The painting above depicts Peter and John, the beloved disciple, running to the tomb. Did Jesus have a favorite disciple? Today’s gospel from John gives us some insight into this question. Peter seems troubled that Jesus has such a close relationship with John.
Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,
the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper
and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?”
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?
You follow me.”
So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.
But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,
just “What if I want him to remain until I come?
What concern is it of yours?”
It is this disciple who testifies to these things
and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.
Is this passage troubling to you? It shouldn’t be, because his relationship with John reveals the humanity of Jesus. There were certain followers with whom Jesus had an especially close relationship. It doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t love all of us (even the Pharisees and Scribes!) but rather that he had an affinity for certain individuals, just as we all do. We too have special spiritual friends who we are drawn to by God to help us on our journey.
Today, tell the fellow disciple God has given you as a special friend that you appreciate his or her role on your journey of discipleship.