Saturday, November 20, 2010

How did Judas Iscariot die?

The bible does not tell us how Judas died physically, but it tells us how he died spiritually - he went and hanged himself.

This description of his death is figurative. It follows from the teaching of Jesus, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) A man's cross is the implement upon which he must hang himself in order to follow Jesus.

The cross for Judas was the covenant that he had made with the chief priests to hand Jesus over to them. (Matthew 26:14-16) Judas had made this covenant while he was lost, when the devil put into his heart to betray Jesus. (John 13:2)

Jesus allowed Judas to betray him in order that the scripture might be fulfilled (John 13:18), but then he intervened.

Jesus taught, "... if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone ... ." (Matthew 18:15)

The notion of an heel of offense (Psalms 41:9) suggested to Jesus the way to confront Judas privately, though he was assembled with the twelve - the footwashing. (John 13) He spoke indirectly to Judas when he spoke to Peter and the assembly, "... ye are clean, but not all," (John 13:10) and, "He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." (John 13:18) By using this figurative language to describe the betrayal, Jesus enabled himself to convey symbolically his message of forgiveness to Judas - he washed the "heel lifted up against [him]."

By this cleansing, the devil was cast out. Jesus gained his brother according to his sayings, and Judas no longer desired to hand him over to the chief priests.

That which was lost was saved. (Matthew 18:11)

However, it was the hour for Jesus to depart out of this world unto his Father. (John 13:1) Jesus was in the process of laying down his life with power. (John 10:17,18) As part of his exercise of that power, he now assigned to Judas, who had already bound himself to do it when he was lost, the task of handing him over to the chief priests.

Satan entered into Judas when Jesus identified him as the one to hand him over. (John 13:26,27) Satan was opposed to handing Jesus over. (Matthew 16:21-23) Satan did everything within his power to make Judas refuse the assignment. Judas began to learn what he meant when Jesus said, "... woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. (Matthew 26:24)

Judas recalled the response of Jesus when Satan manifested himself in Peter, "... If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24) Now, Judas realized that the covenant that he had made with the chief priests had become his cross - the implement upon which he would have to hang himself in order to follow Jesus. He put his shoulder into it, arose, and went out into the night. (John 13:30)

The Via Dolorosa for Judas led him to the palace of the high priest, to Gethsemane, back to the palace of the high priest, to the hall of judgment (where he saw that Jesus was  condemned), and to the the temple, where he confessed to the chief priests his sin and Jesus, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." (Matthew 27:4,5) From the temple he went and hanged himself.

Throughout the course of carrying his cross, Judas contained his emotions. After he left the temple, he walked until he fell to the ground, facefirst. His grief gushed forth from him like water from the bursting of a dam. Today, we would say that he cried his eyes or his heart out. Then, the figurative language for such emotion referred to the bowels. (Acts 1:18) In this state of total repentance, Judas lay down his life of sin. In laying down his life for the sake of Jesus, he found his life.

I offer these words only in my own name.

 Judas Iscariot (Where Greatest Was Need)

     So little their faith that the lost He did save,
     it's not part of life but belongs in the grave.
     Were it only as large as the smallest of seed,
     they'd believe His success where greatest was need.

     The heel lifted up they see rightly not clean;
     the reason He washed it they can't seem to glean.
     Were only their faith as the smallest of seed,
     they'd believe His success where greatest was need.

     Was He delivered by Satan or God?
     They want it both ways, and think it not odd.
     Were only their faith as the smallest of seed,
     they'd believe His success where greatest was need.

     If “take up his cross” were words Judas heard,
     his hanging of self should not seem absurd.
     Were only their faith as the smallest of seed,
     they'd believe His success where greatest was need.

     Thirty pieces of silver they say sold Him short,
     but selling His failure's the sale He'll abort.
     Were only their faith as the smallest of seed,
     they'd believe His success where greatest was need. 

 Judas Iscariot: Errand Boy, Not Treasurer

Because Judas had the bag, some of the disciples of Jesus thought Jesus told him to run one errand or another for the group at John 13:27,28,29. If we consider their thoughts conversely, then Judas had the bag because he ran errands for the group. This is the scriptural support for the idea that the role of Judas in the group was errand boy. This idea is thus more fully supported by scripture than the idea that he was treasurer for the group, an idea supported only by the fact that he had the bag.

The establishment of an office of treasurer would be an act of formality not characteristic of Jesus, a man not given to formalism. In fact, when we consider it from this perspective, the idea that the group of Jesus and his disciples had officers – a president, a secretary, or a treasurer – is comical.

Beyond this, when we understand that Judas was only an errand boy, then we see an additional aspect of Judas in which he was the least of those given to Jesus by his Father (he was also a devil, a thief, and the only one lost). It is another aspect of Judas that adds to our marvel that he should be the greatest. 

How Think Ye, If A Man Have Twelve?

Arising from the table, Jesus left the eleven to go into the mountains to search out and return the one which had gone astray. Laying aside his garments, girding himself with a towel, pouring water into a basin, and beginning to wash the feet of his disciples: these were the steps Jesus took on his journey to the mountains.

“You are not all clean,” he said, but he was beyond the range within which the eleven could hear and comprehend his words. “You are not all clean,” his words echoed clearly in the mountains, but only the one whose heel was lifted up against him heard and comprehended those words, because he alone was in that wilderness where Jesus was calling. The spirit of the words of Jesus was not, “Now you have done it,” but the spirit of his words was, “Come.” They were the words of the good shepherd.

His sheep heard his voice and came, and Jesus washed the heel that was lifted up against him. Thereafter, his sheep followed him to the finish. When Judas heard the voice of Satan within him again, he heard it as the voice of a stranger. Satan was opposed to those things which Jesus said must happen at Jerusalem. God, not Satan, delivered his son for the life of the world.

I offer this understanding of the foot washing only in my own name. 

 Why Judas Was The Disciple Jesus Loved

For the last 17 years, I've cared for a colony of cats. Some of them have been beautiful. Some of them have had sweet dispositions. Kittens are ever adorable. I think I've loved them all.

However, at any moment during those years, I could have told you which cat I loved. It was the one stranded in a tree. It was the one with symptoms of upper respiratory infection. It was the one suffering seizures multiple times a day. It was the one suffering the last stage of kidney failure. I could go on.

When the hour came for him to depart out of this world, only one of his apostles was lost and in peril of perdition. I have little doubt that, at that hour, the disciple whom Jesus loved was Judas Iscariot. 

 Jesus As Orchestrator

Sometimes Jesus cited scripture to show others what they must do to fulfill it. Such is the case at Mark 14:27 (Matthew 26:31).

The reason Jesus said, “ it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered,” was to orchestrate the behavior of the eleven to achieve the desired result that nothing be lost. (John 18:9)

The fleeing of the disciples from the scene of the arrest was not a failure of the disciples to be loyal to Jesus, as it has been misunderstood to be by Christians and non-Christians alike, but it was a success by them in discerning the will of Jesus and in denying themselves in order to follow him. (Matthew 16:24)

The disciples of Jesus loved him and wanted to prove their loyalty to him. They wanted to stand by him as he faced his adversaries. They all said, “If I should die with you, I will not deny you in any wise.” (Mark 14:31) When they said it, though, they did not realize that if they should die with him willingly, they would be denying him selfishly by that act – they would be savoring neither a thing of God, who scripted the scattering, nor a thing of Jesus, who saw in it the achievement of the result that nothing be lost – they would be savoring a thing of men. This is why they were offended in him: He denied them the opportunity to stand with him and fight, to demonstrate their loyalty in a way that men understand.

When Jesus said, “it is written . . . ,” he established a cue to signal them to scatter. When it became necessary that they scatter, Jesus said, “ . . . but the scriptures must be fulfilled.” (Mark 14:49b) “And they all forsook him and fled.” (Mark 14:50) It is unlikely that they understood that they had to flee in order to follow him until he cued them, until he told them that what was written must be fulfilled. This is obviously true of Simon Peter, who, before Jesus cued them, attacked Malchus, the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. (John 18:10) Nevertheless, when he cued them, they forsook him physically to be with him spiritually. They obeyed his declaration that what was written must be fulfilled.

Today, those who say that the disciples of Jesus were deficient in their duty to him when they fled from the scene of the arrest are guilty of savoring not the thing of God, but that of men. As a consequence, they judge the disciples of Jesus in this matter according not to righteous judgment, but to appearance.

If you have difficulty understanding the case of Mark 14:27 as an example of Jesus orchestrating the behavior of the eleven, it is unlikely you will readily understand the case of John 13:18 as an example of Jesus orchestrating the behavior of the one.


Jesus Never Said "Betray"

Simon Peter was confident of his loyalty to Jesus, and he was not hesitant to say so, even if it meant contradicting Jesus to his face. When Jesus said that they all would be offended because of him that night, Simon Peter spoke up promptly, “Though all shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended.” (Matthew 26:31,33) Then, when Jesus said to Simon that before the cock crow he would deny him three times, again Simon spoke up without hesitation, “Though I should die with you, yet will I not deny you.” (Matthew 26:34,35) This evidence alone, without resort to the strictly semantic argument that the word “betray” is a mistranslation of the Greek, should be sufficient to reject the idea that Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me.” It is incredible that Simon Peter responded to such a statement with the words, “Is it I?” (Matthew 26:21,22)

What Jesus did say was, “One of you shall deliver me.” That is the statement to which each asked, “Is it I?” His statement conveyed no idea that the act was anything other than an act of cooperation with him. In fact, he described the one who would deliver him as one who was cooperating with him: “He that dips his hand with me in the dish.” (Matthew 26:23; “dips with me in the dish,” Mark 14:20; and “the hand . . . is with me on the table,” Luke 22:21) That is what Jesus said, and that is how his disciples understood his words.

I suppose that most readers of the gospels have had little or no reason to doubt the tradition that Jesus spoke openly to his disciples that one of them would betray him. Perhaps even after considering this argument they will still have insufficient reason to doubt it. But let the reader beware that the Jesus who said, “One of you shall deliver me,” is not the same Jesus as the one who said, “One of you shall betray me.” The Jesus who said “betray” is the product of imagination under the influence of Satan; and the one who receives that Jesus rejects the other, who came in his father's name.

I do not say that most readers are not called, but I say that Judas Iscariot was chosen to hear and to understand the words of Jesus as most readers have not been chosen heretofore.

Still, all of these things I say only in my own name.

John 13 (As a poem)

Jesus knew the hour had come
that soon He should depart,
He loved them all unto the last,
him tugging at His heart.

The devil having done his thing,
his heel was lifted up;
but this thing, too, was given Him –
and us if we would sup.

He laid His garments to the side.
A towel He made His girdle.
With water in a basin now,
He'd overcome this hurdle.

Their feet He took them in His hands
and washed them every one.
He washed their feet though they were clean
except for Simon's son.

He came to Simon. Peter said,
“Lord, do you wash my feet?”
“What I do now you do not know.”
(Be patient. Keep your seat.)

“Never shall You wash my feet.”
(I'll never stand for that.)
“If not, with Me you'll have no part.
You don't know what I'm at.”

“Not just my feet – my hands! My head!”
(With you I need my part.)
Before He spoke, Jude noticed this –
his way His eyes did dart.

“Who's bathed needs nothing else to do;
he's clean as clean can be,
but you're not all.” (Jude has his fault
that just the two could see.)

The covenant was made in stealth
so only he would know.
The darting eyes spoke otherwise.
Here's what those eyes did show.

They showed that Jesus knew the tale
that only Jude should tell,
but this He kept between them two –
He'd taught them this as well.

He'd taught them, “If a brother fail,
to him go tell his fault;
and more than that, for your sake, too,
forgive him as you ought.”

So now His eyes accomplished this;
his washing did it, too.
Examples of these lessons, here,
He gave for me and you.

But if our heart is hardened
against those we have judged,
our minds made up and nothing said
could ever make us budge,

if forever we're against them,
and we always hold the grudge,
in the arteries of life we serve
as nothing more than sludge.

He heard the words of Jesus.
He's the only one who could
because He kept it private –
that's the way He said they should.

So taking up His garments
and once again His seat,
He asked them if they understood
regarding washing feet.

Of course they couldn't understand
just what example He had given,
but afterward they'd hear the tale
that Judas was forgiven.

And now the hour was well advanced
for him to take his leave.
He'd go the way His Father said
and leave them all to grieve

He'd eat the bread His Father gave
(the work that He should do).
He'd give his life for all the world;
His Father gave it, too.

But that the scripture be fulfilled,
He should not eat alone:
one should eat His bread with Him,
and that one of His own.

The scripture said that it should be
whose heel was lifted up –
the one who should deliver Him
and that way share His cup.

With trespass now forgiven him,
they two could share His bread –
the devil wouldn't call the shots,
but Jesus would instead.

It troubled Him to think of it
(the woe not His alone);
the one He saved would rue his life,
his flesh and, too, his bone.

The servant's not the greater
nor is he that one does send,
but the greater is received
by who receives him in the end.

He told them one should give Him up,
and that one of the twelve.
Although each asked if it were he,
no further did they delve –

except for Simon Peter.
Simon beckoned to his son
to ask of Jesus secretly
which one should be the one.

After he had asked Him,
the Lord said here's the sign:
the one who gets this sop
when I have dipped it in the wine.

And after He had dipped it,
He gave it to the one
who just then asked the question –
He gave to Simon's son.

Flesh and blood were given
so the last became the first:
an end would come to hunger,
an end would come to thirst.

Judas only filled the bill;
He couldn't choose another –
He had to choose and send that one
that was His new gained brother.

Having then received the sop,
now Satan entered in.
The adversary came to tempt
and battle from within.

“Is it I should give You up?”
(You cast that from my heart!)
“Do as you've said and quickly now,
by Scripture it's your part.”

So at the words of Jesus,
he got up from his place –
his act of glorifying
all would think a great disgrace.

Having then received the sop,
he went out; it was night.
With both God and Satan in him,
he'd reacted to his plight.

Things of men and things of God
were whirling in his head –
the question he considered,
were it better he were dead?

Destined for perdition
(the condition he'd been in),
he'd come to hate this life of his –
he was a man of sin.

Yet, Jesus came to save him –
this he'd heard Him say.
Could He really save one
who'd gone so far astray?

Now it hardly mattered;
his course he now had set –
he'd plod this road unto the end
despite his deep regret.

He really couldn't say to Him,
“Lord, I've changed my mind” –
when Jesus spoke, “You've said,”
it seemed as if to bind.

He'd heard the words of Simon,
“Lord, be it far from thee;”
and now he had that spirit
from which teaching said to flee.

“This shall not be unto thee?”
How could he say these words
when Jesus had recoiled at them
as not of God but for the birds?

1 comment:

  1. Not bad inmyownwords. But the more metaphorical you can see it, the better. For just what is it that falls into a field at Passover time, or towards the beginning of spring (as he is said to have done), and after splitting apart in the middle, then spills out its vital organs to mingle with the soil? If you can see an allegorical description of the sowing and germinating of a seed, you may be ready for The House of Judas.