I wonder if Jesus and Judas ever shared a laugh together. Matthew 26 opens with another statement of Scripture regarding Jesus’ prediction of his upcoming death and of course his betrayal. I don’t think I ever really have spent too much time thinking about the betrayal of Jesus. I guess, perhaps, the Bible stories I heard growing up sort of dilute it. When I think about the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest and trial and eventual death, the betrayal doesn’t really sting as much. I know Judas is the bad guy the whole time, right? Even the Gospels themselves cheat us, it seems, by giving away the ending too soon. I think of Matthew 10:4 where Matthew lists the twelve main disciples called by Jesus, ending with “Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” In my mind’s eye, there’s the happy Eleven tagging after Jesus, Peter with foot-in-mouth of course, and trailing at the back is Judas with a little dark rain cloud positioned above his head. O yea, he’s going through the money bag while every one else is turned around also.
So of course when he makes that deal with the religious leaders to give them Jesus, it doesn’t really hit home the way I suppose it’s meant to. I didn’t really expect much of him to begin with. But the man lived and walked with Jesus for 3 years. They camped out on the road together. They probably laughed at a joke together, which for guys can be the closest bonding experience we have outside of a fistfight. He was one of the 12, sent out to do miracles and prepare towns for Jesus’ arrival. He probably got one of those 12 leftover baskets of bread and fish for himself. He saw Jesus collapse into a boat and sleep through a storm tired from the crowds. He saw Jesus weep over the city that stoned the prophets. He had his feet washed the same night of his treachery.
I think that’s one reason why Matthew and the other Gospel writers give it away so early. After all, Judas didn’t just betray Jesus, but the other 11 as well. I’m certain writing about him drew tears to their eyes as they thought about all the times they had spent together on a shared mission with a shared Teacher. So close, yet apparently so far, they found out. Betrayal is devastating, and it seems they wanted to spare the readers from the heartbreak they felt themselves. Certainly the heartbreak that Christ himself felt when betrayed in the torchlit garden by a token of friendship, a kiss. Dramatic plot twists aren’t as fun when you’re on the stage and not in the audience.