John 19:26, ‘Then Jesus, seeing…the Disciple whom He loved…’
The author of John’s Gospel never gives us his name (it is tradition that assigns it to the Apostle John), rather he refers to himself as ‘the Beloved Disciple,’ or ‘the Disciple whom Jesus loved.’ Similarly, he is never described to us as standing at the foot of the cross, instead, he appears seemingly out of thin air in v.26, receiving his place within the scene of the narrative only in that he is seen by Jesus.
In other words, John’s receives his identity not from the name he was given at birth, nor from the collection of achievements and recognitions he’s accumulated during his life, nor from an attempt at literary immortalization, but in that he is loved by another—by Jesus Christ. And he finds himself constituted, legitimated in his existence, called into and sustained in being, not by the fickle and transient attention of the crowd, nor the worth of his actions, nor the witness of his own autonomous mind (‘cogito, ergo sum’), but by the eyes of Him whose gaze is both the genesis and telos of that upon which it is set—by his being seen by Jesus Christ (‘me videt, ergo sum’). John (the only Evangelist to be present at the crucifixion) is wholly and graciously obliterated and recreated—slain and raised—under the loving gaze of His God from the resurrection-illumined cross.
So for us, Christian. We live in a post social-media world where it is damningly easy to ‘exist’ only in the eyes of others, to find our identity only within the matrix of other people’s attention, to receive our name from the praise—or indifference, or antagonism—of our peers.
But the Johannine vision of the Pierced Lord, looking in love upon us from the resurrection-illumined cross, exposes this whole world system as a lie…We exist in HIS gaze, Christian—our deepest validity is that He has seen and known us…and we are named by HIS love, Christian—our truest name is Beloved.