Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reading the Gospel of Judas IV: Judas the Apostle

That the Gospel of Judas is ascribed to Judas already alerts the reader to specific things. To understand those things, we need to understand who Judas was. 

The name Judas is simply the Greek version of Hebrew Judah.

Judas was called as an apostle (Matthew 10:4), given power to heal sickness and cast out demons (Matthew 10:1), and sent forth to preach the gospel (Matthew 10:5), which he did.

Judas must have had some real financial capacity. After all, he was the one who held the bag and was in charge of the finances of Jesus and the twelve apostles (John 12:6; 13:29). Of the other apostles, we know that Peter was a successful fisherman and owned his own boat (Luke 5:4); so Peter had been successful in his own business. Matthew, presumably the same as Levi, was a tax collector (Matthew 10:3; Luke 5:27-32) who made a living accounting for the government’s, other people’s, and his own money. In spite of this, Judas had the bag and charge of the finances for the group.

Judas also had some weaknesses, which the other apostles did as well. He wanted to be important and in charge. He wanted to be the greatest (Matthew 18:1-6; 20:20-29; 23:1-12). He did not approve of some of the things that Jesus did and found fault with them (John 12:3-6). These faults were and are not uncommon among mortals. Judas shared many of the same faults as his fellow-apostles. In spite of any of his short-comings, Judas was an apostle. He was a leader in Jesus’s church. Even up to Jesus’s last supper, none of the twelve thought Judas as anything different than the rest of them, neither better nor worse. Judas was simply one of them.

That is why Judas could not melt into mere mediocrity.