God’s Healing Embrace in Crucifying Times
[A Palm Sunday Sermon]
by the Reverend J. Edwin Bacon, Jr.,
All Saints Church, Pasadena
The Christian Faith invites us to contemplate the crucifixion of Jesus for one full week every year – a holy week of seeking the meaning of the cross for our life. I have serious questions about two traditions of meaning and want to offer a third meaning for our times.
The media have been full of one meaning of Jesus’ execution this past week through articles and TV programs about the discovery of the Gospel of Judas. The meaning that the Gospel of Judas elucidates for Jesus’ crucifixion comes from a belief central to Gnostic religious practice – that death was an opportunity for people to escape the prisons of their material bodies and return to the spiritual realm from which they came. The account in the Gospel of Judas relates that Jesus refers to the other disciples, telling Judas "you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus. (NYTimes article)
Elaine Pagels, a professor of religion at Princeton who specializes in studies of the Gnostics, said in a statement, "These discoveries are exploding the myth of a monolithic religion, and demonstrating how diverse — and fascinating — the early Christian movement really was." (NYTimes op-ed piece, April 8, 2006) I agree with Professor Pagels that now is a time when we need to have some fresh air breathed into our understanding that Christianity never was and cannot be now a monolithic religion where everyone believed the same thing about Jesus.
Read it all on the Claiming the Blessing website