John the Apostle and John the writer may seem hard to reconcile with one another. John the Apostle, a son of Zebedee (and with his brother James a "Son of Thunder"), seems very close to Jesus; he is included, along with Peter and James, in many of the central events of Jesus’ life: the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, is entrusted with Mary, and is first at the Grave after the discovery of the Resurrection. He is mentioned in Acts, but unlike Paul, whose writings and references in Acts go hand in hand, the John of Scripture can seem removed from the writer John.
Except for one fact: he is the "Beloved Disciple".
The writer John produced a Gospel, three letters, and an Apocalypse. That, at least to me, is the connection. His writings are very intimate - not about himself, but about Jesus. It is John who points out to us that "God is Love" (1 John 4:7-21). His central theme is love, something that seems appropriate to the one known by Jesus as the beloved.
I think that the John of Scripture would not want us to see him in his writings - they are all about Jesus. That is probably the disconnect for us. For John, there is nothing but Jesus. His view of Jesus may border on hero-worship, the undying adulation of a youth to an older mentor - but I think that is a mistaken notion. He is not like Plato to Socrates, putting his own words into his mentor's mouth. He is John, the beloved, who is not only loved but loves and speaks the words of his master faithfully. It is he who must fade and Jesus who must rise.
Let us celebrate then this Love that is God.
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
-- John 20:2-8
Things to Think About