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My Self, My God

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From The Gospel of Thomas (NHC II, 2): Jesus said, “If those who lead you say to you, ‘See, the kingdom is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you.  If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty and it is you who are that poverty.”

The Gospel of Thomas is a collection of traditional sayings attributed to Jesus. Most scholars agree that the remarks in The Gospel of Thomas are preserved in a more original form than the parallel quotes in the canonical gospels. Some of The Gospel of Thomas seems to have influenced The Gospel of John in the Second Testament. Either way, Jesus proclaims some very gnostic ideas: God is within. We must first know ourselves if we are to intimately know God.

In Luke …

Esoteric Jesus

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Welcome to Esoteric Advent! This season, we’re exploring the mystical side of Jesus, both his teachings and his birth story. To do so, we’re using many of the texts found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in the 1940s. These nearly-lost Coptic papyri are from a number of different Gnostic schools, all of them focused on esoteric teachings. A great number of them are specifically Christian in nature. The Nag Hammadi codices remind us that early Christianity was imaginative, inventive, and multi-faceted. Most importantly, they are exceptionally spiritual in nature.

Esoteric means “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people.” The Gnostics didn’t think Jesus’ message was intended for a small number of people. Rather, they knew that his message was (and remains) a teaching that’s difficult to understand and too easy to interpret literally.

Jesus' remark in in Luke 8:9-10 describes the Gnostic's point of view perfectly:

Luke 8:9-10 (CEV): Jesus’ disciples asked him w…