The “Beloved Disciple” Is Each of Us
The beloved disciple looked down into the grave, he saw the folded grave cloths, and he believed. Mary Magdalene heard her name, recognized the voice of Jesus, and she believed. Jesus appeared that night to the disciples, and they were overjoyed. Thomas touched the wounds on Jesus’ hands and side, and he believed.
That beloved disciple seems rather pesky at times. How is he—probably he—always in the right place at the right time? How can one disciple be so favored over all the others? It is not fair!
For the first several decades of my life, I mistakenly believed that men were more favored by Jesus. After all, as I was frequently reminded, only men were chosen as the twelve. There was an inner circle, and then all the rest of us who could only aspire to being camp followers. It seemed Jesus had formed yet another boys-only club around him— no different from the rest of the world. I would always be on the outside looking in; being content to receive fragments of left-over faith after the men had digested it.
Then I discovered the beloved disciple. This person is elusive: reclining on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23); at the cross (18:15-16); recognizing Jesus on the shore (21:7); the source of information for the Gospel (21:20-24). Who would not want to be this disciple? I researched the possibilities of who this person could be— which resulted in a lot of theories and interesting reading—but no convincing identity.
Then it occurred to me, this disciple could be any one of us! The identity of this person is stubbornly disguised for a reason. Therefore, any one of us can identify with the place of the beloved disciple. This extra disciple can be any believer —I personally do not think one of the twelve would be tolerated as “beloved” above the rest (Matt 20:20-28). It could be you or me, female or male, Jewish or gentile, poor, influential, or whoever finds herself or himself otherwise excluded.
That beloved disciple is there for all of us. We do not have to be male, Jewish, Galilean fishermen—one a traitor—to be in the inner circle.