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27 March 2018

Is it wrong to say I feel desperately sorry for him?

While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’… At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him…he went out. Night had fallen. 

Scripture scholars sometimes suggest that as Jesus’ disciples went, Judas was more on the zealot side of the spectrum. That is to say, he longed for the kingdom of God to be a political reality, a manifestation of the power of God resulting in the overthrow of the hated Roman overlords and returning Israel as a nation to a place of authority and international respect. Judas, the theory goes, in betraying Jesus into the hands of the chief priests was attempting to precipitate a crisis in which Jesus would turn the miracle power he had demonstrated through his ministry against the military power of Rome in order to protect himself and his followers.

If that is accurate, Judas was totally desperately wrong.

The evangelist John has no sympathy. From his perspective, Judas became a pawn of Satan whom he had allowed to enter his heart. If we are to be really honest, however, each one of us is capable, like Judas, of great evil. A less supportive family background, a bit more pressure, less openness to grace, a couple of really bad decisions. It could have been me.

Jesus walks towards the cross with his eyes open. He knows the evil that is being unleashed against him. He goes to the cross out of great love, precisely to break the hold of the dark power over humanity that had so twisted Judas.


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