Saturday, August 25, 2007

Judas, the Traitor?

A traitor is someone who betrays. Being a traitor requires first relationship. It can be as close as best friends; a husband and wife; an officemate; or the relationship can be as far as the Philippines is to a Filipino; or as an employee is to a company.

And because that person is a friend or an employee or of a particular nationality he or she is expected to act in the interest of the relationship which makes the proverbial knife in the back by this person to be one of the most painful assaults anyone can inflict another.

Maybe I defined the above mentioned word in a far less than attractive way a dictionary might have. I became focused with the definition of the word traitor while hanging out one afternoon in the religion chatrooms of Yahoo. Was Judas such a bad man, one asked, for initiating what was planned all along, that Jesus die on the cross for our sins? Fundamentalists in the room would say absolutely yes without even considering how valid the question was or how idiotic the whole logic of the Gospel fails scrutiny.

Betrayal’s most important element is surprise. We all hate the idea of someone betraying us because if you can’t trust persons inside of your circle, friends for that matter, who can you trust. So was Jesus surprised?

As I recall, most stories say that up until the last supper Jesus showed no foreknowledge of a traitor in his midst. There was no word nor sign that he felt in danger or suspects that he had a spy in his inner circle or at least that he had someone untrustworthy. One would expect a man like Jesus who has made as powerful enemies as he did to develop a healthy (or unhealthy) sense of paranoia but he was all business and relaxed. He knew the persons around him and he was at ease with what he had, whatever the reason.

Maybe he was truly surprised? Not likely, because from the moment of his birth up until he was given up to his enemies he knew that he was meant to die for the sins of the world. John 6:64 gave signs of this precognition, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him”.

He was God. How can one as they say ‘pull a fast one’ on the Almighty? And in the end Judas did not ‘pull a fast one’, in fact at last supper time he was asked to continue by no less than Jesus himself.

So where is the surprise there? The normal reaction would be to ask ‘why do this to me Judas’, instead he was told to go on and do what he planned. No surprise, no betrayal.

Anyway why hate Judas when he was never truly a friend? Maybe at the very least we could say Jesus was careless. If God knew all that was to happen then betrayal is not the word but suicide. Or to use the analogy given by my friend, it was all scripted.

But sad to say, fundamentalists being fundamentalists, will not scrutinize the bible even if deserves to be so. The four accepted Gospels say Judas is a traitor so he is one. He even showed remorse after ‘Satan’ left him, or so the story goes, and committed suicide.

Let’s try that idea. Judas was a true friend up until the moment of ‘possession’ or being blinded by silver to betray his Lord and Master. Maybe Jesus did not have the all-knowing powers of God, despite all religious doctrine that says that he was one. But then doctrine also states that he was meant to die for our sins. How do you go around that?

We all hate Judas; call him traitor to the point of putting a picture of him in the dictionary next to the word ‘traitor’. Why hasn’t the entire Christian world ask the question what harm did he do? Did Judas do anything that wasn’t expected of him?

But wait maybe there was another plan. Maybe Jesus expected to establish the ‘Kingdom of God’ right there and then until he was struck down by a traitor in the 12 disciples? Perhaps it was a case of ‘oooh we were so close until Satan and his man Judas interfered.’

No. He was meant to die for our sins and I have heard that hundreds of times in masses and seen it on TV during Holy Week. A sacrificial lamb was what they call it as I remember, enough for the sins of the world. Besides, could God possibly fail in anything; I don’t think the religious types would like that.

Taking into full account the entire story and not just the kissing, other words come to mind besides traitor: heel tops the list as friend of mine has suggested, every story basically needs a villain. There is also patsy perhaps because Judas was manipulated; Fall guy, because he took the fall for someone else’s actions.

There is just no getting around that there was no other ‘mission’ for Jesus than to get nailed on the cross and it went “surprisingly” well in spite of a “traitor”. Judas did what was required.

So what will it be, poster boy of abused friendships, broken hearts, and lost opportunities; or dare I say it, the ultimate friend who sacrificed it all?

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