And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. (Mark 11)
The ‘Jesus Papers’, a book probably spawned by the success of, and of the same ilk as, ‘The De Vince Code’, and now the discovery of the ‘Gospel of Judas’ where Judas is a cunning conspirator, not against but with Jesus, are always, coincidently, harbingers of Easter.
I admit that I used to get all exercised about what I perceived, I think correctly, as attacks upon Christianity. But I look at things differently these days. As well, I try not to dismiss anything of historical value. ‘Take nothing for granted’, is still a good approach. There are things we can learn from the recasting of a story, perhaps especially an ancient recasting of a biblical character. Like Dan Brown and Michael Baigent of the Jesus Papers, the Gnostic author of the Judas gospel was motivated by a need to tell a story in a particular way. He had his reasons to do so and for me, the motivation is what fascinates. That’s because while these authors are sceptical if not hostile to the gospel, they are nevertheless bound up in the gospel. Their skepticism or hostility assures their tie-in. They may even have a kind of unconscious faith in the gospel. In some form they remain spellbound by Christ.
I have no idea how this could be proved, it but I think humanity is spellbound by Christ. Speaking in broad terms, is it possible that in this disrobed age the hard work at rendering Christ irrelevant exposes a fixation? Are we as a global culture in our most Christ-dependent state?
It’s fun to poke at the edges of these questions. Still, there is no denying that Jesus has a polarizing effect on those he encounters. Once encountered, no one is able to ignore Jesus.
Some take their positive “spellboundness” on the road and care for the poor, spread hope and set people free. Others are compelled to be skeptical and mythologize the gospel story while trying to retain a moral message. Still others recoil and find ways to fictionalize the Easter story beyond recognition, not recognizing that the more hostile they are to Christ, the more bound to him they are. If this is the case, perhaps even, or especially, a chief priest may find, as C.S. Lewis did, that at the end of a violent antagonism toward God, is an ocean of love.