Revisionist History

I made way yesterday for some comments from the legendary writer, Kurt Vonnegut, in respect to this dust-up between Jesus and Judas. Today, you’ll hear from the not so legendary, C.J.

John has added his editorial comments about his fellow disciple, Judas. He of course is writing through the informed prism of memory – an iridescent lens that offers a wide spectrum of texture and color to past events. However, the palette fails the gospel writer as it concerns Judas. Black is not a color.

Three character flaws are mentioned: Judas will betray Jesus; Judas didn’t give a fig about the poor; and, Judas was a thief. The question that comes to mind is this: How much of this was known in the moment? Certainly, the betrayal wasn’t yet known because it had not yet happened. The other two – antipathy toward the poor and pilfering the ministry money bag – are, at best, a maybe. It would seem that if it was common knowledge that Judas was a thief it could’ve easily been remedied by having a non-thieving disciple in charge of the bookkeeping.

Why is this important to consider? As I mentioned, John’s punditry comes long after the event. His views of Judas have hardened over time. He may have had his early suspicions about Judas, but I suspect they were not fully formed. Judas was just another disciple of the master who had about his person a few things that were annoying. Things that annoy pretty much describe every other creature on the planet. I find myself annoying now and again. Thus, while John may have been indulging in a bit of historical revisionism, sharing “after the fact” facts regarding Judas, it was not so with Jesus. Jesus knew the heart of Judas. He predicted his betrayal. He must have known he was a thief. He challenged his “so called” concern for the poor. And yet, up until the very moment of the kiss of betrayal, Judas remains as part of the inner circle. He is not fired. He will later fire himself.

It is curious. We see these little palace intrigues throughout the Scriptures – an unbeliever in the midst of believers. It seems almost axiomatic. A spawn of Judas will learn the culture, the language, and the norms of the church and carry on for some time. They are often not only drawn to power, they are often given a place of authority – their acting is that good. I’ve voted “yay” for a Judas a time or two in past church meetings. It was only clear that I had done so after that person warmed to the task of their new found influence and began to reek their own unique havoc. It was all so very obvious after the fact.

In the good Lord’s wisdom he said he would allow the weeds and seeds to grow together. The fact that I don’t like that arrangement is of little concern to heaven. It’s meant, I suppose, to keep us on our toes. It’s meant also to make us consider (as did the disciples at the Last Supper when Jesus mentioned a betrayer was in their midst ) that profound question: “Is it me?”