Wednesday, April 12, 2017
The bad guys of the Holy Week story fascinate me. Some of them are unnamed, including some religious leaders and the soldiers who scourged Jesus. Then there is Caiaphas, the high priest, Pilate, the Roman prefect, and Judas, the disciple turned betrayer.
This is the day of Holy Week when the Christian church has traditionally acknowledged Judas' plotting against Jesus, which resulted in the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane after a kiss of betrayal.
I just finished Amos Oz's novel entitled Judas which is set in the 1950's. It is about a young Jewish scholar who ends up living with an elderly rabbi and his widowed daughter-in-law. The son of the rabbi was killed during the war to establish Israel, leaving father and wife embittered. This woman is also the daughter of a political figure who went from prominence to pariah because he questioned a cause which pitted Jews against Arabs.
The young man is no longer a student but explores the notion that Judas is the founder of Christianity before Paul because his actions lead to Jesus' crucifixion. Judas infiltrates Jesus' circle of followers, becomes a fervent believer, but orchestrates Jesus' arrest, convinced that he will save himself from destruction and rise up as the liberator of his people. When this doesn't transpire Judas is desolate and takes his own life. Yet he has inadvertently initiated the religion in which the cross is central.
It is an interesting story told by one of the great novelists of Israel, who has been vilified by some as a traitor, a Judas, because over the course of a lifetime moved from being an ardent nationalist to a deep awareness of the humanity of those who are sometimes demonized in Israeli society.
Today we can remember that at times all of us are guilty of betraying what we assume are our core values and our faith in Christ. We are the "bad guys" and gals as well as those who survey the wondrous cross with admiration and devotion.