Judas*

From Matthew 26 & 27 (you know the story):

Then one of the twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?”

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”

Then Jesus went…to a place called Gethsemane…Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

From a different story (one you probably didn’t hear):

Each one of you plays the hero in your own story, but chances are you’ve also been assigned the role of villain once or twice in someone else’s story, perhaps without even realizing it.  Now imagine if that story — not your story — were the only story to survive…

Jesus warned me this would happen. He said, “You shall be cursed for generations…but you will come to rule over them. You will exceed all of them, for you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”  Jesus was a great man…but Matthew? Matthew was a liar. Well…he did get a few things right.

The bit about the 30 pieces of silver is true enough. I did go to the Pharisees. We did agree on a price. Do you really think our plan would have worked if I’d said “Jesus sent me to you because he wants to turn himself in, and he wants you to kill him.”  No.  Jesus was right.  The only language the Pharisees understand is money. And they bought our story—hook, line, and sinker.

Now the last supper…you should have seen the look on the other disciples’ faces when Jesus said “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” Who hadn’t dipped their hands in that bowl that night? They really scrambled to get themselves off the hook, each loudly protesting his innocence.  But is that what a true friend does? Clear his own name when he’s most needed? Jesus meant it when he said “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” But I wish you could have seen his eyes…his eyes looked right at me, and they said, “I’m sorry, my friend, for what they’re going to put you through in my name.”

He called me friend one last time after that. It was in the Garden, when I brought the chief priests and the elders to arrest him. The sign was pre-arranged, but not between the Pharisees and me. If all that was needed was an identifying sign, I could have just said, “The one I slap is the man; arrest him.”  No.  A kiss is how you say goodbye to someone you love. It was our sign, our plan.  But Jesus must have seen in my eyes the doubt and uncertainty.  Could I go through with it?  What kind of friend… Even in obedience… Calmly — Reassuringly — Compassionately — Jesus looked at me one last time and said, “Do what you came for…friend.”

Of course I gave the money back to the Pharisees. What need had I, or Jesus ever had for money? I wasn’t seized with remorse, though, and I didn’t hang myself. Didn’t I tell you Matthew was a liar? The disciples never understood Jesus while he was alive. Why would any reasonable person assume that would suddenly change after he died? It didn’t.

Jesus was my friend, and he sacrificed his life for me. Was it too much to ask that I sacrifice my name, my story for him?

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*Written for my Intro to Speech class.  The assignment was to retell a biblical story in your own words…or someone else’s.


Comments

Judas* — 2 Comments

  1. I was touched by this story; got a little choked up, even. And I imagine it took courage to write it. You called a biblical writer a liar!

    I admit I imagined a different ending. I could see him hanging himself anyway, out of doubt and fear after the fact. Still, I loved your retelling. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Neal
    Thanks for this retelling. I was thinking that Judas could not have hanged himself if it is true that he wrote the “Gospel of Judas” after Christ’s death and resurrection. There were numerous “Gospels” written and we probably got the best 4 of them but doesnt really discount the hundreds of others who had a story to tell about our Lord.

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