New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 37

Finding the Humanity in Judas Iscariot Seeing Judas as a Three-Dimensional Character Offers Us a New Lens on Redemption The Rev. Christopher A. Barber 1 T o the modern mind, the name Judas is synonymous with traitor, and this traces right back to the disciple who betrayed God: Judas Iscariot. Who was this man and how did he fall so far from grace? How did he go from walking, teaching and healing with Jesus, to being loathed by Christians from the earliest church until today? How did he go from living with the source of life to taking his own life? Was he a fraud, targeting Jesus as an easy source of cash? Was he a man beset by disillusionment, driven to the brink by his disappointment in the mission and ministry of Jesus? Was he a sleeper cell who somehow insinuated himself into Jesus’ inner circle, who bided his time until he had Him where he wanted Him? Was he the devil? Or was he merely a pawn in a game too big for him to understand? Seeking to understand Judas Iscariot leads us to regard him as a three- dimensional human being rather than a flat icon of villainy, and this in turn offers us an unexpected new lens on our own redemption. Judas in One Dimension Judas doesn’t get as much attention as other lesser disciples. There is neither clear background of where he is from nor is there a telling of his call to discipleship. The four evangelists unanimously paint Judas as a one-dimensional character. Reading his story, he seems to be included for one purpose only: to betray Jesus. 1  With thanks to Dr. Annika Barber for reviewing and offering suggestions on syntax and flow. 103