“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the iconoclastic sub-Christian blog that gets up everyone’s nose….Aachooo!!!
[London graffiti, Hertford actually, does this tag say ”Jesus’?]
“Jesus and the beloved disciple” is a chapter heading in Keith Sharpe’s excellent book “The Gay Gospels”, which I found a really mind-blowing read. The author’s technique is to analyse and contextualise biblical passages which mention homosexuality. He does this in a manner I aim for in the Zingcreed blog, but seldom achieve. He is both thorough and totally convincing. Any gay/lesbian/transgender reader will find all the ammunition they need to defend themselves and maybe even persuade bigoted church people to take a second look at Leviticus et al.
Zingcreed’s manifesto backs all efforts to support the oppressed, whoever and wherever they are.
This extract opens up a whole area about Jesus I had never thought about before.
Look where Jesus’ right arm is in these 2 church murals. It is around the one disciple that Jesus loved in some very particular way.
This disciple is present beside Jesus during all the most critical episodes in his passion, death and resurrection, and he is the only disciple of whom this is true. He is never named but is always referred to as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Tradition says he’s John. His special relationship with Jesus is evident in the gospel accounts of:
The last supper
The empty tomb
The resurrection appearance on the shore
The foundation of the church in the commissioning of Peter.
The singling out of this one disciple, who has no particular role in Jesus’ mission, and who is only ever described in terms of his being “beloved”, makes clear that what is going on here is some kind of relationship which goes beyond the love that Jesus felt for the other disciples.
You will have to read the book to get the full flavour, as I am only going to give brief quotes from it (pages 95-104).
(1) The Last Supper
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:21)
It would be unusual for 2 males to be cuddled up together in such physical closeness and bodily intimacy, and yet Peter and the other disciples seem untroubled by it. It looks as if Jesus had a same sex lover.
(2) The crucifixion
“Jesus (on the cross), seeing his mother and the disciple standing by whom he loved, he said to his mother ‘Woman, behold your son’. Then he says to the disciple,’behold your mother’.” (John 19:25)
He is the only disciple who did not abandon Jesus when he was crucified. He sounds like Jesus’ “significant other”, possibly the most important relationship in Jesus’ life as it ebbs away. The special relationship between the two was evidently open and acknowledged, rather than clandestine and hidden.
(3) The empty tomb
(Seeing the discarded sheets in the tomb) “He (i.e. the beloved disciple) saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the writing, that he must first rise from the dead” (John 20:10).
Thus, the beloved disciple is the first disciple, the very first person, to believe in Christ’s resurrection; not Peter or Mary Magdalene who were also present at the tomb.
(4) The resurrection appearance on the shore
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter ”it is the Lord’.” (John 21:7)
Peter and a number of the disciples are out fishing and don’t recognise the stranger on the shore. Even beyond death, however, the disciple with the close emotional attachment to Jesus knows him at once.
(5) The foundation of the church in the commissioning of Peter
“Peter seeing this one (the disciple that Jesus loved) says to Jesus,’ Lord and what of him?’ Jesus says to him,’if I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’ “ (John 21:20-24)
Peter has clearly come to regard the Beloved Disciple as much more than just a disciple. And astonishingly, Jesus confirms the truth of this. He declares himself responsible for the beloved’s fate, once again distinguishing this man from all others now entrusted to Peter’s care. The other disciples take this to mean that Jesus will protect the Beloved Disciple from harm until his return. They are wrong about this but that is not the point. What matters is that they think that this relationship is so close as to make the idea credible.
Yes, credible indeed! My local Saturday morning pavement preachers are 100% homophobic: I must try this out on them!
[London street art]
(i) church murals both by Maximino Cerezo Barredo at Servicioskoinonia.org/cerezo/imagenes
(ii) Sharpe, K. “The gay gospels. Good news for Lesbian, gay, Bisexual, and transgendered people” Circle Books (2011)
Related Zingcreed Posts:
I accuse #15: Anglican Archbishop and other Ugandan Christians are gay bashers
I accuse #17: Archbigot of York victimizes gay clergy
706: Bishops snub gays
708: Faith can harm your health #10: Church makes gays mentally ill