The Kiss Of Death

In an interview in "The Radio Times" the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, argues that Judas Iscariot may have been given a bad press.

He admits that he feels "a bit sorry for Judas," and suggests that "He's not just another one of those characters in the well-known story of the crucifixion of Jesus; rather, he has gone down in history as the ultimate traitor, the cheap and nasty greed-merchant who sells his friend and his soul for a few quid. Whether he is a traitor or a scapegoat, he's had a lousy press."

He adds, "Judas had invested himself in the revolutionary leadership of Jesus of Nazareth, only to find himself let down. Trying to force the hand of the Messiah didn't work and, instead of provoking the ultimate uprising against Roman rule, the glorious leader simply let himself get nailed without resistance. No wonder Judas got upset. I guess it's up to the observer to decide what was really going on with Judas – whether he is a traitor or a scapegoat."

I do not believe in predestination or that in any way God made him shop Jesus to the authorities for the sake of a divine plot, so, in my opinion, Judas was the traitor he is generally made out to have been. He may have had an excuse for what he did in his own mind but then so does every murderer. His actions were despicable and would have been just as bad if the person he got crucified was not the Son of God. In my book, betrayal is the worst of sins. To do the dirty on someone who trusts you is the lowest of crimes.

If the story of his suicide is true then it would appear that Judas may well have been repentant for what he did and if he was then he will be forgiven by God. But that's no reason for us to explain away his sin for, in doing so, we are in danger of getting rid of an archetype that should serve us well. Betraying God, betraying a friend, betraying someone whose care you are responsible for, betraying a child or vulnerable adult, betraying your workforce, betraying the people who voted for you, betraying anyone is a truly wicked thing but something most, if not all, of us are well capable of doing. Therefore, we need stories to dissuade us from such treachery and, personally, I believe that it is the duty of the shepherds of the flock to be keepers and tellers of the story not advocates of a relativism that offers cheap grace to those who choose expediency and self-interest over doing the right thing.

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