"There would be other close friends in Jesus’ life, but I doubt any of them could ever take the place of his one-of-a-kind cousin and friend John."
—From Ch. 17 ("His Cousin, Of Course"), Jesus Journey
For a season in the life of our family, we found ourselves living with my in-laws (who also happen to be Trent’s parents, Glenn and Jackie Sheppard) on their small farm a few miles east of Kansas City, Missouri.
It was during that time that our middle child, Hudson, found his inner farmer. Hudson was four years old then and he became a sort of animal whisperer for all the various forms of animal life on the farm. Remarkably, in fairly short order, our little Doctor Doolittle had begun to tame the clutter of feral cats, which my in-laws kept to keep the mice population down.
One cute little gray, tiger-striped kitten became a source of reciprocal affection for Hudson. When we asked if the cat had a name, he responded matter-of-factly: “Yes, that’s My Best Friend."
After the smiles and chuckles, we asked again, “Yes, buddy. But what’s his name?”
“I told you Daddy”, Hudson said, “that’s My Best Friend.”
It was a friendship of deepest accord. They seemed to just get each other—Hudson and My Best Friend. When they were together, they were inseparable and seemed to share something beyond a natural connection between a boy and his pet.
Needless to say, over time, we lost many of the nomadic felines, and eventually the day came when My Best Friend came to an untimely end. We were heartbroken. Something rare and precious had been lost. And our beautiful little Hudson was introduced all too soon to the reality of death and the grave.
There were more than a few “But why daddy’s?” and plaintive: “but he was My Best Friend"... as if somehow this explanation could persuade the unseen forces which had taken his companion to return him.
Heartbroken. And we humans were never designed to deal with it.
How much more pronounced it must have been for Yeshua when his beloved cousin, his best friend, John, died. Can you imagine the deep vexation, the deflation over the end of their camaraderie? John was most likely one of the the only people in the world that truly understood at least some of the depth of Jesus' identity...
And so, when John dies, here again in Jesus Journey, we see a snapshot of Jesus in full-blown emotional conflict over the clash of the two incompatible worlds: this Matrix-like existence we’ve come to know as “reality” and the mysterious other-world His beloved cousin has introduced as “The Kingdom of Heaven."
In just a short time afterwards, doesn’t Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead in Bethany? Hadn’t he already raised Jarius’s daughter? Couldn’t they just collect John’s corpse and He do likewise?
But he doesn’t. In fact, He doesn’t often do the things we would do with that kind of supernatural power. Clearly, there is something else going on here.
For me, the observations that Trent facilitates in Jesus Journey reaffirm the profound truth that Jesus was in all ways human indeed. He ate and drank and performed all the bodily functions to which we are accustomed, got annoyed, cracked jokes, cried, got tired and required sleep, bled when cut, and hurt—just like me. And you.
But He didn’t “cheat” by slipping into God-mode when things got hard. And this Man, the tekton from Nazareth did something that He has now enabled us to do as well: to live with a perspective that transcends that which our limited sensory faculties report to us; to live on a different plane; to see what the human eye cannot see, even when it pains us and is counter-intuitive to do so.
Somewhat amazingly to those of us with the benefit of retrospect, Jesus allows John’s remains to decay—just as He did His dad’s, leaving him alone with a handful of disciples/knuckleheads on whom the entire universal revolution will depend.
But in doing so, he opens wide the door to a new set of best friends: us.
Today's guest post is by my bro-in-love/law, Mark Harris (aka "Markravius" in the acknowledgments): Mark and Krista Harris are former long-time Youth With a Mission volunteers, having gone conspiratorially rogue to develop Lifetree International LLC, an entrepreneurial network intended to equip and fund families and ministries through business opportunity, personal leadership development, and practical tools and training.