John, the Beloved Disciple, the youngest and perhaps the most vulnerable was born c. AD 6 in Bethsaida, Galilee, Roman Empire. His parents were Zebedee, a Galilean fisherman and Salome (or Joanna), a holy woman who cared for the circle of disciples. John was the younger brother of James the Greater, also among the first disciples called by Jesus. The two young fishermen, though generally calm and gentle by nature, were called Boanerges (sons of thunder) by Jesus. A gospel story tells of their demand to call down fire on an unbelieving Samaritan town, but Jesus rebuked them for their anger. Mark 9:38, Luke 9:54 James was the first Apostle martyred, and John lived over half a century beyond his brother’s death.
The Bible records several significant incidents that John personally witnessed, among them the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration of Christ, and his presence in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter and John were sent by Jesus to prepare for the final Passover meal, the Last Supper, at which John sat next to Jesus. Of the group of close Apostles, only John chose to remain at the foot of the cross. And from that cross, Jesus placed the care of His mother, Mary in his hands.
The Apostle Paul referred to John, along with Peter and James the Great, as the “pillars of the church.” John was a prolific writer, and traditionally, the Biblical author of the Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation.
He was the only one of the original Twelve to die a natural death, although legends of near death by poisoning and a miraculous escape from a vat of boiling oil exist. Roman authorities banished John to the Greek Island of Patmos, where according to tradition, he wrote the Book of Revelation. Saint John died c. AD 100, aged 93-94, place unknown. In our hearts, he remains the young and beloved disciple who never left His Savior’s side.