Who is the disciple that Jesus most loved? Most people would say John, but is this what the Bible really teaches us? To find out the truth, we have to jump around the four gospels and see what the scriptures say.
Then she runneth, (Mary Magdalene) and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulture, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulture. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulture. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying: yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulture, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And that the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulture, and he saw, and believed. John 20:2-8
When we read these versus above, it is very evident that the disciple whom Jesus loved, along with Simon Peter, were the two who followed Mary Magdalene to the empty tomb. Now we go back to Mark chapter sixteen…
Afterward he (Jesus) appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Mark 16:14
Mark chapter 16 takes place after the empty tomb has been discovered. Notice what it says…Jesus appeared unto the eleven. (Eleven, because Judas Iscariot is dead and no longer part of the twelve.) And notice that none of the eleven believed…not one…but as we read in John 20:8 the disciple whom Jesus loved saw and believed. This means that either the Bible got this wrong, which it didn’t. That the disciple Jesus loved is John, and John believed, then later on did not believe…which is highly improbable…OR…the disciple whom Jesus loved is NOT John as we are most often taught. To get to the bottom of this, we have to dig even deeper into the scriptures. (Yes, this scripture also proves that Simon Peter was in the room and that he was at the tomb, but note…nowhere does it say in John 20:2-8 that Peter believed!)
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest; and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out the other disciple, which was known unto the high priest and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. John 18:15-16
We read here that Simon Peter, and another disciple, who we are often told is John, go to the palace. Peter cannot get in, not until the other disciple, who is known, gets in and then gets permission for Peter to gain access.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
In Acts 4:13 it clearly states that ‘they took knowledge of them’. In Acts 4:6, it clearly states that Peter and John are standing before the high priest…but wait, if it was John who was standing before the high priest in John 18:15-16 why was he not known of the high priest? Because we ready clearly in John 18:15-16 that ‘the disciple was known of the high priest’. A person cannot be known one day, and not known the next or even a few weeks later. Once you are known of someone, undo cannot undo the knowing.
It is clear that John is NOT the disciple that Jesus loved. So, if John is not the disciple Jesus loved, who is?
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. John 11:5
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! John 11:36
If you want to read John chapter 11:1-36, you will see this is the account of when Lazarus dies and Jesus raises him from the dead. For my purposes, I took out the two versus that pertain to what I am writing about. The two scriptures above are the ONLY two scriptures in the Bible that explicitly state that Jesus loves specific people. Martha, her sister and Lazarus. NO where else is any person called out by name where it states Jesus loves so and so. No where in the Bible does it say Jesus loved John…but it does say he loved Lazarus. (Now this is not to say Jesus does not love anyone else. We are told in John 3:16 that God so loved the world…) This is not the point to be made, the point to be made is no where else in the Bible, aside from John 11:5 & 36, does it specifically name people Jesus loved.
John 12 is the last mention of the name Lazarus, then in John 13, the Bible uses the term the disciple whom Jesus loved. Why the switch?
Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. John 12:9-11
We read here that people were not ONLY coming to see Jesus, but Lazarus too. Because Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus was becoming a celebrity. Taking people’s eyes off Jesus and placing them onto another is not a good thing. It only makes since that from this point on, the author stops using Lazarus’ name and refers to him as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
Another point to be made here…Lazarus is becoming such a problem that the chief priests want him dead…that ties back to John 18:15-16. Lazarus was known of the high priest because he was a wanted man. Everyone knew Lazarus had died. He was dead several days before Jesus resurrected him. It was a big deal when Jesus resurrected Lazarus, not just because of the miracle itself, but because there was no way the priests could say it did not happen. Too many people saw the burial of Lazars’ body, too many people saw the resurrection and or the aftermath. Lazarus was a threat because there was no way the priests could spread rumors that his resurrection was a fake. People would know they were lying. And Lazarus attracting people to Jesus was a big problem for them, hence the reason they wanted to kill him.
That brings us to another point…it is not until Acts 4:13 that John is described as bold. Go back and read the four gospels…John was not a very brave or bold man. It was not until Acts 4, AFTER John is filled with the Holy spirit that he is bold!
We now know that it was actually Lazarus who entered the palace of the high priest; and as wanted man…pretty bold. Something John would not have had the courage to do so. And that strange account in Mark 14:50-52 when a young man wearing linen appears and then flees during Jesus’ arrest…most likely Lazarus. The men who had arrested Jesus tried to detain the young man…again, Lazarus was a wanted man!
The disciple who ran to the tomb outran Peter, not because of a petty rivalry, as we are often taught, but because of passion. Lazarus outran Peter because he had more courage, no fear and greater passion. Lastly, take note… in John 20:7-8, the other disciple did not believe until after he saw the napkin (or face cloth) lying separately. Remember…Lazarus too had been buried and risen. What was covering his face when he stood? The napkin (John11:44). Lazarus’ face was covered and his covering had to be removed. Jesus’ cloth was folded and separate from the burial clothes. This is the very thing that caused Lazarus to believe.
Why was Lazarus so bold, and the other disciples weren’t until after they were Holy Spirit filled? Because Lazarus had already tasted death. He had ‘been there and done that.’ He did not fear death.
Some may argue, that the disciple whom Jesus loved, had to be John, because he is called disciple, and to be one of Jesus’ disciples, you were one of the twelve. Truth is, Jesus had many disciples, not just the twelve. And no where in the Bible does it ever say the disciple whom Jesus loved is one of the twelve. We know Lazarus was not considered one of the twelve, so this fact alone, that the Bible never states that the disciple whom Jesus loved was part of the twelve only helps support the facts, that all point to Lazarus being the disciple whom Jesus loved.
The more I study God’s word, the more I come across things that are often taught incorrectly. It is mind boggling how many false teachers are out there, and or, how many false teachings the church as a whole don’t even realize are false; and teach as doctrine or fact. This is a huge problem, and why it is so important to get into the word yourself. Take everything you hear or read and hold it to the scriptures! Do the research yourself! It is so easy to get led astray if you are not in the word. However, if the Bible is your ONLY source for truth, and you are well read, then it will be much harder to be led astray when you run into a false teaching. From my own personal experience, the more one knows the Word, the better your discernment.
The next time you read the book of John, or see a picture of the last supper, you will be armed with truth, and the events will actually make sense, and you will get a much deeper understanding. (Yes! Do your own study, it was Lazarus who was sitting closest to Jesus during the last super, not John.)