Jesus and Judas
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This is a dramatic interpretation of a conversation that we hope took place between Jesus and Judas in the moments before The Last Supper. For us, this interpretation helps to explain why Jesus, a Divine Teacher (John 13.13), encouraged, even commanded (in his words, “What you are going to do, do quickly”), his disciple Judas to betray him in a manner that he, Jesus, must have known would ensure his, Judas', eternal damnation. To us, that simply does not sound like something a Teacher like Jesus, indeed any Teacher, would do to a disciple or student.
Thus, the following suggested exchange.
Here is our playlet.
The Time: Midday, a few hours before The Last Supper
The Place: Jerusalem, a grassy knoll
Present: Jesus, who is seated on the grass, and Judas, who is walking by.
Jesus (to Judas): There you are. Good. Come, sit next to me. We have to talk. There’s something I need you to do.
Judas (walks over, sits on the grass beside Jesus): Of course, Teacher. Whatever.
Jesus: You’re a good man, Jay; always have been. But, trust me, you are not going to like this.
Judas: Please don’t say that, Teacher. Doing anything for you is my favorite thing. Whatever you need, just ask.
Jesus: You know about the sacrificial lamb thing, right?
Judas: Of course I do. A sinner lays his hand on a lamb, thereby passing his sin to the lamb; the lamb is slaughtered, and the sinner is cleansed.
Jesus: Well, our Father wants us to perform that ritual for all mankind.
Judas (with surprise): Say what?
Jesus: What can I tell you, He’s God. (pauses, takes a deep breath) So, this is the way it’s going down. I am to be the lamb. Pilate, who as you know is looking for an excuse to get rid of me, what with all my talk of a New Kingdom, has been selected as the executioner, and …
Judas (interrupting): No, no, no! You know what that means, don’t you? You’re not a Roman citizen. You don’t get a clean chop at the neck. You get crucifixion. No, please, don’t say that word.
Jesus: Yes, I know. And here’s the thing: We’ve selected you to put it in motion. Dad and I want you to go to Pilate, and tell him where I am, and when he can find me here.
Judas (with panic): You’re scaring me. Please tell me you’re joking. Please, sir, say it’s …
Jesus (interrupting): I’m sorry, Jay, but it’s no joke. (Jesus affectionately takes Judas’ hand in his) Near the end of today’s meal, I am going to instruct you to go to Pilate, and tell him where he can find me. (pause) But hear this: I don’t want the other eleven to know what we’re doing until it’s in train, and definitely none of the Marys, especially Mom. I mean that. So, I will say to you something simple that none of them will understand, something like “Go!” And, without any comment, you will do as I am telling you now. Is that clear?
Judas: Of course, Teacher, I will do as you say. But you’re not telling the others? You know they’re going to blame all of this on me. They’re already jealous about your having picked me as treasurer. I don’t mind taking heat for you; I love you so. But this will never end. They’ll hate me forever.
Jesus: I know. But it was either you or Mary Magdalene. You are the only two who understand what I’m doing and saying. Bless their hearts, the others take the work we’re doing together, and the stuff I’m teaching, like it’s about us against Rome, politics and warfare, good guys and bad guys. You remember, Luke wrote about it at 9:54; they wanted me to burn down a village that annoyed them. Those fellows won’t do this; they can’t do this. They just don’t have it in them. And Mary? You know as well as I do, Pilate won’t pay attention to Mary. She’s a woman; their movement won’t come to a boil for a couple thousand years. I’m sorry, but it’s got to be you.
The place: Heaven.
The time: A while since Jesus and Judas spoke.
Present: God, seated on a soft cloud. A few feet off is Judas, who has performed precisely as instructed by Jesus.
He is walking uncertainly, toward God.
God (seeing Judas): Well, there you are. I’ve been waiting for you. Sit down, next to Me.
Judas (with nervousness): Are You … You are …
God: Yes, I AM. Don’t be nervous, it’s okay. My boy told Me about the conversation you two had, and I knew you would be coming, so I wanted to be here for you, soon as you arrived. How are you?
Judas: I’m afraid to tell You. You see, after talking to Pilate, I … what I did was …
God: I know what you did. You killed yourself. It’s alright, Jay. I understand. Really, I do. In your place, if I were not immortal, I probably would have done the same thing. The boy’s being tortured right now, even as we speak. Soon, they will be driving nails through his hands and feet. (aside) These Romans! How did they become so cruel? The whole species is so cruel sometimes. I must have mixed up some of the DNA ingredients.(back to Judas) What killed you was knowing, thinking, that you are the cause of your beloved Teacher’s death. It’s okay; you only did what I wanted you to do. Please trust Me; the boy’s fine. He will be here with the two of us, soon. I will have him sit right next to you. And, don’t worry, bad as it looks and sounds, he is not in pain. As soon as he turned to you at the dinner table, and said “What you are going to do, do quickly” — dramatic lad, isn’t he? — I had Gabriel turn his pain receptors down. So he’s hardly feeling a thing. Just enough to convince the multitudes of you people that he was suffering, cleansing you of your sins. I swear, it really says something about what you people think of Me, doesn’t it, that I would have him, have anyone, go through such an ordeal, such suffering, just to get My attention, to elicit mercy from Me. Oh well.
God and Judas continue talking,
Judas endlessly, repeatedly, tearfully thanking God for relieving him of the pain, the guilt, and the self-disgust that drove him to suicide.
God, equally endlessly but perhaps with a hint of growing impatience — like, “It was My doing. Get over it.” — reassuring him.
God (to Jesus): Oh, you’re here. How was it?
Jesus (with surprise): How was it? What a question! (turns to Judas) He’s something, isn’t He?
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