LAZARUS, THE BELOVED DISCIPLE
It is only the Book of John that has the “beloved disciple” and it is only the book of John that has the story of Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary.
Author John tells us early on that it is these three that Jesus loves.
John 11:5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,
Jesus loves all his disciples in general (Jn 13:1), but only these three specifically.
Except that Jesus “loves” someone he meets only briefly in Mark 10:21 and who leaves immediately. So that is not the beloved.
There are various passages in the Book of John pointing to an unnamed “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Perhaps a woman – at the Last Supper a beloved disciple leans on Jesus’ chest (John 13:23 (KJV)). Perhaps a man – in the fishing scene (John 21:7) where the beloved disciple is present, Peter is naked – so no woman is present.
As I go through all the clues I am keeping in mind that the Easter tomb scene with Mary Magdalene has what appears to be an edit (20:2-10 being inserted). Mary Magdalene leaves the scene to go fetch the beloved disciple. So the editor does not want us to think the Magdalene is the beloved. If it is an edit.
Chapter 21 is an add-on to the final chapter. And the purpose of chapter 21 appears to be to confuse the identity of the beloved as that chapter does not accomplish much else. By adding a naked Peter, the biblical author makes sure we know that a Mary was not present. Certainly not in the middle of the night with a naked Peter.
I think the Book of John starts out in the earlier scenes intending to have a woman as the beloved, perhaps Mary of Bethany anointing, or more likely Mary of Magdala at the cross. But then with the edit in chapter 20, the Magdalene is out, and in the fishing scene in chapter 21, a man is in. Probably Lazarus.
Here is the development of the beloved in John, step by step:
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him! [Lazarus]”
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. [Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus. At this point she is playing the role of the Bride (Pagan myth) and as someone Jesus loves, she could possibly be the beloved.]
One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; [at the Last Supper]
So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. [Judas is reclining close to Jesus and may be the one reclining next to him and Judas may be the beloved disciple. But more likely it is a woman “lying on Jesus’ breast” (KJV) who is the beloved.
But wasn’t it only “apostles” present with Jesus at the Last Supper? How could any woman be there? The Gospel accounts of the Last Supper say there were disciples present and also apostles. Except that the Book of John does not use the word apostle. You may convince yourself that more than just the Twelve were present – You can see that some of the 70 are present at the Last Supper (compare Luke 22:35 and Luke 10:1-4). Surely we can imagine Jesus invited the threesome he “loved,” Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, as he had just had dinner at their house a few days earlier and Lazarus had been at the table with him (John 12:1-2).]
But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. [At the Last Supper, proximity of Judas to Jesus – the NIV has, “But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.” The great ability of Jesus to forgive is what makes me want to question if Judas could be beloved. After all, we can imagine that Jesus did not get up in order to give Judas the dipped bread, nor did Jesus pitch it across the room, high school cafeteria style. Judas was at most only inches away.]
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” [At the cross is Mary Magdalene. She is the only one present who could be a “beloved disciple” (disciple being masculine in Greek). Jesus’ mother is not the beloved, as the mother is with the beloved. One or two other women are present, but not considered to be the beloved. No man is standing next to the cross as far as we know. However, it is possible that the biblical author has just put Apostle John or some other man there without telling us explicitly.]
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” [Mary Magdalene leaves the tomb and runs to the beloved disciple. As the weeper at the tomb, Mary Magdalene plays the role of the Bride (Pagan myth) and has already been designated the beloved at the cross. Mary Magdalene is at the Easter tomb as befitting a wife coming to anoint her husband, a task that she would not have delegated to anyone. The editor makes someone else into the beloved by making Mary Magdalene run to him/her and then suddenly in the text, the Magdalene is instantly back at the tomb to encounter the risen Jesus.]
Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. [The beloved is among these as we find out later in the chapter. Notice there are two unnamed disciples. Some traditional interpreters have picked John, son of Zebedee as the beloved, and plopped him at the cross and onto Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper. But only because his name, John, is the same as the name of the Book of John, which ends by saying that the beloved is the author of the Book of John. Of course “John” is the name of the book, not necessarily the name of the author.]
That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. [The beloved disciple is in the boat with a naked Peter. So now the beloved is male. Switching from female to male is consistent with what they did in Revelation 21:2, making the Bride into the New Jerusalem, a city, and erasing her further.
Did you notice that when the Vatican honored Mary Magdalene in recent weeks with a fancier feast day, she was not feted as the Bride, but as “Apostle to apostles.” So when will the Bride return? How odd to have a Bridegroom without any Bride but one who is a city or a male. But Christianity was a reform calculated to jettison the Bride whom it held responsible for various objectionable practices in Paganism, such as: prostitution in temples, incestuous deities, self-castration by males, and human sacrifice. The reform was welcomed by women.
It is amusing to see how some translators at Biblegateway finesse John 21:7 to avoid saying what even the KJV says, Peter was NAKED, to not offend the pew potatoes. Let’s not be timid when translating, as Peter’s nakedness happens to be a key to understanding what happened to the beloved. She morphed into a he.]
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” [Judas as beloved works here, if Judas playfully said that, and if this is yet a third post-betrayal story of Judas. Lazarus works best here as he was constantly with Jesus and Jesus loved him.]
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. [Jesus had Lazarus as a side-show.]
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that [the beloved] remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” So the rumor spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” [This question about longevity is relevant to the raised Lazarus. Having been raised from the dead, would he later die? An important question. If we allow a woman to be present, then perhaps the raised daughter of Jairus could be the beloved as the same question would apply to her (as a friend has postulated). But Mounce in 21:5 has Jesus address those in the boat as “boys.”]
This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. [Apparently, the beloved disciple is the author of the Book of John.
The chapter 21 add-on would seem to have legitimate authorship as it bears the “signature” of the Sower’s Sevens of which I now have 34 examples. Here is the calculation for John 21:11 which has 153 fish: 100 x 1 = 100; 60 x 5 = 300; 30 x 3 = 90; sum of products = 490 = 70 x 7 how-to-use-the-sowers-parables-numbers. What do we believe? That someone stood there on the beach and counted the number of fish and that number just happens to produce the hidden sevens? The special number is code for something, like maybe it identifies the authors to their own group.]
It would seem that the identity of the beloved shifts throughout the Book of John due to editing and the extra ending?? Mary Magdalene seems to be the beloved at the cross, then later, I guess Lazarus is the beloved. Lazarus is (a) male, (b) raised from the dead, and (c) loved by Jesus. Nobody else fits.
But the author of John is a master of illusion. He starts in Cana with the wedding. The first-century Pagan readers would have thought they knew who was “Cana’s Bride” (side –bar). They would have thought they knew who would be at the cross – Jesus’ mother/consort, and then it turns out she is two women and more! Then we end up with Lazarus as the beloved. No wonder some wanted to kill the Christians. That was blasphemy to turn the Bride into a man, because it was contrary to their religious myth of the Bride/Mother and the Bridegroom. (And no, I am not making a comment on same-sex marriage.)
If the author of John is Lazarus, then I’ll call him he. But is this author ever on the level? Just think for a moment. Why is it that Jesus asks for help removing the stone from the tomb of Lazarus? Why is it that Jesus asks others to help unbind the risen Lazarus? (Jn 11) Why is it that Lazarus has to die again? Was he not raised by a god, the God who gives Life? And after Jesus went to sit at the right hand of the Father, did no one ever die again? Did no one ever get leprosy again? Did the Spirit come and no one ever made a mistake again? Did no one ever lack for wine at a wedding again?
When the author of John writes, “Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord,” isn’t that a puzzle in itself? They didn’t dare ask, but they knew?
And was it the will of Jesus that Lazarus should remain until Jesus returned? Lazarus if you are still alive, please let me know by leaving a comment.
I rather doubt the author of John is Lazarus, just because I have to evaluate everything he/she writes as there are too many leaps in his/her writing. It does not seem steady to me. A great story-teller but a bit too clever for my tastes.
I would have preferred something written straightforward about Jesus. Not a guessing game about a beloved disciple with the identity of the beloved deliberately?? being shifted throughout, from Mary of Bethany at the anointing, to Judas at the Last Supper, to Mary Magdalene at the cross, to Lazarus at the ending, Lazarus who was there all along?? It catches the imagination, yes, but I would have preferred just facts.
Instead I get religion for grownups.
Oh OK, I admit I thoroughly enjoyed searching for the Bride.
NRSV used throughout except as noted
Posted: August 2, 2016