Tag Archives: Judas

He was dead

Tonight I am off to a murder mystery evening. I have never been to one before but I know that someone will be killed, yet at the end of the evening they will be back to take their bow- it is make believe, the death will not really happen and we will all be just acting out a story for a purpose. Today is Holy Saturday-Christ is dead in the tomb, the disciples are bereft, and the world is ignorant of hope. We sit here over 2,000 years later and we know how the story ends and, because we do, there is a real danger that we fail to forget the significance of the day in between – the time he was dead and all hope was dead, the mission was over. To the people and the disciples and to the religious leaders of the day Jesus  had failed to bring in the new kingdom he talked about and was no different to  any other holy man or prophet that had been before.  As Nick Fawcett’s entry for Easter Eve in his book Daily Prayer says; ” Jesus was dead…He was laid limp and lifeless in a tomb, and a stone rolled against the entrance. Humanly speaking it was over, the end of a wonderful ministry and an unforgettable man. He had shared our life; he had shared our death. If the story was to continue, it was out of human hands- it was down to God.”

The mystery of what Christ achieved in death I will leave to the theologians, but Tarjei Park suggested  in his reflection of the crucifixion; “He was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell. What was Jesus doing in hell? He was looking for his friend Judas Iscariot. Judas had done something so wrong he could not forgive himself, and feeling incapable of being forgiven, in bitter tears of regret, he hanged himself. Well, Jesus went looking for him, and in hell he found him. He walked over to him and kissed him, and took his hand. Miracles occur in hell.”

Inscribed on a cellar wall in Cologne where some Jews has hidden for the entire duration of the Second World War were these lines:

I believe in the sun, even when it doesn’t shine. I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it. I believe in God, even when He is silent.

On that first Easter eve ,God fell very silent and many wondered if they would ever here from him again. No word, no sign, no hope.

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It started with a kiss

judas_kissTonight I have just returned from a Maundy Thursday church service which took me back to the first last supper when Jesus instituted the meal we now know as Holy Communion or Eucharist.  The meal had its origins in the passover meal instituted in Exodus to commemorate how God spared the children of Israel through the blood of the sacrificial lamb and this is symbolic of the role Jesus as sacrificial Messiah was to play to redeem his people.

Jesus is the central figure of the crucifixion story but the role of Judas is second only to that of Jesus- the passion begins with him. In Wesley Carr’s book Tested by the Cross he writes; ” throughout history Judas has been maligned as the one who betrayed Jesus. Christians have forever damned him..But they rarely, if ever, asked why what Judas did actually mattered. ..He has a vision of what might be and what ought to be. He tries to bring it about. His is an independent mind. When he acts he is effective…As Judas kisses Jesus he draws him to himself. He embraces all that he wishes himself to be and has found he cannot be….Someone always has to bear the impact of our concern with ourselves and our image…..Judas became the damned disciple. “ 

The poet Edwin Muirdidn’t leave Judas there as damned, he imagines  more. He describes a world transformed where the mystery of the hidden order of the universe was disclosed. One secret concerns Judas:

“And Judas damned take his long journey backward from darkness into light and be a child beside his mother’s knee, and the betrayal be quite undone and never more be done.”

Carr suggests that instead of Muir going back to the Garden of Gethsemane to undo his evil deed and claim forgiveness or repentance, the poet takes us with Judas all the way back to his mother’s knee . “We discover that when Judas is forgiven for betraying Jesus, whatever went wrong in his past before that moment is also reordered, all the wrongs prior to the betrayal are dealth with… all his life has changed…we can be changed.”

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