Devotional Thoughts: Judas betrayal and Gospel of Judas

Am looking at Matthew 26:47-56 this morning.

I hope readers are not offended by my paraphrases of the passages in my blogging! I include the link above to the text so readers can check it out to see if my summary is a fair one.

The religious leaders of the day set their plan in motion and sent their rent-a-mob to capture Jesus. Since the mob doesn't know what Jesus looks like, Judas signals them by greeting Jesus with a kiss. They seize Jesus. Peter tries to fight back but Jesus tells him to put the sword away. Jesus says, he could call upon the angels to rescue him but this is all happening to fulfill the prophecies.

After this incident, eventually, we find out that Judas overwhelmed with guilt hangs himself.

The recently translated Gospel of Judas has a different and somewhat murky tale of Jesus telling Judas various things between the Last Supper and the Betrayal.

The Gospel of Judas belongs to a collection of writings from the Gnostic religion. This belief system says one needs special knowledge for salvation because the material/physical world is evil and that we need that special knowledge to attain to a higher spiritual realm. This kind of thinking has existed for a long time and can be seen in part in Buddhist and Hindu thought.

In any case, in the Gospel of Judas, Jesus tells Judas various things about how things are the way they really are. Excerpt:
Jesus said, “The souls of every human generation will die. When these people, however, have completed the time of the kingdom and the spirit leaves them, their bodies will die but their souls will be alive, and they will be taken up.”
There are many views on the afterlife: there is none, reincarnation where souls enter new bodily forms after death, immortality of the soul after the body dies and bodily resurrection. Jewish and Christian theology believes in bodily resurrection where the soul in immortal and that it will inhabit a new body after death. Gnostics belong in the immortality of the soul grouping as seen in that excerpt.

Later on in the Gospel of Judas, we see this:
“A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. The Self-Generated said, [48] ‘Let [...] come into being [...],’ and it came into being [...]. And he [created] the first luminary to reign over him. He said, ‘Let angels come into being to serve [him],’ and myriads without number came into being. He said, ‘[Let] an enlightened aeon come into being,’ and he came into being. He created the second luminary [to] reign over him, together with myriads of angels without number, to offer service.
And it goes on and on like this for many paragraphs.

So why does Judas betray Jesus according to the Gospel of Judas? Excerpt:
But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.
When Jesus dies, he gets to return to that heavenly realm he just spent many paragraphs describing.

As you can see, the Gospel of Judas really belongs to a different religious world view even though it claims Jesus Christ.

In Christian theology, Jesus dies on the Cross to pay for our sins. In Jewish-Christian theology, God is indeed a spirit but also the Creator of the material/physical world who calls it, very good. Thus, Jesus' mission is restoration not enlightenment to escape the world. That is why historically Christians have been in the forefront and continue to strive to this day to make a difference in the world by opening hospitals, running orphanages, setting up schools, delivering food and medical aid relief, etc.

Christians may have their treasure in heaven but we believe we need to make a difference in the here and now!!

Lord, thank you for being the Savior who has come to restore us for we have fallen. Help Christians point the way to the Cross and back to you. For those who have not entered into the family of faith yet, may they not be confused by the Gnostic ideas and any number of other ideas that run around in the world. Help me and my fellow Christians to live worthy lives so that we may win the opportunity to share Jesus with people. Amen.

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