discovery and the publication of the Gospel of Judas is not
a sensational event if we but
examine it based on the common understanding of Christian
tradition. For it is quite comfortable to regard this
document as a heresy or perhaps call it
"magnanimously" an interesting Apocrypha in the spirit
of Gnostic mysticism. But then the discussion on this
priceless material, at best, is reduced to the idea of the
rehabilitation of Judas as a faithful disciple giving Jesus
away to the Jewish authorities upon the request of his
Master. Thus the real meaning of this controversial gospel
escapes us entirely. For its value lies in reminding
ourselves what Jesus really taught. And this is indeed
Very few realize
how revolutionary Jesus' message really is. It challenges
the dualistic way of thinking and demonstrates the Singular
Reality beyond the illusion of human existence. Both the
Gospel of Judas and the New Testament are in perfect accord
in this regard. Yet the Gospel of Judas exposes certain
aspects of Jesus' teachings that have been misinterpreted or
simply overlooked. Let us look together at some examples:
Meaning of Salvation
People believe in
the existence of an objective evil, an outside world that
they have to defend themselves against. Jesus knowing the
utter absurdity of this kind of thinking, instructs us in
His Sermon on the Mount: Resist not evil. (Matthew
5,39) The way from Gethsemane to the cross is the best
demonstration of defenselessness. Jesus could easily defy
His torturers and yet He chose the way of crucifixion
consciously (the agreement with Judas described in the book
of Apocrypha only confirms it) in order to demonstrate that
even the most vicious assault - as humans judged it - could
not affect His own Eternal Reality. He demonstrated that He
could not be attacked, because He is not a body and His
Kingdom is not of this world!
According to the newly published gospel, Judas was the only
one that understood his Master and that is why he was placed
above the other disciples and asked specifically to
sacrifice the man that clothed Jesus. This unusual request,
unveiled by the Gospel of Judas, reveals the redemptive
meaning of the way of the cross. It lies solely in the
release from limitation that occurs through losing one's
human self in the Divine Christ Identity. It is not
suffering and death that brings about salvation but a change
of Jesus' mind whereby he ultimately gives up the attachment
to physical persona and unites with God. Jesus often states
in the Gospel of Judas that no mortal being can enter the
Kingdom. Therefore the key to Heaven must lie in the act of
resurrection (although the Gospel of Judas does not mention
it), not through death but through radical transformation,
as admonished by Jesus in His conversation with Nicodemus:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born
again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God.
The Gospel of Judas debunks a myth of betrayal of Jesus and
the belief in condemnation of Judas that have been cherished
throughout the centuries. However, we do not really need the
new gospel to fulfill Jesus' commandment: Love your
enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you. (Matthew 5,44) We do not need the Gospel
of Judas in order to understand that Jesus could not have
been betrayed. He simply did not believe in betrayal and
therefore He could not have condemned Judas, for it would
contradict His teaching of love and forgiveness: Judas
was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the
Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him
when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is
(A Course In
Miracles, Text, Chapter 6)
Jesus from the Gospel of Judas often laughs at the human
conception of reality and He is aware that even His own
disciples do not understand Him. For they believe in the
false god - creator of this world. They do not know the real
God because He creates only the unlimited, the invisible and
the eternal. One might say that the cosmology of Jesus in
the Gospel of Judas is only a reflection of the Gnostic
beliefs of those who scribed the gospel. And what if Jesus
really thought that way? What if indeed the world we see has
nothing to do with reality? Perhaps Jesus really meant what
he said: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must
worship him in spirit and in truth... (John 4, 24)
this is so then the whole human existence of pain, suffering
and death ceases to make any sense and all religious
doctrines must crumble. Yes, indeed, the message of Jesus is
very dangerous for the world because it assures us that only
the eternal happiness, joy and peace are real, and moreover,
they can be attained right here and right now. There is only
one condition: Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5,48). In
the Gospel of Judas Jesus challenges His disciples in the
same manner inviting them to bring out the perfect human in
them because this is the only way they can stand up in front
of Him. He does not refer to the perfection of personality
but the physical transformation into a spiritual perfection.
Only then will we be able to see the Christ that is our true
that is of course if we are brave enough...
Thursday, just before Palm Sunday, the New York Times
reported the release of a remarkable document, Gospel of
Judas. This early Christian manuscript surfaced after 1700
years, discovered in the desert of Egypt. The script was
written on 13 sheets of papyrus, both front and back. The
manuscript was a mess of more than 1,000 brittle fragments.
Beginning in 2001, four scholars undertook the Herculean
task of assembling and arranging the papyrus fragments. A
consensus English translation appears in the book, The
Gospel of Judas (National Geographic, 2006).
I found that reading the Gospel is demanding and rewarding.
It is demanding because words, lines, and portions of the
text are missing. In the 26 pages of the text, there are 150
footnotes. Jesus speaks to his disciples using metaphors
grounded in Gnosticism and ancient Jewish wisdom unfamiliar
And yet, reading it is rewarding because listening to Jesus
speak in the script, I can hear the same tender, loving
Voice that I hear every day while reading his unworldly
masterpiece, A Course
In Miracles. Although
in time, it appears that the two manuscripts are separated
by almost 2000 years, in truth Jesus' Voice is eternal.
As I listened to his
Voice in the Gospel, I simply allowed the words to wash over
me, and I found that I connected in three places in
The first time Jesus appears before his disciples, he
"laughed." Now that got my attention.
One day he was with his disciples in Judea, and he found
them gathered together and seated in pious observance. When
he approached his disciples, gathered together and seated
and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, he
laughed. (Gospel, pp.
Jesus knew that they were following their will, not God's,
although they piously, or dutifully, appeared to be doing
God's will. In the Introduction to the book, an editor,
Marvin Meyer, comments.
In the Gospel of Judas, unlike the New Testament
gospels, Jesus laughs a great deal. He laughs at the foibles
of the disciples and the absurdities in human life.
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explore the Gospels
The second connection occurs while Jesus talking to Judas
laughs and says to him, "You thirteenth spirit."
By this Jesus means that Judas was excluded from the circle
of the twelve because his true identity is spiritual. Judas'
will and God's will are one. Not mine but Thine.
Finally, Jesus says to Judas, "But you will exceed all
of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me."
(p.43) Judas is
instructed by Jesus to help him by sacrificing the fleshly
body, "the man" that bears the true spiritual self of Jesus.
The editor comments:
Judas finally betrays Jesus in the Gospel of Judas, but
he does so knowingly, and at the sincere request of Jesus.
Jesus is a savior not because of the mortal flesh that he
wears but because he can reveal the soul or spiritual person
who is within, and the true home of Jesus is not this
imperfect world below but the divine world of light and
life. For Jesus in the Gospel of Judas, death is not
tragedy, nor is it a necessary evil to bring about the
forgiveness of sins. Death, as the exit from this absurd
physical existence, is not to be feared or dreaded. Far from
being an occasion of sadness, death is the means by which
Jesus is liberated from the flesh in order that he might
return to his heavenly home, and by betraying Jesus, Judas
helps his friend discard his body and free his inner self,
the divine self. (pp. 4-5)
And from His heavenly home, Jesus now speaks to us today.
I could not have said, "Betrayest thou the Son of
Man with a kiss?" unless I believed in betrayal. The whole
message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The
"punishment" I was said to have called forth upon Judas was
a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as
much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I
would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that
condemnation is impossible?
In Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and
Her Scribing of A Course in Miracles (1991), Kenneth Wapnick
reports that on October 2, 1976, Helen asked Jesus this
question, "Was there a physical resurrection?"
This is His answer.
My body disappeared because I had no illusion about it.
The last one had gone. It was laid in the tomb, but there
was nothing left to bury. It did not disintegrate because
the unreal cannot die. It merely became what it always was.
And that is what "rolling the stone away " means. The body
disappears, and no longer hides what lies beyond. It merely
ceases to interfere with vision. To roll the stone away is
to see beyond the tomb, beyond death, and to understand the
body's nothingness. What is understood as nothing must
I did assume a human form with human attributes afterwards,
to speak to those who were to prove the body's worthlessness
to the world. This has been much misunderstood. I came to
tell them that death is illusion, and the mind that made the
body can make another since form itself is an illusion. They
did not understand. But now I talk to you and give you the
same message. The death of an illusion means nothing. It
disappears when you awaken and decide to dream no more. And
you still do have the power to make this decision as I did.
God holds out His hand to His Son to help him rise and
return to Him. I can help because the world is illusion, and
I have overcome the world. Look past the tomb, the body, the
illusion. Have faith in nothing but the spirit and the
guidance God gives you. He could not have created the body
because it is a limit. He must have created the spirit
because it is immortal. Can those who are created like Him
be limited? The body is the symbol of the world. Leave it
behind. It canot enter Heaven. But I can take you there any
time you choose. Together we can watch the world disappear
and its symbol vanish as it does so. And then and then--I
cannot speak of that.
A body cannot stay without illusion, and the last one to be
overcome is death. This is the message of the crucifixion.
There is no order of difficulty in miracles. This is the
message of the resurrection. Illusions are illusions. Truth
is true. Illusions vanish. Only truth remains.
These lessons needed to be taught but once, for when the
stone of death is rolled away, what can be seen except an
empty tomb? And that is what you see who follow me into the
sunlight and away from death, past all illusions, on to
Heaven's gate, where God will come Himself to take you home.
(Absence from Felicity, pp.
He is risen. He is risen, indeed.
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