My Thoughts

Archetypal Traitor or Truest Disciple?

For the past two thousand years, the name of Judas Iscariot has been synonymous with traitor. But is this designation deserved? Is there perhaps a reason why Judas betrayed Jesus? Was it even a betrayal at all?

The Judas Kiss

But Jesus understood it and said to them, Why are you troubling the woman? She has done a good work to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not have me always. But this one who poured the perfume on my body did it as for my burial. And truly I say to you, Wherever this my gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told as a memorial to her. Matthew 26:10-13

It is clear from the above passage that Jesus knows he is about to die. I believe this is a deliberate plan and not a premonition, but more on that later. For now, we see that Jesus knows he is about to die.

Then one of the twelve, called Judah of Iscariot, went to the high priests; and he said to them, What are you willing to give me, if I deliver him to you? And they promised him thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:14-15

Here, Judas is making his plans to hand Jesus over to the authorities. I believe this was done by prior arrangement with Jesus himself. And I believe he asked for money not because he wanted it, but because if he didn’t the authorities would have suspected a plot.

And while they were eating he said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray me. And they felt very sad, and began to say to him one by one, Is it I, my Lord? And he answered, saying, He who dips his hand with me in the dish will betray me. The Son of man is going just as it is written concerning him; but woe to the man by whose hand the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been far better for that man never to have been born. Then Judah the traitor answered, saying, Master, perhaps it is I? Jesus said to him, You say that. Matthew 26:21-25

The Last Supper

“The Son of man is going just as it is written concerning him.” Jesus is acting in order to fulfill a prophecy. Sure sounds like a deliberate plan.

When Jesus sits down with his disciples for the Passover meal, he announces that one of them will betray him. They ask who and he responds with, “He who dips his hand with me in the dish will betray me.” Well, that’s easy. All each disciple has to do to ensure he is not the betrayer is to avoid dipping his hand in the dish at the same time Jesus does. This is not a prediction. It is a request for a volunteer. If Judas really had been sneaking around plotting to betray Jesus, why ask if he is the traitor? He would have known for sure that he was and if he had any hopes of making a clean get away with his thirty pieces of silver he would have been more inclined to say nothing in order to avoid the wrath of the other disciples. As I see it, the more likely scenario is that Jesus had discussed this with his disciples on a previous occasion, expressed his need for someone to betray him and only Judas had the stomach for it. In the end Judas couldn’t live with his actions. He ended up returning the silver and hanging himself. That combined with two thousand years of vilification has rendered true the words, “It would have been far better for that man never to have been born.” Jesus knew what he was asking.

Judas Suicide

I cannot claim credit for having thought of this alternative interpretation on my own. It was pointed out to me about twenty years ago, but after reading the words, I had to agree. Imagine my excitement when, in 2006, National Geographic provided confirmation when it published an article about the then-newly translated Gospel of Judas. In this document, Jesus sets Judas aside as being special and imparts to him teachings not shared with the other disciples. He tells Judas, “you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.” In other words, Judas will free Jesus from his earthly body.

The entire translation of the Judas Gospel can be found here: www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/_pdf/GospelofJudas.pdf

What do you think? Was Judas the ultimate traitor or has he been unjustly accused?


8 Comments

  • Dale Long

    1

    Whoa, crickets? I liked this. I love when people look at things from a different angle than the norm. I especially love it when it's done with an air of openness to encourage conversation and not to beat brows. Could be a tricky subject though. Not everybody is as receptive to different interpretations. I'd definitely watch a show on the History Channel on this subject.

    • Lisa

      2

      Religion is always a tricky subject. And while I don't believe the question of Judas's motivation makes any difference whatsoever to the Easter story as a whole, there are certainly those who are very attached to the idea of Judas as a traitor. I would also love to see the History Channel do a documentary about this. Maybe we should start a letter writing campaign.

  • Steph

    3

    While I do believe Judas makes all the difference to the Easter story, i have believed for a long time that he was special and yes not really a traitor. His background suggests he was no fisherman. He came from an influential family and he had political aspirations. He knew the high priests and moved in the same circles. with the political unrest in the land, i think he wanted to force change.After al he chose to follow the man who was supposed to bring about that change but it moved too slowly for him. While i dont think he planned it with Jesus they both knew what he would do. He also did not need the money.He was very wealthy.I believe he was truly skocked when Jesus went along with his captures and not encourage a phycial revolt for change. My thoughts...

    • Lisa

      4

      That is definitely another potential interpretation of the Biblical text. Thanks for sharing, Steph.

  • Judas Dizzy Ventura

    5

    Unjustly accused, I believe the gospel of judas, I have a copy of the natgeo book the Lost gospel of Judas, found in the year 1978 If i remember it correct, it dated the same time as matt mark luke john

    • Lisa

      6

      Long before the publication of the Judas Gospel, a wise woman once pointed out to me that even the biblical story sounded more like an assignment than a prediction. So, I was very excited to see confirmation when National Geographic ran the story.

      • Vinio Jubilee

        7

        Excellent!!

      • Vinio Jubilee

        8

        The Son of man is going just as it is written concerning him; but woe to the man by whose hand the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been far better for that man never to have been born. Then Judah the traitor answered, saying, Master, perhaps it is I? Jesus said to him, You say that. Matthew 26:21-25 In above verses, there are some information make me really curious: 1. Why Jesus called himself "Son of Man" throughout the bible while he never had any father but only a mother? Jewish genealogy is determined only by the seed of the father. Jesus was never called Jesus ben joseph. So, jesus is not an israelite according to God's law. 2. Why didn't Jesus simply say: I am going just as it is written concerning myself, if son of man is himself? Very intriguing. 3. If jesus is not the same person of "son of man", then there are two disciples jesus mentioned: one is Judas Iskariot, his true disciple, who will sacrifice his flesh for Jesus, and the other who betrayed him is not judas iskariot, but thomas, cause the real name of thomas is Judas Thomas Didymus.