Judas the Faithful Betrayer

Judas was paid. Judas, the Great Betrayer, was paid, but in being paid, Christ was then led through the Stations of the Cross, so that he paid. But when Christ paid, we received the most generous of free gifts and, according to the scriptures, Jesus Christ the Messiah was the first to be raised.
Judas was paid. I want to focus on this, because from this - we are told - the rest follows.
The puzzle is this - and always an embarrassment to the Church: that John 13:2 says Judas was the instrument of Satan. Yet it is thanks to Satan that Jesus was able to make the ultimate sacrifice as the suffering servant. How curious that the greatest work of God should rely upon the instrument of the Devil, according to the writer of John. In the mythology of atonement by this interpretation, a great deal (and contradictory) is piled upon Judas. Judas needs, perhaps, an inquest, an investigation, and I offer some thoughts.
I am going to assume it is history, for a moment or two, and assume that Jesus and Judas both knew their Hebrew scriptures. For Psalm 41:9 is a key text that says,
Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, has lifted the heel against me.
A friend betrays. And Zechariah 11:12 has it:
I then said to them, "If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them." So they weighed out my wages thirty shekels of silver.
It says the sum is thirty pieces of silver. The betrayal and the amount had to be right, assuming it is history in those last days as portrayed in the Gospels. (If it is not history then the Gospel writers are doing their task of connecting the new scriptures to the old.)
Well, thirty shekels of silver is 120 denari, or a labourer's wage for nearly a third of a year. So it was a big bribe paid by Caiaphus, the High Priest. It would have been paid in stater, and not Jewish money, and therefore could not have been Temple funds. Therefore it must have been money set aside, perhaps for intelligence. Caiaphus, a quisling of the Romans (many still recognised his father lin law Annas as the legitimate High Priest)... Caiaphus, a quisling of the Romans, had this secular intelligence role. Giving out the money, he was bound to then pass Jesus on to the Roman authorities. It also explains that non-Jewish money could not go back into Temple funds when Judas, apparently, offered it back. So Judas went off and killed himself.
The final supper, the Last Supper, was likely structured around the Seder Meal, the Jewish remembrance and reliving of slavery and the Exodus. In this meal nothing took place to alert the disciples about whom Jesus must have meant was the Betrayer. They did not know, indeed later in John 21:20-21 Simon Peter still does not know. The emphasis is that this future Church leader did not know: he was never involved, so it emphasises. We must ask, though, did Judas really act alone, really give history a push: did he go to Caiaphus in order that the Servant must suffer so that God would bring in the Kingdom?
Caiaphus the Sadducee did not believe in a Messiah. He would call it Kingship. That was enough for the Romans, of course, Judas could have told Caiaphus that Jesus claims to be Messiah: well it was not publically known. Otherwise why would Caiaphus have asked? The problem is that claiming to be Messiah was no religious offence, and if Jesus had committed a religious offence he would have been stoned to death; but that he would be King would disturb the Romans. and he thus carried their cross and was killed upon it.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus wants the burden lifted. But the garden was near to the fort of Antonia, where soldiers were stationed, and outside the city walls, from where also the disciples could escape. Thus Jesus was arrested after the code of a kiss: here we have the first station of the cross.
What do we suppose did happen? Well, I offer some suggestions because, on the face of it, the High Priest or Sanhedrin would not have met together under these circumstances; they would not have tried Jesus on a religious charge as given - divinity at this stage was not an issue, as it was later on for some writers of the Gospels; they would not have passed a death sentence in one sitting; and, if they had, Jesus would have been stoned to death. I personally suggest that Jesus was arrested by the authorities and swiftly taken as a standard and unimportant troublemaker to be killed in the usual cruel fashion - death by collapsed blood-filled lungs on a cross, after (we are told) a remarkably quick period of time of some hours upon the cross rather than the usual days, though after suffering the worst of a severe beating on the way.
What of Judas, who carried out the psalmist's insight and Zechariah's insight? Did Jesus know, and how? Certainly with Jesus arrested there was no one to support Judas, and a Jesus held in the hands of the authorities could not support him and forgive him.
Here is a speculative suggestion. Judas Iscariot: Jewish militant. Iscariot can mean Sicarii or Dagger Men, an extreme militant. Sicarii were militants, and there were many about. The was the Jewish War of 66 to 70 CE, and they were involved. The Jews were defeated, the Temple destroyed, by the Romans. The clues are in Mark's Gospel, written at the time, from Rome. These militants were failures and scholars tell that after Jesus's death many attributed messiahship to him and his non-militant movement. Not that many, but it is when many Messianic Jews joined the Jesus movement in expectation of the end. This is not the same as Paul and the Hellenists, and the Gentile bias of the gospels: Mark from Rome, Matthew the real, now Jewish Church, Luke the Gentile and John the Greek philosophy of subordinate divinity. I'm not here talking about the Gentile departing from the Jews either, but a difference among the Jews to an understanding of Messiahship. So, I wonder: did Judas the militant carry on - not with the others - as a militant; or is he just, a man of the Sicarii, the militant failure, of these misled fools, the fighting Jews who failed? I suggest this possibility, that here we see the evolution of early Christianity.
Whatever. What did Judas do? Well it remains the case that Judas in the story, the Betrayer and instrument of Satan, obeys Psalm 41:9 and Zechariah 11:12: that a friend would betray and one would be paid. Curiously then, in this embarrassing story for the Church, Judas, like Jesus, was faithful to the scriptures. So Judas was paid and Christ paid: that all might receive the most generous free gift of a new reality.


Adrian Worsfold

Pluralist - Liberal and Thoughtful