I WAS THE BELOVED APOSTLE (Matthew 4:21-22; John 19:25-27; 21).
There will be much speculation about me in the future. There shall come up rumors that I will not die before the Lord returns. What mattered to me was that I was closer to Jesus than anyone else in our group. I, too, left the Baptist and spent some time with Jesus before we were invited to follow Him. The story, I have to tell, will be different from the others. The truth is that they did not like me very much because I followed Jesus like a little puppy. Jesus liked me being near Him and that made the other disciples envious. My association with Andrew and John the Baptist became incidental. Jesus even confided in me and that made the others even more jealous. When Jesus showed up at our landing one day and asked my brother James and me to follow him, we did so without hesitation. From that day on, I felt drawn to Him for life. I traveled with Him willingly and was ready to serve Him. I do recall that we argued over who among us was the greatest. Only, that role did not interest me. Peter was more suited as a group leader than anyone among us. I saw a higher purpose in what Jesus was doing. Jesus was not about making people important in this world, but important in heaven. That is why my brother and I had our mother ask the Lord to have us seated on His right and on His left in His Kingdom. Unfortunately, years would pass before I would come to understand what Jesus meant by the Kingdom. Even when the Master praised Peter for recognizing Him as the Anointed Son of God and told us that Peter would be the “Rock” on which Jesus would built His Kingdom, I was not at all certain what He meant. But after Jesus was crucified, I grasped what the Lord was driving at and I, too, began to associate with Peter.
While we were together with Jesus, we were zealous for our Teacher and were prepared to have fire fall on the Samaritans that refused to let us stay. That did not please our Teacher and He reminded us that the wrong spirit was misleading us. We did stop a man who used our Lord’s name to cast out demons because he was not willing to join our group. Our action also displeased our Leader. He felt that anyone who did something good for Him was not against Him. I took these lessons to heart and learned from them. I was reprimanded and I repented and that is why Jesus loved me and allowed me to be one of the three who were always with Him; namely, Simon Peter, my brother James and I. You will learn my name from my fellow witnesses. I did not feel worthy to be mentioned by name in my writings. I preferred to be remembered as the one whom Jesus loved. It was not that I was, in any way, better or more able than the others were. That was far from it. I may have needed more care and attention than the other students. I knew how to get close to people and make friends. I paid attention to what Jesus was saying. I always managed to be next to Jesus at dinners or on assignments. I was with Him when He raised a little girl from the dead. I was with Him when His appearance changed and Moses and Elijah showed up. I was with Him in the Garden at Gethsemane. And I was with Him when He was crucified. I was about the closest companion Jesus had. And He made no secret that He had a special love for me. He liked having me around and I liked the attention I was getting.
Being a confidant to some one you admire and love was difficult. Towards the end of our Master’s journey on earth, I became the one through whom the others communicated with Jesus. Peter asked me to find out who was going to betray our Teacher. It was painful to point out the traitor. I got to know Judas well and knew what he was up to. Judas managed to be in charge of our money and helped himself. I was surprised that Jesus urged him to do what he had to do. He left and brought the high priest’s band of soldiers to Gethsemane. Then Judas had the nerve to betray our Lord with a kiss. It pains me to say that we all panicked and ran. We were not there to defend Him before the high priest and before Pilate. It was even more painful to watch my Teacher’s mother. As soon as our Master was apprehended, I went to be with His mother. I went with her to the hill where the Roman soldiers nailed Her Son to the cross. I loved that lady and treated her as if she were my own mother. Her Son knew it and put her in my care before He died. From then on, I was her son. After our Lord’s Resurrection, He disclosed Himself twice and ordered us to return to Galilee.
Back in Galilee, we all went fishing with Peter. It was a fruitless night, until a “Man” off shore in the morning asked, “Children, do you have anything to eat?” We said, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the other side and you shall find some.” We did and filled our nets with 153 fish. Immediately, I recognized the voice and said, “It is the Lord.” Peter jumped into the water to hide his nakedness and the rest of us brought the boat with the fish on shore. Breakfast was waiting for us on a fire with coals. Jesus had prepared some fish and bread, invited us to eat while He divided the food. No one of us asked or spoke a word. We all knew that He was the Lord and that He had some special instructions for us. He had Peter reaffirm his love three times and handed the group over into his care. Then the remarkable happened. The Lord said, “Follow me.” Peter understood that Jesus meant him and I understood that Jesus meant me. When I too got up and began to follow Jesus, Peter was troubled and wanted to know where I was going? Jesus told him to follow and that I was not his concern. My Lord had a special task for me. He would endow me with a true understanding of genuine love, and make me His end-time messenger of the world. I would receive a special vision of events that shall precede His return to judge the living and the dead. To those who knew me, in person, I was John Zebedee, the disciple whom Jesus loved. To the world, I shall become an incomprehensible mystery writer. History shall unveil these mysteries. God has no secrets!