Holy Wednesday: The Other Judas

This Holy Week, Water Daily looks at the readings appointed for each day and reflect from the perspective of one the people on the fringes of the story. We too are on the fringes of this story – and we are invited to come into its heart this week. May these holy men and women draw us closer. You can listen to this reflection here. Today’s gospel reading is here.  

Judas, son of James: Why is this night SO different from any other night! The tension at the Seder table was thick enough to cut. Even after the weirdness of the footwashing, it was clear the troubles were getting to him. Jesus can bear pressure better than most, but nobody can take weeks of death threats and rumors and not be affected. Nothing he said this evening made sense, not the washing, not the words about the bread and the wine; his body, his blood?

And then he said one of us would betray him. One of us? We love him! We’ve left everything to follow him. Why would one of us hand him over to the authorities? We all looked at each other, at Jesus. Then Peter signaled John to ask him who. Jesus wouldn’t give a name – he just said, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” I am so glad he didn’t say the name – because it was Judas! He handed the bread to Judas, the Iscariot. The other Judas. Or is it me who is the other Judas?

Jesus had two disciples named Judas. You know a lot about the Iscariot. Me, you only know by name, in a list of those called by Jesus to be among his twelve closest followers. I don’t even make every list – only Luke’s gospel includes me.

But I was there, day in, day out, traveling with him, helping to heal the sick, proclaim the Good News to those who would listen. I was with him in the rain, in the mud, in the sunshine, at the dinner tables. We never knew what was going to happen next. Only that he could transform the worst circumstances into something with life and hope.

The other Judas was with us through it all too, committed. What could have happened? I saw how upset he was a few nights ago at dinner, when Mary poured all this expensive ointment on Jesus’ feet. He looked like a walking thunder cloud. Would that be enough to cause him to sell Jesus out?

Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do,” and Judas left the room. Left our company. We thought maybe he’d gone to pick up some supplies before the Sabbath began tomorrow…

I still believe Jesus can transform the worst circumstances into something with life and hope. But even this?

You’ve probably been at some tense family meals in your life…  you may even have known betrayal. How does it help our faith to know Jesus experienced those things? Can we spare some sympathy for Judas Iscariot? Can we forgive those who have betrayed us? Now’s a good time to start if we haven’t… we can begin by asking God to give us the grace to see that person as God sees them, with compassion. And then allow God’s grace to take hold of us, gradually or all at once. New life…

You are welcome to join my congregations for online worship at 7 this evening – here is the link. Our Holy Week line-up of mostly online services is here.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for Holy Wednesday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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