Bringing the Text to Life

Judas Our Hero? John 13:21-32

Judas Our Hero?

In contrast to John’s assertion that Judas betrayed Jesus because the devil made him do it, a non-canonical gospel almost as old as the New Testament itself claims that Judas acted because Jesus made him do it.

“Jesus made me do it.”

Imagine that as an excuse for some mess you have created or for some unseemly thing you’ve done.

Not that most people would buy it of course, but you’ve got to admit, blaming your outrageous or even harmful action on Jesus is better than acknowledging that it was the fruit of your own flawed character or, even darker, that the devil had a hand in it. Being “Jesus possessed” even has a saintly ring to it.

The claim that “Jesus made me do it” is, in effect, what an ancient document called the Gospel of Judas attempts to do for the great betrayer. Just before Palm Sunday last year, the National Geographic Society announced that it was publishing an ancient Egyptian text by that name. The manuscript from which the society’s edition is drawn has been established to be about 1,700 years old and is believed to be a copy of an even older original. We know that because in A.D. 180, Irenaeus mentioned the Gospel of Judas ...

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