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TANATA is devoted to discussing the paradoxes and the mysteries of life, among which is the paradox of the coexistence of good and evil. “God is love,” John tells us. Evil exists, we would suggest, not because God is detached or unconcerned, but because free will exists which is required for true, unforced love to exist. Still, it is painfully hard to reconcile this paradox. We believe that all evil one day will be judged and destroyed, until then we must pray.

DANIEL 7:13-14

13 “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.

14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.

REVELATION 1:7

7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

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Thursday
Jan222009

What would Jesus want in a friend?

What sort of person would Jesus have wanted as a friend? What sort of qualities in another man would Jesus have admired? Loyalty? Compassion? Courage? Wisdom? A dazzling intellect? Would Jesus’ best and most trusted friend have been a man of sorrows as Jesus was?

Of all of the types of people in the world who could be characterized as sorrowful, considering all of the races that comprise the family of man, what sort of person would a man of sorrows be? What group of people today are the most sorrowful of all people?

To whom among Jesus’ disciples would he have shown favor … without causing the other disciples to be angry with him? Those who were constantly asking Jesus who among all of the disciples would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Namely James and John, the sons of Zebedee? That’s not likely.

It has been nearly 2,000 years since the Gospels were written — and out of them there is one central and abiding question or mystery which remains: Who was Jesus’ most beloved friend? One of the twelve, which would have created friction among the other eleven, one can imagine? Or someone who, while he may have been a disciple of Jesus, was not one of the twelve disciples? We know that the Beloved Disciple was a man, which is made apparent in the Gospel of John, beginning with chapter 13, verse 23, when the presumed writer of the Gospel of John seemingly references himself as “one of His disciples, the one whom Jesus loved.”

From there we note that in John 20:2 at the empty tomb an unidentified man called “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved” appears with Peter and Mary Magdalene (which negates her as the Beloved Disciple). The identifier “the other disciple” suggests to us that this disciple is not one of the twelve. Is there another John besides Zebedee’s John who might be the Beloved Disciple and who might have written the Gospel of John, as well as Revelation and the Johannine epistles (1, 2, 3 John)? Yes, there is. And, according to a Coptic biography, he was a writer. 

However, the mystery persists, and it does largely because of the fact that the Gospel according to John is an anonymous work. Only by way of the testimony of early church fathers who wrote in the second and third centuries do we know that the writer of the fourth gospel was an evangelist or presbyter named John. The book of Revelation is signed by a man named John or Johannes, so we must assume that this John also wrote the fourth gospel, which is intimated in the final chapter, chapter 21, of the Gospel of John. Here we learn by way of a conversation between Jesus and Peter regarding martyrdom — the martyrdom which apparently awaits each of the twelve disciples — that the writer of the Gospel of John, whoever he is, will not taste death. We know that the writer of Revelation was someone who probably lived to an old age on the island of Patmos near Ephesus in what today is Turkey, where the Apocalypse of John or Revelation was written. So, a man named John, who presumably was one of Jesus’ earliest disciples, did not die until Revelation was written at the end of the 1st century. Who was it? Scholars say it was not John the son of Zebedee, for a whole range of reasons — he being like Peter “uneducated and untrained” (Acts 4:13) — and we agree. Neither presumably could write and write well, evidenced by Peter needing a personal scribe, who happens to have been a man named John. A hint.

Which one of Jesus’ disciples did not taste death but lived to be an old man, an elder of the early Christian church and a writer of very mysterious material? Who among Jesus’ twelve disciples would Jesus have favored and loved most so that he should not have to die? Would Jesus have played favorites, could he have … and still been able to keep his group of twelve disciples intact and loyal to his cause and purposes? Showing favoritism would not be something that we should expect Jesus to be guilty of doing. The Beloved Disciple, then, must be someone who was set apart from the twelve, which is suggested to us in Mark 14:20, when Jesus, in response to the Beloved Disciple’s question about who it is who will betray Jesus, says, “It is one of the twelve.” One of the twelve. Not one of you or one of you twelve men, but one of them.

Who was a disciple of Jesus who was not one of the twelve who might have been Jesus’ most beloved and trusted friend? What disciple presumably named John?

Are we going to ask this question forever … or will there ever come a time when this question, this mystery will be answered? Jesus himself said that there would come a time when that which has been hidden will be revealed. Is this time such a time?

Who is the Beloved Disciple, a man who is presumably named John? We say it is the same man who wrote the Gospel of Mark, whose first name, a given Jewish name, was John — an African scholar, a man of color perhaps, which may therefore have made him like Jesus … a man of sorrows and persecution. Though we believe we have solved this 2,000-year-old mystery pertaining to the identity of the Beloved Disciple, the scholars we have contacted are more interested apparently in picking apart our hypothesis than knowing the truth. If we have it right, it is fitting that we do … and they don’t. (See the link “Who Was Jesus’ Best Friend?” beneath the “NOW APPEARING” links.)