Friday, April 07, 2006

Re-examining Judas ...

In light of the proximity to Easter, and the recent discussions in the news of 'new-found' documents and theories about Judas' role (such as this recent CBC one and this recent CNN one), I thought I'd post a piece I wrote just over a year ago, in recognition of last Easter, and how I felt the role of Judas needed to be re-examined. The text isn't even that new ... people have been talking about it for awhile, but the clues to this theory, in my opinion, have ALWAYS been in Jesus life. Anyway, since there is a 'buzz' on the topic now, here's a reprint of my article from last year :)

From: "Elron Steele"
Date: Sun Mar 27, 2005 11:11 pm
Subject: Happy Easter ... and re-examining Judas ...
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Easter weekend is as good a time as any to re-examine the role of
Judas Iscsariot in Jesus story. Usually, Christians focus on Jesus'
death and ressurection during this time, but its just as relevant to
meditate on the events that led up to that final outcome.

The traditional story, ofc, casts Judas as the betrayer of Jesus,
selling Jesus' freedom for 30 peices of silver, before repenting at
the end. But it seems odd, to me at least, that this version of
events has become som commonplace, when there's plenty of reason, in
Biblical verse alone, to question what REALLY happened the night
Jesus' was turned over to Roman Authorities.

The first thing that strikes me as odd in the whole thing are the
players involved. Except for this one, isolated instance, Judas is
portrayed throughout the Gospels as one of Jesus' closest, and most
trusted, associates. Judas is the treasurer for the group, indicating
great trust in both his honesty and intelligence, and Judas is OFTEN
described as one of Jesus' closest associates among the disciples.

After Jesus is taken into custody, and what will happen becomes
apparent, and REAL, Judas repents, trying to offer his silver back to
the Romans. Through this act, he shows his continued (or renewed,
perhaps) devotion to Jesus. But yet, for 6 hours or so the night
before, Judas is a TOTALLY different person, by the traditional view.

Now, traditionally, Judas is always viewed as a disciple who was
'faking it' through Jesus ministry, that he wasn't the devoted
follower of Jesus that everyone thought he was. Traditional views of
that time have the betrayel of Jesus as the act that reveals Judas'
TRUE character.

My main problem with that is that his repentence the next day makes no
sense in that context. Again, the traditional view shows it as an
evil man trying to repent, but does that REALLY make any sense in context?

What DOES make sense to me is a different story entirely. All the
FACTS are the same, as described in the Bible, but the focus is
different. It seems FAR more reasonable to me to assume that rather
than betraying Jesus, Judas was merely following Jesus' instructions.

Jesus was the leader of a radical sect, who wandered the countryside
preaching VERY seditious views, from a Roman perspective anyway, and
probably also from the perspective of the Jewish authorities at the
time. He was also a very smart man, who would have been KEENLY aware
of the political and spiritual currents around him. He would have
known, very well, as they made their way towards Jeruselum for that
final Passover, that his days were numbered. It would have been clear
to him, I think, that eventually the authorities would catch up with
him. Remember, this is THREE YEARS after he trashed the Temple ... he
has ALWAYS been something of a fugitive, and now he's back with a band
of disciples.

Clearly, to me anyway, Jesus was aware enough to have seen all that
brewing around him. And I think he knew he had a dilema. As it was,
he was a criminal, really, on the run from the law. If Roman Soldiers
caught up with them and arrested them, it would be easy to portray
them as fugitives from justice, and a danger to order. But I think
Jesus was a VERY smart man who devised a solution to the problem.

He told Judas to betray him to the Roman Soldiers. He gave Judas the
time and place of meeting, and told him what price to ask the soldiers
for when he went to them. And I think Judas protested loudly,
vehemently, strongly, that what Jesus proposed was suicide, and that
they needed their leader.

I think Jesus would have tried to explain the situation, without
complete success. To Jesus, the path would have been clear. By
willingly surrendering to the Romans, He shows that he is happy to
stand accountable for his 'crimes.' And even though Jesus would have
rationally predicted the final outcome, he ALSO would have rationally
predicted the impact he would make with his actions. He could see how
willingly going to court to stand up for his actions was the RIGHT
thing to do, and willingly accepting the unjust verdict and sentence
was the RIGHT thing do do. And he knew it was the right thing to do
because he knew the rightness of his position, and wrongness of those
who condemned him, would be obvious. 2000 years later, we still
debate the meaning of it all, but its hard to argue, no matter who you
are and what you believe, that Jesus deserved to die on the cross for
his actions.

Jesus point, in life and death, was that our actions are determined by
our own moral convictions, NOT by the actions of those around us. His
final message was one that I think Judas helped deliver, albeit very
reluctantly. To me, Judas was a faithful follower of Jesus, faithful
to the very end in fact, who performed a supremely difficult task
against his better judgement.

I don't know the truth, ofc. I wasn't there. But to me, that story
fits all the available facts, before and after the event, better than
other stories do. Its really a shame Judas has gotten such a bad rap
over the centuries ... from my way of looking, Judas was the prime
conduit for the most important message Jesus gave us.

But regardless of what you believe, I hope this long weekend has been
nice for everyone. Passover, Easter, or just a nice long weekend, I
hope it was enjoyable for all :)


At 9:21 p.m., Blogger Hurricane Willie Peppers said...

I too see Judas very differently from the conventional view. However, I believe he was a nationalist revolutionary who had joined up with a prophet of love. When Judas finally realized that Jesus was all about loving enemies, going the second mile, and taking up His cross etc, Judas saw the movement Jesus was leading as pacifist and counter-productive to revolution.

Thus Judas betrayed Jesus. But then he had second thoughts, and was overcome by guilt.

Point being, I think Judas was not merely a greedy thug posing as a disciple, but a zealot bent on killing some Romans. When his leader turned the other cheek instead, he took him out, but then realized it had been a grave mistake.

Just my thought on it.

At 9:51 p.m., Blogger Elron said...

Thats an excellent point Willie. Iscariot, Judas' "last name" is traceable back to the original movement from which the word Zealot was coined.

Its an interesting viewpoint ... and its hard to prove one way or the other. I think its safe to say that the 'official story' has flaws though, lol. Thanx for the comment :)

At 8:27 a.m., Blogger DesignGal said...

Very interesting way of looking at it :)


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