Article IX: Lies, Legends or History?

Written by:
Jacob King

While weighing the evidence, I came across what is called “The Gospel According to John.” As I read it, I was struck by its literary style; it was like nothing I had ever read before. It was a mixed drink of fantasy and history. It was as if The Lord of the Rings and a historical biography met one night in a club, got flirty and nine months later this otherworldly and oddly beautiful literary child was the result.

I read this literary mixed drink for the first time on my breaks when I was working at a windowless warehouse while in college. And during those breaks, I felt like I was being transported to another world: There was the usual drama, cowardice, and betrayal typical in a good story, but this “historical” narrative centered around the eternal Word “taking flesh” — flesh that, according to the author, was meant to be consumed by us mere mortal apes to gain everlasting existence.

This Word was going around breathing extraterrestrial powers upon his followers, healing illnesses with no other tool than his supernatural voice, and strutting upon water – the same water that he had earlier turned into an abundance of celestial wine. I had to find out more about this “John the son of Zebedee” character who authored such a wild “historical” piece. Either this guy was the first among our ape-descendant family to lick the back of a Sonoran Desert toad, or he really did experience a supernatural Word – soberly, and non-DMT induced – that fundamentally altered his once-ordinary existence all those years ago.

Around 100 A.D., almost all of Jesus of Nazareth’s original lead disciples had already been viciously killed by various authorities. Out of all his followers, the Word chose only three to be part of his innermost posse. These special few purportedly heard and saw miracles beyond even what the other nine had not witnessed. Even then, there was only one lead disciple left who had been an actual eyewitness to all his miracles, including his alleged resurrection from the dead. This witness’ name was John the son of Zebedee

When this Voice was crucified, this John was the youngest of his followers, estimated to be as young as a teenager (hence why he is often mistaken for a woman in Leonardo DaVinci’s Last Supper painting, sporting a hairless babyface… eternally embarrassing for him, I’m sure).

On the night of Jesus’ arrest, John had run from the authorities like the rest of his disciples; however, because of his age, he was considered a non-threat to the Roman authorities. And due to his youthfulness, John was able to return to the side of Jesus unharmed. That meant John was the only lead disciple to actually witness with his own eyes the lance the Roman executioners used to pierce Jesus’ side, confirming his death: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness… that you may also believe.” He was also one of those who claimed to have witnessed that same lifeless heart return back to life… forevermore.

As I dug more and more into what is known about this figure, I discovered John the son of Zebedee lived out his final years in Ephesus (near the western shores of modern day Turkey), where he was surrounded by a community of believers. These believers came to John in his old age and asked him, as the last living eye-witness of this Voice’s words and miracles, to reveal more about what this celestial figure really said and did while walking this planet. These believers had access to the other writings about him at the time, but they were written many years before. And, as John would later testify: “there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” There was still plenty more juice left to be squeezed - especially from someone who was a part of this innermost circle. John obliged and, at the end of his life, purportedly wrote this beautifully-weird piece.

I remember reading this for the first time thinking, this is too far-fetched to believe.

Well, John knew he was writing for a skeptical audience, and so, in his “gospel,” John lays out evidence so others can be assured, like him (and me at the time), that this Voice was part of this eternal family and spoke on its behalf. He begins his work: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten…, who is in the bosom of the Father has made him known.” John backs up his claim by structuring the rest of his book around seven miracles — five of them new and unreported signs that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the real historical known as Jesus of Nazareth was in fact this eternal Voice: “This, the first of his signs… [he] manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him…”

John claimed to be an eyewitness to all seven of these miracles; in fact, he says he saw them and many more: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe…” John claims to have witnessed Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding feast, with many other eyewitnesses present; Jesus healing a deathly sick child by just wishing it so, as the boy laid sick several hundred miles away; Jesus healing a man paralyzed for over thirty-eight years, with the simple command: “Rise”; Jesus feeding over five thousand, with only two loaves of bread and five fish, so they could continue to stay and hear him speak; Jesus restoring sight to a man born blind from birth by simply rubbing clay on his eyes, after which the man exclaimed to the religious haters: “Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing…”; Jesus raising a friend named Lazarus from the grave where he had laid dead for over four days; and finally, John notoriously witnessed the most impossible miracle, Jesus raising Himself from the dead — and unlike Lazarus, returning with a body that would never be threatened by death again… 

This wasn’t like a middle-of-the-night ghost sighting from half-awake witnesses with brains being saturated with DMT.

Jesus was with these eye witnesses, including John, for over forty days after his death. John testifies that Jesus ate with him and his friends on several occasions throughout this time: “They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them”; he spoke at length with them, many times – once with over five hundred witnesses. One eye-witness, dubbed “the doubter,” refused to believe everyone’s testimony until he saw with his own eyes Jesus’ hands (proof of the nail marks from the crucifixion) and the left side of his torso (where the lance pierced into his heart) to confirm it wasn’t a mass hallucination – and Jesus gladly obliged.

John’s claim of witnessing Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is so creatively different, so otherworldly, so scandalously false or life-changingly true that I became obsessed with searching the evidence. I went hard in the paint — and I mean hard. Unfortunately my social and dating life took a hit… but, with what was at stake, it was totally worth it.

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