I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled…
You naturally ask, was there anything noticeable or distinguishing in the character of this much-favoured disciple? We answer, Christ's love is free. It must be so, for it is everlasting — it precedes the existence of its objects; and further, it must be so, for its objects are guilty and evil — they have nothing in them to attract, they have everything to repel. Christ's love has its cause, or reason, in Himself. Even our love is in some respects free. It cannot be bought; it cannot be forced; we cannot reason ourselves into it. But while love is thus in its nature free, yet, in examining the objects of it, we find that they possess some real or supposed qualities, which are the ground of this peculiar esteem. In our blindness we often fancy qualities which do not really exist; and so, on more intimate acquaintance, we are often disappointed. But the Lord cannot be thus mistaken; and so, when we find one distinguished from his companions as "the disciple whom Jesus loved," we infer that, through grace, He must have possessed some qualities which the others had not, or not in the same degree. What was it, then, in John, on whom the Lord's complacency rested? It was not any peculiarly high talent, for in this Paul was superior. It was not any peculiar aptitude for business and the conduct of affairs, for in this Peter seems to have excelled. It was for the qualities of the heart, rather than the head, that John was distinguished; and the secret of the Lord's peculiar delight in him is perhaps found in this: "I love them that love Me, and they who seek Me early shall find Me." John was a man of warmer, fervid temperament, as appears from the Lord calling him and his brother Boanages (sons of thunder); and this ardent heart was given wholly and abidingly to Christ. He came young to Christ, as appears from the long period that he outlived his Master. He came also early; for he was one of the two who, in consequence of John Baptist's words, followed Jesus to His dwelling, and became His disciples. His deep, fervent love, unconsciously breaks forth in many ways. His love to Christ, as well as Christ's to him, appears in his place at the table — the nearest to Jesus. His love made him follow his Master to the judgment hall; made him linger at the cross when the others were gone; made him foremost in the race to the tomb, and first to believe the story told by the forsaken but orderly grave clothes. It was his love, quick sighted, that made him the first to recognize his Beloved on the shores of Tiberias, in the grey twilight of the dawning day. It was admiring love that made him close his gospel with the glowing words (John 21:25). It was panting, longing love that made him close his Apocalypse with the fervid prayer (Revelation 22:20). John's very faults show his love to Christ...But further, John had a deeper, truer insight than the others into the Divine glory of Christ's person, and the spiritual nature of His work. The others begin with His earthly lineage and birth, and occupy themselves chiefly with His manhood. John begins with the eternal Godhead. The others dwell on the works of benevolence and power which crowded Christ's laborious days. John takes little note of these, but dwells rather on the glory of the grace and truth, and gathers up the words of life and power. John seems to have been among men what Mary was among women — he sat at Christ's feet, and heard His words. Hence his gospel is different from the others. While the other evangelists speak chiefly of Christ's dealings with the bodies of men, John dwells more on His dealings with men's souls. The Lord must have felt that John knew Him better, and appreciated Him more fully, than the others. We can conceive that, when Christ performed any act of higher import, or uttered any word of deeper meaning, His eye would unconsciously turn to John, and would be ever sure to meet John's loving, gleaming eye!
Parallel VersesKJV: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.