On the night of their wedding, Joseph revealed that they would need to skip town in the middle of the night to avoid detention and deportation, as he was an illegal immigrant. They walked through the dessert for weeks until Mary was too pregnant to go any further. They waited in the bushes on a farm until the candles were blown out inside and the coast was clear before they broke into a barn. There, in the midst of farm animals and hay, Mary gave birth to twin boys. They named the boys Jesus and Thomas, although it was evident that Thomas would probably not survive through the night.
Just as they suspected, Thomas had died by the time the sun came up. They had to quickly clean up and set back out onto the road before they were discovered trespassing in the barn. They buried Thomas in the desert sand and kept moving.
Joseph had always been a bit overprotective of Jesus. Joseph would periodically be visited in the dead of night by angels to deliver horrific messages. When Jesus was a baby, the three of them traveled around a lot because Joseph was convinced that the King was out to kill Jesus.
Joseph would pick up work as a carpenter here and there while Mary pan handled for loose change and stale bread. They were always broke and more often than not, they were homeless. Mary had a bit of a drinking problem and Joseph was busy with the voices in his own mind. Jesus never knew who his real dad was. For years he assumed, like any kid would, that Joseph was his father, but as he got older he noticed drastic differences in their appearances and personalities.
Jesus also never knew that he had a dead twin brother. His mom and stepdad never spoke about it. Jesus never knew to ask. Thomas, his twin brother was a quiet and lost chapter of Jesus’s history.
One of Jesus’s closest and earliest friends was his cousin John. Mary’s oldest sister was very old when she got pregnant. Some would say that John’s parents were unfairly too old to have a child. Only 6 months older than Jesus, John and Jesus got along great. Inevitably, John’s parents died when he was fairly young so Mary took him on as her own. John was as close to a twin brother as Jesus was going to get.
As kids on the street, Jesus and John would study the street performers from afar. They were amazed at the coins being left at the street performers feet after each act. Hungry for the attention and hungry for the food those coins promised, they began teaching themselves magic tricks. John realized quickly that Jesus was good at working a crowd. People gathered to see him perform, they laughed at his punch lines, they left him fistfuls of coins.
John was better at the management end of the whole thing. He would walk around town and pass the word of Jesus’s next performance. John was Jesus’s hype man. John and Jesus brought in enough extra coin to satisfy their growing boy hunger pains.
John and Jesus began hearing about a boy their age named Apollonius. Apollonius lived nearby in Syria and his street acts sounded dangerously close to Jesus’s. The boys began keeping close tabs on this Apollonius. For every trick Apollonius learned, they came up with something even more fantastic. Over time, they began getting word that Apollonius was performing acts of “Miracles.” Jesus was reluctant to take his street performances to that next level, but John insisted that it was necessary if they ever wanted to attain the level of celebrity that Apollonius had.
When he was old enough, John began traveling outside of the city limits to entice a wider audience about Jesus and to get a better idea of what kind of miracles this Apollonius character was working.
John discovered that Apollonius’s followers believed that he was born to a young virgin girl by the grace of God and after a life of service, he would be persecuted and murdered by the state only to be resurrected and sent to back heaven where he first came from. John was amazed at how many people he encountered actually believed this ridiculous story about Apollonius but began stealing pieces of it for Jesus’s back story.
John would tell crowds of people that God had sent him visions of a living prophet named Jesus. The masses were being prepped and getting ready to meet their new and improved messiah.
While John was away traveling, Jesus was finding himself in trouble on his own. In between his performances, he would pick fights with the other kids his age. He would brag to them that he had a secret strength and they better watch out because “there would be hell to pay for doubting him.” The worst of the fights was when Jesus pushed a kid off of the side of a roof for mocking him. The kid laid unconscious for a few moments as people gathered around him below. Luckily, for Jesus, the kid woke up and had minimal damage, considering his 3-story fall.
When John came back from his travels, he was horrified to hear of the mess Jesus was creating with his peers. He explained to Jesus that from now on, Jesus was to conduct himself as a public figure. No more fighting, no more tantrums. The two had a sort of “come to Jesus” moment if you will. John organized an elaborate ceremonious baptism for all of the people to come and watch.
Shortly after this, they decided that if they were to really take this act to the next level, they would need other people to be involved. Jesus and John held underground auditions for a small group of dedicated “disciples” as well as extras to ‘raise from the dead’ or ‘be cured from their blindness’.
John was particularly interested in the idea of Jesus having an unknown biological father. With this lack of actual information, they could create whatever story they wanted. He helped Jesus write a descriptive plot line to describe Jesus’s Father. Jesus’s biological father became a God to solidify the narrative of Jesus’s ability to perform miracles.
When Jesus’s mom realized how much money the boys were bringing in from their shows, she wanted to help. She showed them anything she deemed useful. She showed Jesus how to add a root powder to water to turn it into a liquor. “It’s like turning water into wine” She would say, before she would drink the mix and stumble her way back to her makeshift camp just outside of town.
Over the years, Jesus, John and the disciples turned their tricks into full on productions of holy miracles. The stories of Jesus’s mysterious father became more elaborate as time went on. More and more people began to show up to their performances. More and more people began to believe the stories about his father. Word about Jesus spread around, and people began traveling from all over the middle east to meet him.
The word of Apollonius began to die down and eventually he no one even recognized his name anymore. He, just like the twin brother Thomas, was lost in the shadows of Jesus’s story.
Eventually John became caught up in some illegal side business activities. He was arrested and sent to jail. Jesus felt overwhelmed at the prospect of carrying on alone and often found himself making things up as he went.
One night, the disciples and Jesus hiked up a mountain and ate mushrooms. The disciples collectively decided that maybe Jesus was really the prophetic son of God that they had all been pretending him to be after all. Jesus was nervous even at the idea of this and he began thinking of the implications of posing as a God. The punishment would be death. Needless to say, he had a bad trip.
The next day, Jesus tried convincing the disciples that he was not really the actual Son of God, but they had convinced themselves. They began treating Jesus as if he really was a King of the Jews. The lines between real and fake were blurred, and without John around, Jesus eventually too began to lose sight of reality. It wasn’t such an awful feeling for Jesus to believe that he was something special.
In every city that they traveled to, Jesus had pre-paid actors set up along the route. These men and women were instructed to fake illness until receipt of Jesus’s healing hands. Increasingly often, unpaid strangers began grabbing at Jesus’s clothes. People with the devil in their souls were being cured, a woman with a bleeding illness was cured. Even Jesus was quietly amazed at the healing power of pure hope that he provided to these people.
The King of Israel at the time was a man who loved the ladies. He would often hire young girls to come to his room and play out his taboo fantasies for him. The king had been chastised by his staff for using corporate funds to pay for these encounters, so he had built a trade system with the girls. He would do them a favor for every favor they did for him. One young girl requested the beheading of a specific prisoner who had robbed and raped her mother. She requested the King deliver the severed head to her on a platter so that she could take it to her mother as proof of his death. The King was a little squeamish by the request but also slightly turned on by it. He ordered the beheading of the prisoner, who happened to be Jesus’s John.
When Jesus received the news that John had been killed, he was out-ragged, and heart broken. He began spouting off about the King during his performances. “A rich man will never enter into the kingdom of heaven” he would say. He slowly turned his followers into enemies of the state.
One day very soon after John’s death, all of the disciples and Jesus rented out a luxury boat to have a celebration of another lucrative and successful year. The people in the town heard that they were all out on the boat and began to gather at the shore line. They chanted for Jesus to come out and make a speech. With a belly full of expensive wine and rich food and heart heavy with loss, Jesus stood on the deck of the boat and began telling non sensical stories. The people listened in silence and confusion as he rambled on. The disciples stood behind him, concerned for the mental state that Jesus was in.
Once he had finished, he went and sat alone in the back of the boat. One of the disciples approached Jesus and said “Jesus, I am sorry, but we are all a little confused on what you said to those people. What was the meaning in all of those stories you told?” Jesus said, “I do not need followers who listen to every word that I say as truth but rather people who will me follow regardless of my message.” And then Jesus grabbed the disciple by the back of the head and forced the man’s head over the side of the boat into the water. He held it there as the disciple struggled to come up for air.
The other disciples were now gathering around and looking back and forth to one another with fear in their eyes. Jesus turned to address the other disciples “Do you men not have faith in me anymore?” After a long moment he lifted the struggling disciple’s head from the water. “Do you not have faith in me anymore?” Jesus shouted into his face “Did you think I would just let you drown? Where has your faith gone, my friends?” And with that Jesus got up and walked away from all of them. No one spoke another word on the way back into port but they all knew that a dangerous corner had just been turned.
Jesus knew he was getting himself into big trouble with the King. His entire operation had long ago gotten out of hand and he knew eventually he would pay for it. He had been warned that the police in Jerusalem had a warrant out for his arrest and if caught, they could give him the death penalty for blasphemy. Jesus was on a war path and didn’t care. He decided to travel to Jerusalem anyway.
The night that Jesus and his disciples snuck in to the city without detection, Jesus was relieved but knew it would be short lived. It was only a matter of time before the police found out that he was in town. He decided to throw one last party in case it was his last. He and his disciples had a lavish dinner party with all of the wine, food and drugs they could get their hands on. As the night went on, Jesus began accusing the disciples of ratting him out to the police. “I know one of you will sell me out” Jesus was yelling at the men. They all denied it vehemently and reminded him how much they loved him. He wasn’t buying it. He was convinced that someone was going to betray him. He was belligerent and angry at everyone in the room.
The next morning, one of the disciples decided he had had enough of Jesus. Judas, the disgruntled disciple woke up early and went straight to the police station. Judas told the police that for a price, he would bring Jesus in to town and point out who he was by giving him a kiss.
Judas went back to the hotel and waited until everyone was awake. He suggested they try their luck even further and go into the city. He suggested they try the new restaurant that served bottomless mimosas and cage free lamb. He knew Jesus could not resist a mimosa brunch.
Judas insisted on sitting next to his friend Jesus at the restaurant. After a few rounds of mimosas, Judas grabbed Jesus by the cheeks and kissed him on the lips. The police came rushing in, tackled Jesus from behind and put him in a chokehold until he nearly suffocated. Luckily for Jesus, his skin was a few shades lighter than the rest, so he did not die there and then.
The police took him in to the station and he was tried in front of the judge. Just as he had suspected, he received the death penalty for his crimes and was carried away to the garden before his execution. This is where he would be allowed to say his final goodbyes to his friends and family before he would be lead to the “place of skulls”.
He waited in the Garden as his disciples came to comfort him, with the exception of Judas of course. Then one by one they left him. Only one disciple named Paul remained. Paul was one of the few disciples that still remembered the whole thing originally started as a small-town performance act. Jesus sat on the ground and wrapped his arms around his knees. “Jesus, if you would just tell them it was a hoax they might not execute you.” Paul pleaded with Jesus.
“I know what I have done is wrong but maybe the people will have hope because of me. Maybe some good can come out of this after all? Don’t ever tell them it was a lie, Paul. Please keep spreading the message when I am gone. Remind people about me and maybe people will be better to each other because of it. When I am gone, no one has to know that it wasn’t true. Maybe you can move my body in a few days and say that I was taken home to my father. The bastard has no idea the name I gave to him. I know there is nothing waiting for me on the other end of this life but maybe if people can believe that there is, it would have all been worth it.”
Jesus was then greeted by soldiers and lead him to his death spot. People spat on him and yelled at him as he walked by. He took it silently because he knew better than they did that he deserved it. As he was nailed to the cross and began to slowly die, he shouted “Father, why have you forsaken me?”
At first just a tiny whisper in his ear, he heard a distant voice “Dear Jesus, thank you for the strength to carry on one more day.” He felt a wash of comfort through his trembling body. He had been used as a symbol for hope for generations to come. Another voice whispered into his ear “Thank you Jesus, for your sacrifice”
He barely noticed the warm blood dripping down his arms anymore as the prayers began flooding his brain “Thank you Jesus for sacrificing your life for my sins” “Thank you Jesus for giving me strength to live another day” He almost felt himself relax against the nails in his body “Thank you Jesus for getting me on time to work today” “Thank you for giving the gay kid in my class cancer”
Jesus began to panic. The messages became increasingly grim. He tried to turn them off. “O.k. let me die now in peace” he begged the voices, but they kept coming. “Jesus, please give me the strength today to detonate the bomb in front of the abortion clinic. I know this is your will. I have faith in you.” “Jesus, please forgive me for killing the entire Indian village. I have faith that it was your will to do so” “Jesus, thank you for your forgiveness for raping those children and giving me a second chance in life” “Jesus, please help me find a parking space tonight”
An endless loop of prayers flooded into Jesus’s ears. Some of them were beautiful but most of them were justifications of violence and hate in his name or they were over trivial things. He felt as if he was just moments away from eternal silence, but the sounds of the prayers kept playing in his head. He was left dangling from the cross just a moment from death with the whispers of thousands of years-worth of prayers playing on a loop in his ear.