Two bishops have inspired this reflection: Michael Burrows (Cashel, Ferns & Ossory) and Michael Ipgrave (Lichfield) – the latter directing me to Mynheer. Thank you, Michaels. I hope you’re not embarrassed to have your names associated with this.
Do you know this picture by Nicholas Mynheer? (used with his permission).
Two women embracing. Look at the background. The artist names the women as the mother of Jesus and the mother of Judas. Such sadness at the death of their sons.
I have a soft spot for Judas, bravado and posturing imploding to catastrophe. I’ve been there. Telling fibs to wiggle out of trouble. I’ve been there too. What was in his mind?
Was Judas disappointed with Jesus? Did they hatch a plot to have Jesus arrested deliberately in order to increase the profile of the “Jesus movement”? If so, it went horribly wrong.
Was Judas angry with Jesus? Perhaps Jesus did not live up to Judas’s expectations of being enough of a political revolutionary? The truth is that we never live up to the expectations of others because they’re not ours.
Was Judas Jesus’ special friend – a second disciple whom Jesus loved? There is no doubt about it, they were friends. And when Judas realised the enormity of his actions he couldn’t live with the shame and guilt. Just think how much hatred came into the world as a result of the way in which the Judas story was written up in the Gospels. I don’t know how the church can live with that shame.
Whatever was in Judas’s mind, his actions liberated Jesus. He started the process that allowed the Christ-imago to break free from the earthed cocoon.
I’d like to give Judas a cuddle. There’s a lot of him in me. Thinking about the distraught and desolate mothers makes me wonder about the fathers. Men grieve too.
You may know this story: the Vicar visiting the school asked, after some discussion of Easter story, “why did Jesus descend into hell?” After a silence, a small voice piped up “to rescue his friend Judas”.
It’s a wonderfully expressive picture. The eyes and the colours say so much of grief. There is a stained glass window commemorating Judas somewhere. Do you know it?