The Beloved

November 06, 2023 · by Whitney Gothra

“One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side,” ‭‭John‬ ‭13‬:‭23‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

Throughout the book of John, he describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.

At different stages in my life, I have read his description of himself with varying emotions. Sometimes I read it and get tickled - can you imagine looking at a group of twelve people hand-picked by God and having the nerve to label yourself alone as the beloved one? The audacity! Then sometimes I read it and feel this deep longing. Would I ever feel confident enough to introduce myself as the woman whom Jesus loves? I would for sure have to start small. Perhaps I could put my Starbucks order in as “the woman whom Jesus loves.” But then I’d have to scrounge up the courage to saunter up to the counter and claim my caramel brûlée latte when the barista calls out “the woman whom Jesus loves!” The audacity. Let alone pulling a John and writing a book to be read throughout the ages, claiming the title as my own until the end of time.

The disciple whom Jesus loved.

The man whom Jesus loved.

The woman whom Jesus loved.

The familiarity! The surety, the confidence. The audacity! But isn’t that who we are? Isn’t that the very reason Jesus clothed Himself in flesh and stepped literal foot onto the earth? Because He “so loved the world”?

I recently read this quote by JR Miller, found in Muncia Walls’ commentary on the book of John:

“He does not speak of himself as the disciple who loved Jesus. This would have been to claim preeminence among the disciples and would have shown a boastful and self-confident spirit. He said he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. He glorified the grace of Christ. He was what he was - only because Christ loved him.” - JR Miller

What has seemed audacious is, in fact, so. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved. John, surely just as much a sinner as all of the twelve. Surely in as much need of a Savior. John boasts not in his love. He doesn’t claim to have a bigger heart, be a better Christian, or love more perfectly. No, John chooses to glory in the audacious love of Christ. The love of Christ that has no measure, no limits, no ending, and no explanation. The love willing to be beaten, bruised, pierced, and crucified. The love willing to die, but unwilling to stay in the grave. The love that will not allow death or life, height or depth, things present or things to come, or anything else in all of creation to separate Himself from His beloved.

John’s identity wasn’t in anything he had earned or deserved or accomplished. His identity was found in the grace, mercy, and love of Jesus Christ. For where would he be without the mercy and grace of God? Where would we all be?

The disciple whom Jesus loved.

It has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Him. We are His beloved. We simply have to accept the gift of His audacious love and walk humbly in it.


The woman whom Jesus loves

Whitney Gothra

About Whitney Gothra

Whitney Gothra and her husband Timothy have been married for around fifteen years, and they have three sweet and spicy girls, Ruby, Selah, and Marigold. They pastor the Apostolic Church of Wabash in Wabash, Indiana. You can connect with her on Instagram @theflourishstudio or online at whitneygothra.com.