Judas: Spy Wednesday

thirty-pieces-of-silverToday is known as “Spy Wednesday”, a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot for thirty silver coins. This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6. We know that Judas’ betrayal was but part of a larger vortex of events that would lead to Jesus’ arrest, trails, scourging, crucifixion, and death. Only Matthew (Matthew 27:3-6 ) narrates Judas’ own death.

For all this, Judas’ name is synonymous with betrayal, and Dante, in Canto XXXIV of his “Inferno,” places him in the very lowest circle of Hell, being devoured eternally by a three-faced, bat-winged devil. Virtually every image we carry about Judas comes from Dante or a later artistic portrayal of the man – e.g., reddish hair color (Harvey Keitel in “The Last Temptation of Christ”) or his fiery disposition (“Jesus Christ Superstar”). Continue reading

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Palm Sunday of the Passion: trials, failures, and betrayals

Jesus Condemned by michael o'brianThe Jewish Trial Before the Sanhedrin (26:57-68) The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website.

R.T France (2007, p.1016) writes, “This is the point at which Jesus’ death is sealed; all that follows involving the Roman prefect is only the formal implementation of a verdict already decided by the Jewish authorities.” This is a conflict that has been growing unabated since the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and has reached the point where the religious authorities are simply looking for the basis upon which they can seal Jesus’ fate. But for the moment he is in their power and he Jesus has preciously little to say. The events unfold and Jesus appears as helpless before the hearing by Jewish religious leaders. It is not likely that this is a formal trial that occurs at Caiaphas’ house, but rather an ad hoc meeting of senior people to agree on, first, the need to have Jesus executed (this being a matter of Jewish law), and secondly, an appropriate tactic to induce the Roman governor to impose the death penalty (which would, of course, require a charge of which Roman law could take cognizance). The formal Jewish trial begins, as suggested by 27:1, later when the whole Sanhedrin has assembled. Whatever the official status of the gathering, the Evangelists leave us in no doubt that it was not an unprejudiced hearing, but was convened specifically to “put him to death.” Continue reading

Palm Sunday of the Passion: betrayer and betrayed

Entry_Into_Jerusalem1The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website:

Commentary. This very long narrative will be broken into small passages that may help the reader to focus and reflect on specific sections. The general outline listed in the previous post is provided for you to locate these smaller passages within the larger framework. The narrow framework is taken from Boring’s outline of the Matthean Passion narrative. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Time of Testing

Of course we all know that after the meal with his disciples that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Actually, no gospel says that.  Matthew and Mark wrote that he went to a garden. John says he went to Gethsemane. Fuse them all together and you get the “Garden of Gethsemane.”  What does Luke say? Luke only calls it “the place.”  There is no garden specifically mentioned nor is Gethsemane.  Is it important? Well, it is a reminder to be attentive to the text before you and not meld the familiar stories and scenes from other sacred writers.  Each sacred writer has something distinctive that can be missed if one fuses all the details from other accounts. Continue reading

Betrayal and Arrest

judaskiss_143 Then, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” 45 He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him. 46 At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. 47 One of the bystanders drew his sword, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his ear. 48 Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs, to seize me? 49 Day after day I was with you teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. They seized him, 52 but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked. Continue reading

The Betrayal Announced

Last-supper-from-Kremikovtsi-217 When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. 18 And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?” 20 He said to them, “One of the Twelve, the one who dips with me into the dish. 21 For the Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Continue reading

Passover Preparations

Last-supper-from-Kremikovtsi-212 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. 14 Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” 16 The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. Continue reading

A betrayal planned

JudasBetrayal-Giotto10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went off to the chief priests to hand him over to them. 11 When they heard him they were pleased and promised to pay him money. Then he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Mark inserts the beginning of the betrayal into the narrative. It draws a sharp contrast between the selfless devotion of the woman and the treachery planned by his friend. Mark tells us the “what” but not necessarily the “why.” We know that the chief priest and scribed were seeking “a way to arrest him by treachery and put him to death.” (v.1) But they needed a strategy that would avoid a public scene and the possibility of a riot. The offer from Judas was an opportunity to avoid a public disturbance (or even riot). Continue reading

Spy Wednesday

thirty-pieces-of-silverToday is known as “Spy Wednesday”, a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot for thirty silver coins. This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6. We know that Judas’ betrayal was but part of a larger vortex of events that would lead to Jesus’ arrest, trails, scourging, crucifixion, and death. Only Matthew (Matthew 27:3-6 ) narrates Judas’ own death.

For all this, Judas’ name is synonymous with betrayal, and Dante, in Canto XXXIV of his “Inferno,” places him in the very lowest circle of Hell, being devoured eternally by a three-faced, bat-winged devil. Virtually every image we carry about Judas comes from Dante or a later artistic portrayal of the man – e.g., reddish hair color (Harvey Keitel in “The Last Temptation of Christ”) or his fiery disposition (“Jesus Christ Superstar”). Continue reading

The anointing

Mary-anoints1 Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.2 They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. 3 Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 4 Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, 5 “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” 6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. 7 So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” 9 (The) large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, 11 because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him. Continue reading