The Betrayal of Jesus
The figure of Judas Iscariot is a haunting and baffling one. Was he chosen by God to
betray His Son? And then commit suicide?
How could God allow that? Jesus suffered death
but rose again. Judas had to extinguish himself. Did saving the world really require that price? What is to be learned from 'Judas the
The betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot always seems odd because (a) everyone knew
who Jesus was; if they wanted Him, He was
there already, (b) in a small-town place like Jerusalem, Jesus' presence would have been a
secret to nobody. Below are two of many different interpretations of what might
Possibly, one scholar suggests, Judas wanted to provoke a disturbance and speed up the pace. The Jews would grab
Jesus, there would be a commotion, the Romans would intervene, a riot would begin prompted by
Jesus' followers, and then Jesus would show His divine
powers and eliminate the worthless and faithless of Jerusalem, Palestine and the whole world. Cleansing the Temple days earlier
had shown Jesus had a temper. He could do it!
But Jesus was to disappoint. There was violence in the Garden as
the high priest's servant had his ear cut off; but Jesus quelled that violence.
To Judas this must have been a bitter disappointment. Was the Mighty One really going to let
Himself be handed over and killed? And then, too late, in his
misery and disillusionment, Judas realized why: Jesus
was the Just One, too Just for Judas to bear. Some speculate that at this point Judas hanged himself in
order to seek Jesus in the other world and ask His pardon.
The fact is that those who wanted to see fireworks in the saving of the world would wait in vain. Jesus
was tried, sentenced, died,
lay and rose in stillness. So it is with the Christian
experience of Christ. Not in the crash of drums, but in a tiny awareness of presence. Like the
spring flowers now peeping into our gardens, the Resurrection comes ever so discreetly into all our lives.
We really have to trust it is there, and not despair.
Another point of view: How could Judas Iscariot, who had seen God's power and
love in such abundance, turn out so wrong? Judas was chosen by
Jesus to be a disciple. Judas had heard and shared in Jesus' teachings.
Judas had witnessed miracles, including watching Lazarus being raised from the dead
just days before. How could Judas, when witnessing an act of great personal faith, i.e.
Mary Magdalene washing Jesus' feet with expensive perfume, how could Judas only think of personal financial
It is possible that Judas' problem was that he had trouble comprehending the awesome spectacle he was a part of. Judas was
with Jesus day-after-day hearing His teachings, watching
Him perform miracles. These experiences overwhelmed him, he stopped seeing
these events as marvelous and started seeing them as mundane. After all, miracles
happened every day, they were nothing special, just part of the job.
Like Judas, you and I are chosen to be disciples of Christ. We hear and read of
Christ's teachings, just like Judas did. We also see and experience God's love
and power around us every day. Are we going to take it for granted like Judas
or embrace it like Mary Magdalene?
Lastly, there is a very beautiful old legend titled "The Day of the Lord."
It describes the joy and the glorious celebration taking place in Heaven on the Last Day that the Gospels
talk about. Everyone is dancing, singing and shouting with great jubilation. Everyone except Jesus.
Jesus is standing very quietly in the shadows of the pearly gates. Someone asks Him
what He is doing. Why He is so quiet and pensive in the midst of such a
glorious celebration. Jesus replies with His usual gentleness of the
Good Shepherd He is, "I am waiting here for Judas."
The story simply symbolizes the infinite quality of Jesus' gentleness, which is constantly practiced in
His compassion, His mercy and His forgiving love
which He offers even to Judas Iscariot.
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