(Not Iscariot)

Welcome to Redeeming Culture!  What follows is a brief dramatization of what some people call “Spy Wednesday” – the day Judas began seeking an opportunity to betray Jesus.  This is based in fact, but other than the names and basic facts, what follows is fiction.  Judas (not Iscariot) may or may not have seen these things, but we really don’t know.

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Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

(Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)

No, actually, my name is Thaddeus.  Yeah, there is that other name, but the name “Judas” is a little bit…well, I get looked at sideways if I mention that my name is Judas and I used to follow Jesus around.  For obvious reasons.  It’s not a pleasant experience, so I just tell people my name is Thaddeus.

But you didn’t ask me about my name.  You asked me what happened with Judas.  The other Judas.

Well, a few weeks ago – a couple days before the…before what happened, I saw Judas on the temple grounds…

1

“Judas!” I called out, running up to my friend.  “I didn’t expect to see you here.  I thought you were buying provisions!”

He shuffled something beneath his cloak before speaking.  Something didn’t seem right, but I thought little of it.  The thrill of the Master’s entry into Jerusalem on Sunday had changed us all, I thought to myself; perhaps he was feeling ill.

“My brother.”  He smiled at me as we embraced.  “How are you?  I am…simply visiting the temple.”

“Of course.  I won’t keep you.”  I smiled at him and made my farewells.  But as we parted, I noticed that he didn’t seem to be headed for the temple and remembered that unusual smile, so I decided to just watch him for a second.

Maybe I should clarify something before you get the wrong idea.  I wasn’t snooping.  But Simon and I – not Peter, the other Simon – had been suspicious that Judas was skimming off the purse he carried for Jesus.  I so badly wanted to be wrong.  So I wanted to see if he would do something, anything, to validate the Master’s trust in him.

But he didn’t go into the temple.  He went around to the north – entering the Sanhedrin rather than the temple proper.  I don’t know what he did in there, but knowing Jesus’ history with the Pharisees and Sadducees, the grin that was on his face as he left couldn’t be a good thing.  He glanced furtively around – didn’t see me – and then made his way back to where Jesus and the Disciples were staying.  I had to rush to make sure that I got back before him.

2

The next night was an experience I’ve never had before and will never forget.  From beginning to end.

Well, ok, the beginning was pretty normal. I’m a Jew, I’ve been a part of dozens of Passover meals. I’ve helped prepare, clean up, sing the songs, dipped the maror and the korech, the whole thing. But then Jesus got up in the middle of the meal and started washing our feet. It was…unusual, to say the least. Especially for a Rabbi!  None of us wanted to let him, but He made it very clear that we were all to be involved. Even Judas. And that blows me away, even now. I remember thinking while He did it, “I should be the one washing your feet.” I can only imagine what Judas thought.  He definitely didn’t look pleased.  He sort of stalked off afterward, and it almost seemed like he was trying to kick dust back onto his feet.

Then Jesus started talking about blood and covenants and…all I could think is, this sounds like a marriage proposal!

Oh right, sorry, you’re not Jews. Ok, so, when a young Jewish man wants to marry a girl, he pours her some wine, says something heartfelt about how much he will protect her and provide for her, and then she drinks it to accept. And that’s kind of what Jesus did.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

(Luke 22:19-20 ESV)

When you’re around Jesus for a while, you’d think that eventually you would start getting used to unusual things. You don’t.

3

At some point Judas must have left.  I didn’t see him go.  Unfortunately, that’s because we were…ugh, this is embarrassing…well, we were fighting.  I don’t even remember what it was about, but I think it had something to do with who was better or something.  Very stupid.  We did a lot of dumb things that we wouldn’t have done if we’d known what was coming.   But the point is, after the dinner Jesus took us to the garden he liked at the base of the mount, and it wasn’t until we got there that I realized Judas was gone.

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and they went deeper into the garden.  At one point, I looked up to see what the four of them were doing, and it looked like Jesus had gone on even further…quite frankly, the other three didn’t look like they were praying.  They looked like they were asleep.  I was sort of making a mental note to joke with them about it when they came back, but right as I was smirking, I heard a crowd coming toward the garden.  They came in, a few dozen men in temple guard uniforms with swords and clubs, led by a very fidgety Judas.  He glanced around at all of us, but didn’t say anything.

It was right then that Jesus came back, the other three following sheepishly behind him.  Judas put on this very obviously fake smile, the kind you get when you really don’t care whether they believe you or not.  He came up to Jesus and kissed him, saying “Hello, teacher!”  Jesus said something back to him, but I didn’t hear what it was because as soon as Judas was out of the way the guards stepped up to him, clanging around and making noise.  The high priest’s servant came up, gloating and reading the charges or something; Peter cut off his ear, but Jesus stopped us all before a riot broke out.

And as quickly as he had come, Judas was again nowhere to be seen.

4

The events of the next few days are a bit of a blur.  I never did see Judas again, never got to ask him why he betrayed the most incredible man who ever lived.  All I know is that they both died, and I think Judas may have killed himself.  Jesus died a pretty grisly death on a Roman cross.  Romans, man.  They’re brutal.  It’s bad enough that Jesus was sentenced to death, but Romans?  They can really dish out the pain before you die.

One thing is for sure: I missed the whole point until way later.  I kept thinking, Judas’ face was so obvious!  How did Jesus miss it?  How is it that He didn’t see this coming?

Three days later, the question was kind of overshadowed by the fact that Jesus was back!  And while He was talking to us, he explained it so that suddenly, it clicked.

Jesus wasn’t surprised by Judas’ plan.  He knew what was going on and was allowing it to happen – allowing Judas to kill him – so that He could save everyone!  So that He could be the Passover Lamb, giving us the final victory over death.

And that whole time, I had been looking at Judas when I really should have been looking at Jesus.  I had been thinking about Judas’ shifty eyes when I should have been seeing what Christ was showing me.  I was trying to figure out the betrayer’s plan when the King Himself was going to use it for His own purposes, turning an evil plan against Him into the means for saving us all.

Christ is a redeemer, and He redeemed us all.  And I’m never taking my eyes off of Him again.

 

Thanks for reading this little dramatization of Judas, Judas and the plot against Jesus.  Once again, while the broad narrative follows Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18.  From Redeeming Culture, we’d like to wish all of you a very Happy Easter.  He Is Risen!

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Has this story whetted your appetite to learn more about Jesus’ disciples?  John MacArthur’s modern classic Twelve Ordinary Men is available on Amazon right now.  And if you want to see more ways you can help Redeeming Culture, click here.  Thank you!

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