Jesus, turn to the book of John. I don’t think it’s possible to read John’s book and not draw closer to Jesus, the Son in whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 3:17).

[a] The Mystery of the Trinity, Lecture 3, podcast, from 0 seconds – 50 seconds, R.C. Sproul

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

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