Judas and the Night of Betrayal
by Elizabeth Menon by Elizabeth Menon

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Over the centuries, Christianity has portrayed Judas as the betrayer -- the disciple who took the thirty pieces of silver from the high priests, and the traitor with qualities such as greed, hypocrisy and unfaithfulness. There is no denying the fact that it was him who 'Handed over Jesus' to the priests on that night at the Calvary. One should remember here that it was Jesus who chose Judas to be one of his disciples. And it was God's will that the Scriptures be fulfilled. Jesus is clearly depicted as one who is in control of his destiny and nothing in the world can take away that spiritual aura and confidence.

The name Judas represents evil in the Christian history -- German law even forbids parents to give a child the name Judas! According to the four Gospels, Judas was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus and the treasurer of the group. One wonder why Judas is talked about in the literature more than any other disciples, especially when he was the least talked about in the Bible.

Jesus told Judas, "What you are about to do, do quickly"; 'The handing over', on the night of the betrayal, was according to the scriptures -- an act of God and therefore, should the person who carried out the will of God be ridiculed, slighted or demonised? When Judas found that his Master was condemned, he was overcome with remorse and tried to return the money. As the priests refused to accept it, Judas threw the thirty pieces of silver and hanged himself. One could argue here that Judas truly believed that his Master was too powerful to be captured by the high priests and therefore, he was heart broken at what happened.

He said, during the Last Supper, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me- one who is eating with me. The son of man will go just as it is written about him". (Mark14: 21). "Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani", Jesus cried out at the ninth hour, which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" As he gave up his spirit, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, earth shook and the rocks split. (Matt 27: 46,51). "Donít be alarmed", a young man in white robe told the three women who took spices to the tomb on the third day- very early in the morning, "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen"! (Mark16: 6). This is the story of the agony in Gethsemane on Good Friday and the ecstasy that followed with the resurrection of Jesus, the only Son of God. One could argue the logic behind calling it 'Good Friday', the day Jesus was crucified: His death brought forgiveness to all and therefore it is 'Good news'.

We all celebrated the Millennium preparing a long time for the big occasion; but do we know why we had the celebration? Jesus of Nazareth who was born 2000 years ago came to die for the people, to bridge the gap between mankind and God. Jesus said, "Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt4: 4). Over the centuries Christians have also used Lent as an opportunity to improve their physical, mental and spiritual health. Though Christians vary in their attitude towards fasting most will agree that Lent is a good time for some positive thinking and perhaps viewing it as an alternate therapy or as 'Spiritual anti toxins'! One need not be very religious to give up something for Lent - giving up smoking, drinking and a conscious effort to treat other fellow beings with kindness would only be a boost to anyone's well being.

There have been many paintings based on the Last Supper and the betrayal by Judas. The most famous of them all is the 'Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci that represents the scene when Jesus told his disciples that one of them was going to betray him. As soon as Judas went, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him'. (John13: 27, 31). Jesus added, "But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way". "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations". (Luke24: 45-47).

Christianity accepts Jesus as, the only Son of God and it is important to remember that other religions accept Jesus in other versions. Muslims regard Jesus as a prophet and messenger of Allah, many Jews find him a teacher, Hindus respect him as someone who reached the highest level of consciousness and the Buddhists regard him as a figure of compassion. One hopes that we learn to have tolerance of fellow beings and understanding of other religions enabling us to live harmoniously, without having to resort to violence to settle our different views and opinions. The suffering of Jesus was helped by the action of Judas, the original betrayer, who only fulfilled the prophecies. Perhaps, one should spare a moment here for Judas who believed in the power of Jesus, without whose action the prophecies would not have been fulfilled.

© E Menon

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