The Most Loved Disciple of Jesus

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When you read the title of this post you must have already been preoccupied with some names of disciples whom you think is the closest to Jesus. You must most likely be expecting Simon Peter and John to be the ones. Peter is a candidate because Jesus called him “The Rock” on which he would build his Church [Mat 16:18]. Peter was the one to give the right answer “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” for the question “Who do you say I am?” by Jesus [Mat 16:16].  In the last part of the gospel of John Jesus asks Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” and Jesus puts him in charge of his disciples. The claim for John is his own gospel where in the last chapter it identifies the disciple that Jesus loved the most as the author of the gospel [John 21:20-24].

Gospel of John is interesting in many respects. First of all unlike the other gospels it starts with unusual idea; an idea that is philosophical. Second, it plays hide and seek with the identity of Jesus most loved disciple instead of explicitly naming him. Third, John alone had omitted what could be called the pillar of Christianity and Eucharistic celebration; the blessing of the bread and wine by Jesus at the last supper.

Before we go any further we must understand the fight between the good and the bad are going on at all levels. The dark side is very quick to extinguish any trace of light that had been lit on this planet. What are the tools of darkness to fight light? They falsify the past, corrupt the scriptures to twist the facts, eliminate true sources of knowledge, wipe-out the cultures and civilizations that are the guardians of light by portraying them as heretic. The light gets around it by being one step ahead. It doesn’t directly engage in conflict with the dark but however finds ways to present and preserve its essence despite all the destruction. Gospel of John is a good example of such an effort. Despite the gospel reveling the truth to its seekers, managed to find its way into the holy bible by hidden the truth from plain sight. Not only that many gospels couldn’t find its way into the holy bible but many more were destroyed as they were considered heretic.

Often when a society is immature to accept a new idea it need to be introduced in a acceptable form however without loosing its essence. Much the same way when a child refuses to take the medicine the mother have to mix it with the milk and feed it to the child. The teachings of the religious teachers are only meant to guide mankind from one point in time to another with an ultimate goal of liberating us from our delusions. Their teachings were best formatted to the time and situation they were in. Its our duty to continue the search and go beyond what the teachers of humanity had taught us.

According to the Gospel

Now lets get back to our search on the real identity of the most loved disciple of Jesus. The gospel of John alone mentions the term ‘the most loved disciple’. The gospel starts mentioning this phrase at the last supper where Jesus predicts his betrayal. According to the accounts from the gospel:

[21] After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” [22] His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. [23] One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. [24] Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” [25] Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” – John 13:21-25 (NIV)

[23] Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. [24] Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. [25] He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? – John 13:23-25 (KJV)

Its quiet unusual for a man to lye on another man’s chest, let-alone for a disciple to lye on his teachers chest. Here I am not jumping to any conclusion so lets continue looking at other places in Gospel where it mentions more about the loved disciple of Jesus.

At Crucifixion

[25] Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. [26] When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” [27] and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. – John 19:25-27 (NIV)

[40] Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. [41] In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there. – Mark 15:40-41

[55] Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. [56] Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. – Matthew 27:55-56

[49] But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. Luke 23:49

The gospel of John states that the disciple whom Jesus loved witnessing his crucifiction. However non of the gospels have mentioned the presence of any of the disciples (apostle) or any men close to Jesus preset at the crucifiction though it explicitly name the women there. The gospel also says that the disciples deserted Jesus when he was arrested in fear of prosecution. Events after the crucification is in fact more interesting as there are many twists to the story. According to Gospel of John it was Mary Magdalene that not only found out and informed the other disciples that the body of Jesus was missing but its to her that Jesus appeared first (John 20:11-16). Does it say anything about her commitment to Jesus and her importance among the disciples?

[1]Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. [2] So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” – John 20:1-3 (NIV)

So far if you were thinking that Mary Magdalene was the loved disciple of Jesus then the above verses contradicts that. Its also clear that Peter is neither the one. There are two more accounts in the Gospel of John that mention the bellowed disciple of Jesus but before looking into that lets investigate another verse from the Gospel.

[1]Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: [2] Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. [3] “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. -John 21:1-3

Now who are the sons of Zebedee? They are none other than James and John (Mark 10:35 & Luke 5:10). John is in fact the person believed to be the author of the Gospel of John. Did John forget to mention himself as the bellowed disciple here? Who are the “other two disciples”? Keep this question in mind and lets go on to see the remaining two mentions about the bellowed disciple.

[7] Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. [8] The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. – John 21:6-8 (NIV)

[20] Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) [21] When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
[22] Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” [23] Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”[24] This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. – John 21:19-21 (NIV)

Notice in the above verses it explicitly identifies the particular bellowed disciple as the one leaned against him at the supper. This gives rise to the question, are there more than one bellowed disciple? Especially if you read it together with “the other two disciples” mentioned in John 21:2, whose identities are withheld. Even though Mary Magdalene is an important figure associated with Jesus, the mentioning of the bellowed disciple as ‘he‘ is what makes her unfit for the position. But on the other hand if the gospel had mentioned her as the bellowed disciple it would have never seen the light of the day as most other Gnostic gospels. Who acquainted with Jesus is know to have not died? As far as I can recall its Mary the mother of Jesus, as believed by the Catholics. However Mother Mary was never associated with any activities of Jesus. She is never mentioned accompanying Jesus or listening to his discourses. This is what Jesus had to say about his mother and brothers:

[47] Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” [48] He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” [49] Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [50] For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mat 12:47-50

The following verses show the devotion of Mary Magdalene to Christ and his teachings

[38] As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. [39] She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. [40] But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” [41] “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, [42] but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

The gospel of John show how close the family of Mary Magdalene was to Jesus

[1]Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) [3] So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
[4] When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” [5] Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [6] So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, [7] and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” – John 11:1-7

Now tell me who really ascended to heaven? Mary mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene? In a male chauvinistic society the most revered or acceptable position of a women is as a mother. A women excelling men in such a society is asking for trouble. So its not surprising to see that the truth is hidden from plain sight. I have simply organized the scattered information in the bible. Now that you have seen it and read it, so you may decide for yourself who the beloved disciple of Jesus is. But not all questions have been answered yet. The identity of the man (bellowed disciple) who came to the tomb of Jesus with Peter and the identity of the two disciples that went fishing with Peter before Jesus appeared to them at Galilee (John 21:2) are yet to be uncovered. If one of this bellowed disciple is  Mary Magdalene who could be the other? Why do they have to mask the identity of this disciple? Is this figure even more controversial than Mary Magdalene? Lets investigate further.

The Other Bellowed Disciple

As I have stated earlier, the mention of the bellowed disciple in the gospel of John starts at the last supper. So lets look at this in more details. Often when one thinks about the last supper the painting by Leonardo da Vinci comes into mind; Jesus and the twelve disciples. This paining had brainwashed us into believing that there were only thirteen people in total at the last supper. You must remember that Jesus had always been accompanied by many, both men and women.  The last supper was no different. The gospel of John reveals the identity of another man present at the last supper.

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” – John 14:22

People often miss this fact because the Last Supper starts at chapter Thirteen and this is mentioned towards the end of chapter fourteen. The gospel also have explicitly stated that this Judas is not Judas Iscariot who is believed to have betrayed Jesus. Lets see what Jesus have to say about his own betrayal.

[18] “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.”[19] “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. [20] Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”[21] After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” – John 13:18-21

[26] Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. [27] As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. – John 13:26-27

Wasn’t Judas Iscariot chosen by Jesus to be his disciple? If he were to betray Jesus wouldn’t Jesus have know about it when he chose Judas? Jesus made it very clear that he had personally picked each disciple and that he is not talking about any of them. Then the next question is who else is he talking about? Obviously the gospel only mentions one another person (at the last supper) who is not among the disciples; Judas (not Judas Iscariot). So lets call this Judas, Judas X for the time being. Judas Iscariot is chosen to be the scapegoat for Jesus’s death, to fulfill the passage of the scripture. Judas was the treasurer among the disciples as he was much more literate than the rest of them. It was Judas (“the one Jesus loved” – John 20:2) that outran Peter to reach the tomb of Jesus when Mary Magdalene informed them that the body of Jesus was missing. Also remember that the name Judas means “Praise to God” (Genesis 29:35).

The actual Judas that betrayed Jesus was Judas X who was a follower of Jesus as well. However he could not find favor with Jesus. He  never had the intention to get Jesus killed when he identified Jesus to the soldiers. But all these were orchestrated by the divine power to bring humanity out of darkness.

The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel whose content consists of conversations between the Disciple Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ. The content of the gospel had been unknown until a Coptic Gospel of Judas turned up on the antiquities “grey market,” in Geneva in May 1983, when it was found among a mixed group of Greek and Coptic manuscripts offered to Stephen Emmel, a Yale Ph.D. candidate commissioned by Southern Methodist University to inspect the manuscripts. How this manuscript, Codex Tchacos, was found, maybe in the late 1970s, has not been clearly documented. However, it is believed that a now-deceased Egyptian “treasure-hunter” or prospector discovered the codex near El Minya, Egypt, in the neighbourhood of the village Beni Masar, and sold it to one Hanna, a dealer in antiquities resident in Cairo.

The Gospel of Judas consists of 16 chapters which document Jesus’s teaching about spiritual matters and cosmology. Judas is the hero of this Gospel and the only one of Jesus’s disciples who accurately understands the words of his master. This Gospel contains few narrative elements; essentially, the Gospel records how Judas was taught by Jesus the true meaning of his messages.

This is what Jesus said about Judas in his own Gospel:

Jesus said, “You will become the thirteenth, and you will be cursed by the other generations-and you will come to rule over them. In the last days they will curse your ascent to the holy generation.”

So if you are reading this, it’s certain that the last days are fast approaching for the name of one of the most loved disciples of Jesus to reemerge into that of the holy generation. The truth can be hidden from some for ever and from everyone for sometime but not from everyone for ever. All I could warn you is that the truth could knock you off your feet. So be strong, expected the unexpected and be ready to accept the unacceptable.

 

References:

http://www.biblegateway.com

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf

Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, By Bart D. Ehrman

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