Tonight was the final night of our drama at church. I didn’t have to make egg salad because others were bringing food, but I still had to show up. I played a part in the drama. It was an important part. My character name started with “J” and ended with “S.” Don’t tell me – you guessed Judas too. Almost everyone I know guessed that I played Judas when I put it that way. Since I played Judas a few years ago in a drama at church, my pastor said that I was now typecast for life.
I had the opportunity to betray some great Jesuses the last two nights. Because of the nature of the drama we had four Jesuses in the drama and each one of them brought something different to the role that made their interpretation unique and inspiring. We had another Judas who played the role differently than I did, based on what I heard. Each of us brought our own identity into the role not for our own ego’s sake, but to draw people into the emotional experience of the betrayal of Jesus.
While we may never know what motivated Jesus to betray Jesus, my belief is that Judas thought Jesus was going to be the military Messiah that everyone expected to overthrow Roman rule in Israel. Since Jesus didn’t seem to be making His move, Judas was acting on the belief that turning Jesus over to the authorities would force Him to start the Revolution. Only, at the last supper, Jesus talked about a broken body, a covenant in His blood, and a time of suffering. Then, when Jesus talked about betrayal, Judas was dumbfounded because he didn’t see himself as betraying Jesus as much as he thought he was forcing Jesus’s hand. Then came the time in the garden. Jesus was praying, and Judas tried one last time to kickstart the revolution, coming with Roman soldiers to arrest Him. I can only imagine the shock and anguish Judas felt when he saw Jesus give up without a fight and let the Roman soldiers drag Him away.
As I said, we don’t know what was going on in Judas’s head, too many of us have this idea that Judas was somehow “weird” (to quote our youth minister’s son) or hideously evil. It’s comforting to put Judas in that kind of category that none of us will ever fit into. Seeing Judas as just an everyday person who wanted to see God work in a specific way so much that they’d go against their principles to seek to force God to act is scary. Because. Because it’s such an easy thing to do. After all, the results would be fantastic if God would do things the way I want Him to. When we act like that, we betray Jesus just like Judas did. Our betrayal may be worse than his because we should have known better.