4-12-17 - Holy Wednesday: Judas

Each day this week we will hear from one of the main characters in the Holy Week story, as I imagine they might speak. I hope this will help engage your own imagination as you walk this story with Jesus.

Judas Iscariot: I know, I’m the bad guy in all this. “How could you do it?” they all ask. And he asked… “With a kiss? Did you have to betray me with a symbol of love and friendship?” But what did he want? He as good as made me do it – he said, at dinner, “What you have to do, do it quickly.” He knew. I’m just a pawn in all this. But no one’s going to understand that, are they? I’m the bad guy. The one.

You’re wondering why I would betray him, why betray someone who showed me so much love and acceptance. But, you see, it wasn’t about him. In the end it couldn’t be about him – it had to be about the work, right? Feeding the poor, empowering the weak, kicking out the Romans. Revolution.

“The Kingdom of God is coming,” he said. Bring it on! We had that parade into Jerusalem and the crowd was all worked up, shouting hosanna. That must have given the Romans a thing to think about. Then he kicked butt up at the temple, giving it to those collaborationist Jewish leaders … it was great.

But then he slowed down again – telling these weird stories that hardly made sense. We were wasting so much time. And there was the thing at that dinner in Bethany, where this woman, Mary, emptied like a whole bottle of really expensive perfumed oil on his head. We could have fed a whole village for a month with what that cost! But he defended her. “She’s preparing me for death,” he said, like that was supposed to make sense. All this death stuff all the time, and he wasn’t even fighting it.

All of a sudden he thought he was more important than the poor? I mean, he was completely out of touch. What was I supposed to do, sit back and watch the whole think unravel? We need a revolution. We need justice. I couldn’t just turn my back on…

But I don’t expect you to understand. And you should know – I gave the money back!

So, who is Judas? Traitor? Zeolot? Freedom fighter? God’s patsy? Can you relate to him on any level?

Today, let’s pray for the Judases in our lives, and in ourselves. If we have free will, so do they… and wholeness must be possible for them too.

For a beautiful take on Judas that emphasizes the enormity of God’s grace, listen to U2’s “Until the End of the World,” which imagines a conversation between Jesus and Judas. Concert version; Official video (clearer lyrics, dumber visuals…) 


  1. So, who is Judas? Traitor? Zeolot? Freedom fighter? God’s patsy? Can you relate to him on any level?

    Yes, Judas was indeed a Zealot. He might have felt he was doing the right thing for Israel by defusing political tension. Keep the Romans from sweeping in and taking over from the Jewish rulers.

    Ever notice the different treatment by the synoptics? Judas gets a bad rap in the gospel of John. It's easy to blame Judas in hindsight and the gospel accounts were all written in hindsight. Maybe John had a personal grudge.


  2. Good insight, as always, Kirk - Judas deserves a more nuanced treatment than he often gets. But that's also a major fault line in human nature and community -those who are willing to see the shades of grey, the reasons why someone might have developed or been driven to vile behaviors, and those who prefer to think some people are good and some bad.

  3. Hi Kate.

    Clarence Jordan developed a detailed analysis of Judas' quandry. I might still have a recording of Clarence on cassette tape and Koinonia Farm put out a recording on vinyl (in the day) that is still available on eBay.

    The idea I remember best is the role of Zealots. Clarence frames Judas as a political activist who co-operated with temple leaders for the sake of the nation of Israel.

    Faith, hope love.