The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.

John 13:23-25
23 “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”.   24 Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. 25 Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?”

This one leaning on Jesus’ breast was John, of course, the youngest of the disciples!  Did you ever notice that the only place in the entire Bible where you find the phrase, “The disciple whom Jesus loved,” is IN the Gospel of John?  It’s true!  Do a word search sometime and you’ll see: He says it FIVE TIMES.  

The Significance Of Numbers.

Five, in case you didn’t know, is the number of grace.  John’s name just “happens” to means “Grace.” 😍  Is this mere chance or coincidence?  No way!  The Holy Spirit, our Master Storyteller, is at it again, drawing beautiful pictures of Jesus for us.

Each of the five times John mentions this phrase reveals something wonderful about what is in store for those who, like him, learn to lean on Jesus’ love FOR US as opposed to our own efforts to show love FOR HIM.

If you’re wondering why we say “Five is the number of Grace,” you may follow the link below the read more about the meaning of numbers in the Bible.  It proves that not one word in Holy Write is arbitrary, just to make the book thicker. Amazing!:

Secrets In Bible Numbers Part 1.

1) True Intimacy.
John was very conscious of Jesus’ love FOR him, EMPHASIS ON JESUS.  This is 180° opposite of Peter, who maintained that HE loved Jesus, EMPHASIS ON HIMSELF.  That’s why John wrote that phrase in his Gospel. He was continually practicing Jesus’ love for him by calling himself, “The disciple whom Jesus loved.”  You and I can say the same of ourselves and also be accurate!

The opening scripture is the first mention of John’s declarations.  It depicts an intimacy with Jesus, someone who is comfortable in His presence.   Peter, conversely, typifies believers who focus on THEIR love FOR Jesus.  They, like Peter, feel a distance from Him and also do not enjoy a close relationship with Him.

Peter’s Relationship.

The first mention of this phrase occurs during the last supper.  Peter, who must have reclined next to John, motioned to him.  He wanted to find out of whom Jesus had spoken when He said, “One of you shall betray me.”  Though one of Jesus’ inner circle, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to ask Jesus directly, implying a distance.  He did not have the same close, warm, and intimate relationship that John did.


Peter typifies Christians who also do not share a warm, familial relationship with Jesus, unlike the child pictured above.  Many in the Church today are just like Peter.  There is no warmth, no familial vibe; a perceived distance from the Master.

Notice, that distance is not an actual fact but their faulty perception. As a byproduct, they are much more focused on THEIR LOVE for Jesus.  They somehow feel they have to prove their love for Him and merit His attention. They don’t realize He is already head over heels in love with them. ♥️ 


Holy Spirit Pictures.

Why does the Holy Spirit use Peter, in particular, as an example?  He is drawing pictures for us again.  His name means, “Rock.”  He’s a picture of the Law, which represents religious or law-centric believers. They are focused on their performance rather than on God’s Grace.

What else does an intimacy with Jesus and a consciousness of His love FOR us yield? Let’s study the second occurrence of the phrase, “The disciple whom Jesus loved.”

#2) True Servants.

The second mention of this phrase is found in John 19, verse 26:
26 “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, “Woman, behold thy son!”

As Jesus hung on that cross, where do you find John? At His feet!  Far from being afraid of any consequences of following Him, they are drawn to Him. Because he had learned the secret of leaning on Jesus’ love, HE WAS THE ONLY DISCIPLE AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, ready to serve Jesus in His darkest hour.  You see, when you know how loved of the Lord you are, that makes you the most fit for ministry. You are more aware of supply than demand.
Stark Contrast.
In stark contrast, Peter, who boasted of HIS unswerving, undying, I’ll-never-leave-you-or-forsake-you love for the Lord, he not only denied knowing Jesus 3 times before the cock crowed…..WITH CURSING AND SWEARING! 😞 
And where was Peter as Jesus hung on that cruel cross, suffering the most horrific death of all time?  Was he ready to serve Jesus in the hour of His greatest need?  Nope.  He was off in some dark corner, beating himself up, crying his eyes out, thoroughly ashamed of himself.  He may have believed himself to be forever lost.
Great Honor.

Jesus knew that John leaned on Him.  That is why He greatly honored him by delegating to him the care of His mother, Mary.  It was precisely because young John leaned on Jesus’ breast that evening of the last supper that he was the only one besides Jesus who knew the identity of the betrayer.  Peter, who was not as intimate with Jesus, had to ask John who it was.


Love Under The New Covenant.

See Church? It’s not about you and YOUR LOVE for Jesus: It’s about Jesus and HIS LOVE FOR YOU!

Under the Old Covenant God said, “You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  It was the greatest commandment OF THE LAW.  Well guess  what?  WE CAN’T LOVE GOD LIKE THAT.  Try as we might, we fail, MISERABLY!

What is love under the New Covenant? According to 1 John 4:19, “We love BECAUSE He first loved us!”  It’s a response to His love FOR us.

3) Filled With Hope And Strength.
The third mention of this phrase was on the morning when Jesus rose from the dead.
John 20:1-5.
“Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.”  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in.”
Full of love FOR the Lord because of Jesus’ love FOR him, John was filled with hope and strength.  He outran our impetuous friend, Peter, and reached the tomb first, though he did not go in.  Why?  Because he saw all he needed to see:  That the One Who loved Him and Whom he loved so much was ALIVE!  He had risen as He had said He would.
Peter, however, needed proof.  He was very perplexed by the whole scene.  He rushed in and saw the grave clothes lying in the empty tomb in their place.  He did not yet understand the scripture that says Jesus would rise from the dead.

John was eager to see Jesus.  Again in stark contrast, Peter, understandably, was a “bit” more hesitant.  More like terrified and ashamed.  After all, he denied Him three times, with cursing and swearing.  Jesus, however, would soon come to Peter privately and restore him.  At this point in time, however, that meeting had not happened.

Jesus Restores Peter Privately.

Amazingly, the actual event of his restoration isn’t recorded for us. Though the Holy Spirit has chosen to hide it from us, Paul alludes to it in his first letter to Corinth.

Why did Jesus hide this meeting?  Well think about it:  Would you want the whole world to see your greatest shame on full display?  Jesus knew it would crush Peter so he spared him that embarrassment, though I think we can all relate to his situation.  I’m sure there is not one of us who hasn’t done something of which we are throughly ashamed, yet we are grateful that Jesus has restored us.

If you’d like to read more about what the Apostle Paul wrote on this topic, you can check it out in 1 Corinthians 15:5 or you may follow the link below:

The Good Shepherd.

4) Quick To Recognize Jesus.

The fourth mention of this phrase is in John 21:4-7:

“But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.
Those who are aware of God’s love FOR them (like John) are quick to recognize and point the way to Him in such a way as to attract others.  They always seem to be out in front, pointing “the others” to Jesus!

5) Focued On Jesus.
The fifth mention of this phrase appears in John 21.
At the end of the discourse between Jesus and Peter, Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him.  The complete story of that interchange can be found in the link above.
John 21:20-22
“Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
Peter saw John following Jesus and asked, “What about this man?”  Jesus’ answered that he didn’t need to worry what other people are doing.  He needed to keep his focus on Jesus.  “YOU FOLLOW ME,” He said to him.
Those who are comfortable and close to Jesus go and do for Him out of love for Him without being told.  They are self directed.  Those who do not have a warm, familial relationship with Him are not self directed and feel the need to micromanage everyone else.  (Could that spill over into the rest of their lives? 🤔)
Jesus doesn’t share that mindset. He knows that those who know that they are loved by Him are motivated by that love.  They don’t need to be told what to do.
Effect Of Knowing You Are Loved.
Those who know how much they are loved BY Jesus don’t need anyone to tell them what to do or where to go.  They’re too focused on and occupied with Jesus and effortlessly follow Him.
Others, who are not conscious or aware of Jesus’ love FOR them, seem all too concerned about what everyone else is doing instead of occupying themselves with Jesus.  All they need to do is turn around and face the other way and they’ll be right.

You and I, Church, can do just what John did: Practice Jesus’ love FOR US by going through our day, leaning on Him and reminding ourselves:  “I am the disciple whom Jesus loves…..”

…..Because you are. You really are the disciple whom Jesus loves!

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