The End is Not Near (12)

Book 1: Chapter 12
June 11

Now as you know, my gospel wasn’t the only book I wrote. I was also the author of numerous others — including The Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation. In fact, I actually wrote quite a few other books over the past two thousand years (under different pen names of course), but most of those are tomes that I now want to forget.

What’s that?

You heard a rumor that I didn’t actually write The Book of Revelation?

I know that rumor. It’s a crock. Here’s an article all about it – save it for later because I don’t have time to get into all that now. 

[Note to Reader: This is Chapter 12 of Book 1 “The Pawns of Prophecy” – if you missed the start of the book, click here return to the main page. ]

For now let me continue filling you in on some more of the trials and tribulations of my looooooong life. 

You say you’ve heard enough? 

Well too bad. You should know once you get an old man talking about the past you can’t get him to shut up so you’re just gonna have to bear with me – or skip ahead to the next chapter. You’re choice, champ. 

Now where was I?

Oh yeah – I was talking about how Jesus made all these grandiose claims about returning for his Second Coming and doing it quickly.

So what the heck happened? Did he just forget? You got questions? I got a LOT more!

You may have heard that I was once known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Yet that’s a moniker I despise now. Why?

Because Jesus died nearly two thousand years ago and I can’t understand how I could be so beloved to him and yet still be left here to rot.

Alas, all this thinking is making me tired.

Where’s my bible?

What, you think because I drink and cuss that I don’t read the Good Book anymore? Sorry to disappoint you there, Sport. I’d wager my knowledge vs. yours any day. 

Have you ever read the Book of Job? 

If you’re not familiar with this classic, here’s a quick vid to give you a taste…

Ok so that video was a bit tongue in cheek but trust me, it ain’t far off the truth.

The fact is that life for Job sucked. And so it is for me now.

Let me sum it up for you with a few verses from Job, Chapter 3: 20-26

“Why is light given to those in misery, And life to the bitter of soul, To those who long for death that does not come, Who search for it more than for hidden treasure…? For…my groans pour out like water…What I fear has come upon me…I have no peace, no quietness, no rest, but only turmoil.”

Whenever I read those verses, bitter tears trickle down my cheeks – for I know that my dreams of death will elude me today once again – as they have for the last two thousand years.

For I am a man without hope — all my dreams ended the day He made me immortal.

As is my wont at times like this, I can’t help but engage in a bit of morbid self-pity. So I flipped the pages of my bible to my own gospel, and read from John, Chapter 21: 22,

“…And Jesus answered, ‘If I want [John] to remain alive until I return what is that to you?’”

Now let’s be clear on something here, when I wrote that verse, I had no idea that Jesus had already made me immortal. Yet the rumor was out there by the time my gospel first appeared on the scene and the stubborn legend only grew over time.

As you may know, other books have since been written about the subject too – even after I (or at least my original identity) had long since been lost to history.

Are you familiar with what The Book of Mormon said in Chapter 28: 4-7?

Or what about The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 7: 1-3?

As you can see when you read these verses, both of these texts support my immortality myth. And yet, as I think about the authors who wrote those lines I can’t help but wonder…

“So Jesus read my mind, eh? And these writers think I actually told him that it was my desire that I may live forever, huh? How could those charlatans know what I really said or felt? It’s not true.”

OK, to be honest, I’m not really sure anymore what I said or did two thousand years ago, but at least I don’t remember it quite like that.

I just wanted to live until Jesus returned. I mean is that really so bad? 

Let’s not forget something – Jesus was giving us all the impression that his Second Coming would be happening pretty quickly, so you can imagine that I would want to be alive to see that big event, right?

You see what I mean? He specifically said “I am coming soon” and he said it directly to me! How could I not believe him?

I thought he’d be back in a few months, maybe a year. Certainly no more than 5-10 years. But definitely NOT two-freaking-thousand years!

Believe me, there is no way I would have asked to be cursed with immortality!

Who would be so stupid?

It’s terrible.

Yet immortality is my fate now – as it had been then.

As for the rest of my story, if you must know, after Jesus left us, my brother James, Simon Peter, myself, and a few others worked hard in the Judean region for about a decade or so – trying to establish a new branch of Judaism we called “The Way.”

Eventually our sect would classify itself as the new religion of Christianity but back them my friends and I never intended to start a new religion – we simply wanted to perfect our Jewish faith.

For I was born a Jew and I had intended to die as one.

The problem for myself and the rest of Jesus’s Jewish followers was that, unlike most Jews, we believed (back then at least) that Jesus was our long-promised Messiah and that the End of the World was close at hand – mainly because that’s what Jesus told us to believe!

Unfortunately for us, The End never arrived and Jesus himself never came back.

Worse yet, me and my friends had soon caused such a stir in Jerusalem that the Jewish leader at the time — Herod Agrippa – began to persecute us to such an extent that we had no choice but to scatter to the four winds.

I left home and travelled throughout Asia Minor – still continuing to preach Jesus’ apocalyptic message. Eventually I ended up in Rome, but the authorities there didn’t take too kindly to the “End of the World is Nigh” fodder that Peter, Paul, and I were spreading, and over time we were all arrested. They murdered Peter and Paul, and I was supposed to be executed in Rome too.

One day they plunged me into a vat of burning oil, right there in the Coliseum. Does this look like fun to you?

SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST IN A VAT OF BOILING OIL by BENVENUTO DI GIOVANNI

Too bad for the Romans because I didn’t suffer a scratch and on top of that two things happened:

  1. I knew that Jesus really did make me immortal;
  2. The entire crowd at the Coliseum converted to Christianity!

At the time, I thought the last laugh was on Emperor Domitian, but soon enough, I realized the joke was on me.

After the failed execution, Domitian had me banished to the Island of Patmos – a tiny, middle-of-nowhere locale that drove me out of my mind.

With nothing to do but starve, it was on Patmos that I wrote The Book of Revelations. I told myself the book was an effort to stay in touch with the seven churches of Asia who were the most promising centers of our faith at the time and that my book would help inspire them to keep alert for Jesus’ Second Coming – which I foolishly believed was still imminent. 

Look – I get it – The Book of Revelation is out there – waaaaay out there.

But the fact is that I was going out of my mind on Patmos – until I discovered a certain plant on the island. See, what you may not know is that I penned Revelation after discovering the island’s supply of coca leaves. With a lot of time on my hands and nothing to do I became  rather addicted to the mind-altering effects of the coca — this may explain the book’s hallucinogenic undertones.

“Oh to have a few coca leaves with me now.” I sighed. Yet I knew that drugs were not a true escape – I’ve already tried them all, without success.

Two thousand years.

A host of identities.

And yet I’m still here. 

The truth is that the original Apostle John did not die.

Oh, I had a tomb as you can see here. It’s located in Ephesus and have a beautiful plaque. You should visit sometime. Just know that the body there is not mine.

The fact is that, after Patmos, I simply disappeared from society as “John the Apostle” and became an assortment of different characters.

In the beginning, I thought I was the only one who was immortal, eventually Lazarus and Mary of Magdala found me.

And that’s when my life got  a LOT more difficult…

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