In John’s Gospel there is mention of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This disciple (an apostle really) is never mentioned by name. However it is universally accepted by biblical scholars both ancient and modern, by the Church Fathers as well that this beloved disciple is in fact the Apostle John himself who writes the gospel. In the gospel itself John (or more likely a later editor who attached a postscript) tips his hand when at John 21:24 the text says regarding the “disciple who Jesus loved,” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true
I would not dream of over-ruling such a consensus that the Beloved Disciple is John but I want to suggest to you that there is something more at work here than the identity of one man to fill this role.
With the exception of the verse I quoted just above, the exact identity of the beloved disciple is not supplied and John 21:24 just cited seems to have been added later most likely by the Johannine Community at Ephesus for the subject switches to “we” and refers to the beloved disciple as “he.”
John himself prefers to leave the beloved disciple unnamed. Perhaps this is humility. Or, perhaps his experience of being loved by the Lord was more precious to him than his name. It is almost as if when asked his name he might respond: “I am the one whom Jesus loves” instead of giving his name. In fact John never uses his name to refer to himself anywhere in his gospel. What is clear is that John knew and experienced that he was loved by God and that was apparently all that mattered to him in terms of his identity. This would also help to explain that this title was not an attestation that the Lord had favorites. Jesus himself does not use this title for John or any of the apostles. This is merely John’s self description of the fact that he was loved by the Lord and he knew that personally.
But the final thing I want to suggest to you, if you are prepared to accept it, is that John’s deeper purpose for not supplying the name of the beloved disciple is so that you will understand and experience in a very true sense that the beloved disciple is YOU. You are the disciple whom Jesus loves. You are the one who reclines next to the Lord at the Last Supper and first Mass (jn 13:23). You are the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross to whom the Lord said, “Behold your mother” (John 19:26). You are the beloved disciple who runs to the tomb and comes to faith (Jn 20: 8). You are the beloved disciple who announces to others, “It is the Lord” (Jn 21:7). You are the Disciple who follows after the Lord and Peter (Jn 21:20). The beloved disciple, if you are prepared to accept it, is you.