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Gospel Reflections » International

“One Of You Will Betray Me”

March 27, 2013

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We will never quite understand the mind of the traitor, so the character of Judas remains the most puzzling of all the close friends of Jesus. Why did he do it? What did he hope to gain? Why did he betray his Master into the hands of his enemies?


The conjectures are many. In all probability, Judas like the other apostles, expected a political coup from Jesus, something which would establish him as messiah, and reinstate the ancient glories of the Judaic monarchy. Was this act of Judas an attempt to force Jesus’s hand?


That the leader of all Israel must be a political figure was taken for granted. No one, including his apostles, accepted the legacy of a ‘suffering messiah’, as Jesus painstakingly kept proclaiming.


If this is so, then the chief priests found a willing accomplice in Judas. Each of them, for their own reasons, wanted Jesus out of the way. The chief priests were looking for someone to inform them on hiss whereabouts so he could be kidnapped, perhaps assassinated. And Judas agreed to provide that information, for a price.


Certainly the presence of his betrayer at the last paschal meal was a source of bitter grief and upset to Jesus. He drops hints that ‘someone’ present will betray him. The group erupts in consternation, each one eager to clear himself before his companions, no one listening to what the other says. And Jesus’s indication of who the traitor is passes by unnoticed. “Do what you have to, and be quick about it,” Jesus tells Judas, having passed a tasty morsel from the dish to him, a sign of special affection. And as John observes in his Gospel, as soon as Judas received the morsel, Satan entered into him. Quietly he left the room on his errand of treachery.

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