What Would Judas Do?

Holy Week begins on Sunday. The dramatic narrative will all begin as we journey together into Jerusalem. We will celebrate Jesus' triumphant arrival into the city to begin the story that offers us hope as Christians. But, with all of this joy and celebration, there are a lot of dark moments in this story after this arrival. There is a dark evening meal shared by a small group of friends in an upper room. There is betrayal. There is a brutal death. There is judgment and sentencing that still manages to encourage Christians to point fingers at the guilty.

Maybe it's because we don't know how to talk about betrayal. Maybe we don't know how to understand that gap between humanity and the divine. So we point fingers and we blame others. Maybe we are trying to make sense out of something impossible. We blame the Jews. We blame Judas. And sometimes, we even blame ourselves. Perhaps we even blame ourselves as Judas. Perhaps we are able to relate to this betrayal in some way.

But, do we really know Judas story? The story in the gospels is confusing. John tells us that Judas is to blame. He is the one that sets the whole story in motion. Scholars have argued about Judas' choice, if he indeed had one. Scholars will continue to argue about whether or not the story needed to end this way. How else do we get to Easter? How else can we grasp the amazing connection that we have to God? And yet, our Jewish brothers and sisters knew this all along. But, I digress.

Maybe we will get the story straight. It appears on the New York Times coverpage today: the Gospel of Judas has been discovered. Apparently, the text reveals the confusing nature of this betrayal. Jesus Christ Superstar hinted to the fact that Judas shared an intimate connection to Jesus. Perhaps if we read our canonical gospels, we might find this same connection. Perhaps we might read John differently. Perhaps the Beloved Disciple and Judas are not polar opposites. Perhaps they each shared the intimate connection of lying on Jesus' chest. Maybe it happened for Judas at another meal. Maybe we want to make a fluid story. Or worse, perhaps we are too eager to paint a clear picture of evil. Satan enters Judas at this meal in John. Evil becomes manifest and we develop a bad guy. Sadly, we have just accepted Judas as a bad guy.

Maybe today that will change. The article in the New York Times suggests, "The Gospel of Judas portrays Judas Iscariot not as a betrayer of Jesus, but as his most favored disciple and willing collaborator." Perhaps we will learn to ask what would Judas do. Maybe this will make us better Christians. Maybe we will no longer accept evil. Maybe we will challenge our own judgments.

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