Raoul’s Two Cents: March 31, 2023
The 12th Apostle
WARNING: Religious content. Next week is Holy Week so let’s do a Biblical Telenovela. Please move on to the jokes if this isn’t your thing.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Judas Iscariot is an infamous character. No Christian would ever call her child Judas. The name and character is synonymous to evil — for it was Judas who betrayed his own master. But in the first century, it was a very common name because Judas is a derivative of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Iscariot was not his last name. Rather, it pertains to his town of origin, ie. a man of Kerioth or Cariot – thus we have Judas of Cariot.
Judas was a zealot, a Jewish activist who fought against the tyranny of Rome. He was one of the 12 apostles who believed Jesus was the political Messiah — a political hero (prophesied to come since Adam and Eve) who would return Israel to the glory days of Solomon. None of the apostles (including Judas) had any clue that Jesus’ mission was so much deeper than any kind of worldly conquest.
In the Broadway play Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas was portrayed as an unwilling victim of circumstance. I was one of those who wondered if I misunderstood the man. Let’s take a drive back to the first century and see what really happened.
In our opening scene, we see Judas deep in thought: “Revolutions have happened before but they were thwarted by superior military might. But now we have Jesus, our secret weapon who has superpowers. All indications say we are approaching the time to strike. But lately, Jesus seems to be faltering. For heaven’s sake, he’s been talking about dying! It must be the stress. Maybe he needs a little push. Maybe, when threatened, Jesus will release His power on those Romans. I’ve been stealing from the treasury for months and no one (not even Jesus) has caught on. Jesus is not omnipotent after all. I shall make a secret arrangement with the High priest and get this revolution started. I’ll even get rich in the process. I’ll haggle for 30 pieces of silver (the price of a slave, the price of a potter’s field [land used as a common grave for people who couldn’t afford their own cemetery]”.
AS THE PROPHETIC WHEELS TURN
SCENE: Two days before the Passover festival, Jesus and his apostle are in Bethany, in the home of Simon the healed Leper (Matthew 26). In the middle of the party, in comes a woman carrying an alabaster jar containing a very expensive perfume. With tears flowing she humbly approaches the reclining Jesus at the dinner table. Full of repentance and gratitude, she pours the liquid on Jesus head and the aroma fills the room.
Judas, the treasurer, seethes with anger: “What do you think you’re doing? We could have sold that perfume and it could have helped so many poor people!” Of course, Judas knows he could later pilfer the cash for his own interests. “Not even Jesus knows about this. What a clever man I am. What a righteous practical treasurer I am.”
“Why are you criticizing this woman?” Jesus remarked. “Her heart is pure. Allow her to do with her property as she wishes. There is a time for the poor. She did this as a preview of my upcoming burial. History will remember her for this loving gesture.”
Oooo. What a public slap in the face for Judas. “How dare Jesus, embarrass me like that. Ha! You don’t even know who your friends are anymore. Well, I’m going to save face and force you to move faster. The time is ripe. I’ll make a deal with the High priests and once they try to capture you, it’ll be interesting to see what miracle you will pull off to start the revolution! You can thank me later!”
SCENE: Judas meets secretly with Caiaphas, the high priest.
Judas: “How much will you give me if I deliver Jesus to you?”
Caiaphas: “How about 30 pcs of silver? Is that good enough for you?”
Judas: “A price of a slave? How ironic. Yeah, that’s fine. Have your men ready when I come early Friday morning and I will lead them to Jesus. And to make sure they arrest the right guy, Jesus will be the one I kiss. Sounds good?”
The priests: “Sounds very good.”
SCENE: Friday, early morning at the Garden of Gethsemane: Jesus is alone praying while the apostles, having eaten so much for dinner, are snoring. In marches a small army of the priests (I wonder why priests need an army?) with their torches and swords. Leading the pack is the jilted self-righteous Judas. No exchange of words between them. Jesus allows Judas to kiss him.
Jesus asks at the soldiers: “Who is it you want?” (John 18)
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they say.
The soldiers have heard of the stories about Jesus’ power and they fearfully draw back and fall to the ground.
“I’m the guy you want. Let’s get on with the formalities but let the others go.”
Bewildered, that they’re even still alive, the goons proceed to arrest Jesus when Peter springs into action. With sword in hand, Peter cuts the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant. Jesus scolds Peter: “Peter!? Put your sword away. I’m allowing this to happen. I gotta do what I gotta do.” Jesus is taken away.
Judas is dumbfounded. “What just happened? Why didn’t Jesus put up a fight? What have I done? Jesus knew! He knew! I’m such a fool! I meant this for good. Why didn’t Jesus follow my plan? Everyone will know it was me who betrayed my master. How can I face anyone now?“
Judas wobbles to the chief priests: “Here take back your 39 silver pieces. I have sinned!”
“Ha! Ha! Ha! What is that to us?” They replied. “That’s your problem!”
Scorned by people from both sides, Judas staggers to a tree by a cliff and hangs himself (Matthew 27). He is too heavy and Judas’ lifeless body falls headlong and bursts open and all his intestines spill out (Acts 1:18). Goodbye Judas.
(Of course this is a paraphrase. Biblical scholars, I’m open to your corrections).
Judas is such a tragic character. He was a first hand witness of Christ’s teaching and miracles to build his faith. But his pride and so-called intellect told him his plan was better and kept him from true understanding. He was given countless opportunities to repent. He had no excuse. Even in death God’s disdain for this man was apparent.
All of us have a little Judas inside us. Our seemingly harmless miscalculations could have major consequences. If there was a 1st century newspaper ad for a person of Judas’ caliber it would read something like this:
Looking for a person of strong political and religious convictions. Successful candidate will be responsible for the budget so must be beyond reproach. Must be present and attentive at all functions. Must be a self-starter… determined … able to negotiate … a shrewd businessperson. Above all, must have an unwavering blind loyalty to the cause of the establishment and its narrative.
Do you know anyone who would qualify? Would YOU qualify? What makes you think you could never be a Judas? Yeah, I see myself there too.
TGIF people! Happy Palm Sunday!
(FYI, I had to rewrite this article maybe 5 times because my program kept on crashing. This really tried my patience. “Someone” didn’t want me to share this article.)
Joke of the Week
Thanks to Maling of New Manila, Philippines
Video of the Week
Thanks to Garie of Cainta, Philippines
Thanks to Tom of Pasadena, CA
Thanks to Art of Sierra Madre, CA
Thanks to Maling of New Manila, Philippines
I found these
The Traveling Boy
My good friend (and jokester) Terry and I came up with these.