22 April 2011

Hearing the Passion Story anew

Last Sunday in church, we read the whole Passion story from the gospel of Matthew: from Jesus'entry into Jerusalem until his death and burial. Then this past week, Matthijs and I listened to Bach's Matthew Passion. It was good simply to listen again to the story.

What struck me most this time was Judas. I've always found it strange that Jesus, in front of the other disciples, says that Judas will betray him (perhaps it is more strange that the gospels record no apparent reaction from the rest of the disciples). Yet, this time I found it less strange - a lot had been going on that week, and I expect that the disciples were all a bit overwhelmed at that time - a suspicion that seems confirmed by their inability to stay awake with Jesus to pray. And then when everything happens with Gethsamene and Jesus being captured, it is no surprise that they followed their gut reaction to disappear.

Judas's realization that what he did was wrong - that he had participated in sending an innocent man to his death - also stayed with me. Judas often becomes an easy 'bad guy.' Yet, his recognition that he was wrong, his desire to change things, and his utter despair over what happened (despair that caused him to kill himself) challenge my perceptions of him as evil. Wrong: yes; evil: no. And the saddest part of the story is that Judas killed himself on Good Friday before ever knowing what makes the day good: that his sin was part of God's plan to redeem the sin of the whole world.

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