one of you will betray me

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

Jesus was not the hero of Empires and kingdoms and nations and states – Jesus was the underdog – the hero of the poor, the disenfranchised, the rejected, those on the fringes of thinking, believing and living. . Jesus ministered to Jews and Gentiles, the clean and the unclean. Jesus came for the lost. One of the biggest challenges I find in the Easter story is – what happened with Judas? Wasn’t Judas exactly who Jesus came for – the lost? One full of doubts and questions, and uncertainties? One who is imperfectly human and full of faults? Isn’t this exactly the kind of person that Jesus came to be with?

Isn’t this exactly the kind of person that Jesus’ opponents were looking to seduce and corrupt so that they could capture Jesus? Someone who was on the verge of breaking – if they could only push them over the edge….

“Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. “

Judas – one of the twelve, hand picked by Jesus, at the beginning of his ministry. They lived and worked together for three years – I bet that some of the 12 knew that Judas was skimming off the top of the community purse. and yet he was still the keeper of that purse for the group. Probably every time Simon Peter voiced his doubts Judas could have said the same things, and more. Judas probably wrestled with the same kinds of thoughts as James and John, the sons of thunder, and their request to sit one at Jesus’ right hand and the other at Jesus’ left when he took his throne. There was this expectation of an earthly kingdom the like the world had never seen before – and oh wasn’t that the truth. Not a kingdom of power and might and glory with thrones of marble and gold gilt, with courtesans and lush robes and sceptres and palaces, and servants but a kingdom of servant leaders, fools and failures, rejects and sinners, the poor, the sick, the outcast – and when the new radical sheen of being servants wore off, after three years of making sacrifices for those on the fringes and bearing the scorn of the religious leaders of the day, perhaps doubt wound its way into Judas’ heart, mind and soul. Maybe questions started to form in Judas of where was the revolution, what was the Messiah waiting for, why wasn’t he rallying people to get ready to throw out the Romans? And especially now, at the most sacred time of year, the Passover, the time of remembrance and celebration when God stood up for the Hebrews against the Egyptians – what a perfect time for God to stand up for the Hebrews to the Romans! What a perfect time for God’s chosen people to reclaim the land that God had promised to them through their forefather Moses, and and remembering that God kept the promises made to Abraham! What a perfect time – and instead this? This new commandment of loving one another? This ritual of washing feet – and asking the disciples to do the same? What a hypocrite!

Just days before in Bethany, Jesus was anointed with costly ointment – that could have been sold to distribute to the poor and needy – and instead it was thrown away in this lavish display of indulgence. So if its ok for that, then why is it not ok for the common purse to be used for the needs of the apostles? – Maybe this is what ran through Judas’ mind. A growing sense of confusion, misunderstanding, bitterness, anger, jealousy…. so broken, and so human. Maybe this is how it had been the whole time for Judas – struggling to understand

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.”

And yet, Judas was not excluded from the meal that was shared, Judas was not excluded from the washing of the feet. Judas was included in all of that. And that must have been that much more confusing to him. Feeling guilty and convicted that Jesus somehow knew what he had done…. what he was going to do…. should he do it, should he carry it through?

Jesus was accepting of tax collectors – those collaborators who had betrayed the people Israel to the Romans, but what would Jesus do with someone who had betrayed him personally? That was different. Everyone acts differently when its personal.

“It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.”

And the disciples were confused – not just because Jesus had called out a betrayer in their midst, but because it was so unclear as to who it was? And no wonder the disciples were confused, because they were all dipping bread in the dish with Jesus. They were probably all reflecting on their humanity, their questions, their uncertainties, their failings, their doubts – wondering if they had betrayed Jesus, or how they had betrayed Jesus, or if they had considered it, how he knew? They had all failed him in some way, they had all been berated by Jesus for not getting it, they had all been called out on their mistakes.

“For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ “

And Judas, spiralling out of control, descensds into a kind of madness, a place of guilt and confusion, and yet a place of seeming conviction and focus – maybe Jesus wasn’t who they all thought he was, otherwise God wouldn’t allow this to happen, he wouldn’t be able to go through with it. Judas descends to a place where reality, and reason and sense are suspended, and time moves strangely. This is right, it has to be right, it is right, isn’t it? He descends into that place that Scripture calls the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This is not right. This is all wrong. I made a mistake. What do I do? How do I fix it? What now? O God, help me! He really is God’s son!

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