St John: the last Apostle

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Today is the feast day of St John, the beloved disciple, and these thoughts were inspired by Robert Browning’s poem ‘A Death in the Desert‘.

It felt so long ago – he felt so near. We had beheld him, we had touched the Word and the Light; now only I was left. Once I had gone, what then? Not for me that question – that was why he felt near. Soon, so soon, I would once more behold him whom I had loved above all others face to face; what was incomplete would be complete. But the question is for them – those here who tend to a dying old man. If I smile, it is at their insistence that the end time would come before I died; that was their way of explaining the long-delayed second coming – and, no doubt, why this old bag of bones kept going long after my legs had given out. It was love which made them carry me to the church on Sunday. They would cluster round, expecting me to say something profound and being disappointed when I said: “love one another, little children” – as thought that was not the whole of the Way; what is more profound than that? When they are wiser, they will know it. But I notice that the youngest ones know it – theirs is the wisdom of which he spoke when he said we must be like little children if we are to enter his kingdom.

It was all so very long ago. I look forward to seeing Peter – dear Simon-Peter, a man who would charge a Roman legion – it might be the wrong legion at the wrong time, but if it protected someone he loved, he’d do it. His heart was big as a lion’s, and I shan’t forget how he changed in the twinkling of an eye on that first Resurrection day. I outdistanced him to the tomb, but waited for him before we both went in – and everything was utterly changed – for ever. Then there will be mother Mary. So dear she always was, and so dearer she became after we clung to each other on the dreadful hill of the skull, where he gave us to each other. She came with me to Ephesus and to Patmos, and at the last there was that cloud which descended – and ten she was gone. How could she, who bore the Saviour of the world have needed to die before being reborn? She saw not death or corruption. Even now, when men and women have begun to collect relics of the old days, they ask me where her bones lie so they may reverence them, and I have to say they lie nowhere – she passed where I will soon be going without the interval I shall have. He loved her, and she loved Him – what Son would not do that for his mother?

And so with my passing, pass all who were his Apostles. The others went long ago, including that strange but wonderful man Paul. I remember when Barnabas vouched for him. The others thought it some trick, but you only had to be in his presence to know he has seen the Risen Lord too; he supplied what was lacking in us.

The light fades, and yet I see on the other side the Light waits for me. I have been patient these many years. I have kept the faith. It was hard to see those whom I had helped bring to him fill themselves with ego and make their claims as to what it all meant. So I wrote. I had thought the vision would be enough, and I hear they have kept some of the letters from the time of the troubles in our little community. But at the last it came that with all that the others had written, someone needed to write that God is love, and that He was in the beginning and was God. This seems deep to those who are not redeemed by him, but is simple enough to those who have come to him. The light of this world grows dim – that of the next is Him, and to Him whom I loved and who love me, I now come.

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About JessicaHof
Anglican Christian, evangelist, survivor, grateful

26 Responses to St John: the last Apostle

  1. Great and sweet Poets (Victorian both), the Browning’s: Robert and Elizabeth Barrett! I kind of favor Elizabeth. 🙂 She spent most of her life, with Robert, living in Italy.

    Btw, *Cerinthus, Egyptian theologian (quoted in the Robert’s poem).

    Cerinthus, (flourished c. ad 100), Christian heretic whose errors, according to the theologian Irenaeus, led the apostle John to write his New Testament Gospel.

    Cerinthus was probably born a Jew in Egypt. Little is known of his life save that he was a teacher and founded a short-lived sect of Jewish Christians with Gnostic tendencies. He apparently taught that the world was created by angels, from one of whom the Jews received their imperfect Law. The only New Testament writing that Cerinthus accepted was the Gospel of Matthew. Cerinthus taught that Jesus, the offspring of Joseph and Mary, received Christ at his baptism as a divine power revealing the unknown Father. This Christ left Jesus before the Passion and the Resurrection. Cerinthus admitted circumcision and the sabbath and held a form of millenarianism. – Britannica Encyclopedia

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the Apostle John, and his “Johannine” spiritual Gospel! It must have been written after the Synoptics but still early? I am one that believes that the essence of the NT was written before 70 A.D., following the Anglican theologian, John A.T. Robinson ideas, see his book Redating the New Testament. Note the fall of Jerusalem is never mentioned in the NT writings, as a past fact! And of course this view contradicts many and most modern scholars.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Many surprises from this old eclectic ‘Irish Anglican’! 😉 Though I see myself as always “orthodox”!

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        • For the “theolog’s” out there, still one of my favorite commentaries of John, is the old standard by the Anglican, B.F. Westcott: The Gospel According To St. John, (The Authorized Version With Introduction And Notes, subtitle). Yes Westcott was always an Evangelical Anglican. And with F.J.A. (Fenton John Anthony) Hort both were Eminent Victorians! And Hort was born in Dublin btw, of course an Irish aristocratic Protestant family. This is often overlooked with Hort!

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          Yes, I like that one too.

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        • And finally, (then I will shut-up), I have a large Icon of St. John the Evangelist, Greek, early 17th century, photo Castle de Wijenburgh, Echied, Netherlands. Yes, one of my favorites. And I love Icons and iconography and iconology!

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          That sounds wonderful 😄

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        • the unit says:

          St. John: the last Apostle.
          Father Robert: the continuous Preacher. Keep going. 🙂

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      • JessicaHof says:

        Yes, I am with you on this – Robinson had some odd views, but here I think he was right.

        Liked by 1 person

    • JessicaHof says:

      Thank you Father 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, awesome there me lady Jessica! WE are tracking to some degree! 😉 And I too, am close to much of the best I feel in classic Anglicanism! Another book I like is old JND Kelly’s classic: Early Christian Doctrines! And I got to meet old Robinson before he died in 1983. And his book last book, published after he died, was The Priority of John. Put together from Robinson’s last finished draft and notes. When I met Robinson, I was in the full dress of my RMC uniform, and he was so impressed and gracious!

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        • JessicaHof says:

          I have r both the Kelly and the ‘Priority of John’ – how love,y to have met Robinson 😄

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        • Btw, impressed he was with the RMC dress uniform, I just filled it out. So cool that YOU like Robinson’s A.D. 70 position! Were rock’in together! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          We surely are ☺️

          Liked by 1 person

        • I wonder where NEO falls here? I believe too C.F.D. Moule fell here also: ‘It is hard to believe that a Judaistic type Christianity which had itself been closely involved in the cataclysm of the years leading up to A.D. 70 whould not have shown scars – or, alternatively, would not have made capital out of this signal evidence that they, and not non-Christian Judaism, were the true Israel. But in fact our traditions are silent.’

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          I have Moule sitting across from me! 🙂

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        • Oh my, we really are tracking! Old “Charlie” Moule, RIP! Lived to be almost 100 as I remember? (98?) He was preaching into the 1990’s! One of his students was the New Zealander, Graham Norman Stanton, died kind of young, at 69. (I’m closing, this next year on 67).- My times are in the Lord’s hand! So far I am doing well, save an old back! Hurt in an old parachute jump. I had over 100 jumps! And yes, I sure miss it! But NOT me wife! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          I was very much brought up in that Anglican tradition – although my daddy was no theist at all, he had a fine library from my grandfather which I used to ransack for good reading 🙂 I can see what your wife is happy about no more parachuting 🙂

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        • I think I spent more time in the library, at least until about 13, then I ran into girls, but they were also in the library! lol But I also loved to shoot shot-guns, and old side-by-side! I did not learn to parachute until the RMC’s, but after that I was air-borne! I did not quit even after I hurt my back, but as you note my wife and I had a meeting of the minds, and I lost! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          That last is often the secret to a good marriage 🙂 xx

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        • Yes, the man that loves his wife and family MUST learn to put them first! As a Christian this is hardly a duty, but the growth constant of love! And I love my wife and son’s more than words can express! I am a very blessed man! But my/our son’s are men now, and have flown the coupe! But they sometimes fly back in. Neither are yet married? (I also married later). And both are straight, thanks be to God!

          Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          There’s always time, and no need to rush for a man 🙂 xx Different for women – the old biological clock and all that.

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        • Yes, it would have been a disaster had I married younger, Christian or not! I was so busy chasing my own ways! And I admit I also chased a few girls in my time. But when one lands upon your own heart, she usually wins, and before ya look up, your in love! That has been my story since 1988! And our love now only grows, and both of us are ‘In Christ’! That is of course a major deal! The unequal biblical aspect must be honoured, and for the Christian’s benefit!

          Liked by 1 person

        • And yes, a woman’s beauty is always part of getting at a man’s heart as well as soul! God has made it that way! But, I also see older people, who are closer in age falling in love! Thanks be to God for the love of both a man and woman, together! It is always a gift!

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      • Btw too, A must read of Robinson, is his book: The Human Face Of God! I cannot follow him everywhere in the book, but it is well worth the read! (Written in 1973 as I remember?) I have two copies, the SCM Press, and the American, The Westminster Press.

        Liked by 1 person

        • JessicaHof says:

          I must try to get thst – thanks for the recommendation 😄

          Like

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