Do You Know Judas?

Judas: the name is associated with words like traitor, back-stabber, turn-coat, false-friend, and double-crosser. We want to view Judas, the person who set-up Jesus so that the religious authorities could arrest him in secret, as not just wrong but as evil or perhaps demonically possessed. In doing so, we miss something very significant: Judas was chosen by Jesus as a discipline and learned the teachings of Jesus in a very personal setting.

Yes, Judas was called by Jesus as one of his intimate followers. Further, Judas wasn’t just one of the twelve. Judas had a vital role in the group. He was the treasurer. How did someone who was an important member of this group of disciples end up as such a tragic figure?

While the New Testament gospel stories paint one picture of Judas, other sources from early Christianity present various ways of understanding the man. Could it be that we want to view Judas as a traitor so that we can see ourselves as good and faithful? Is Judas our scape-goat for our own tendencies to betray others? Could it be that if we were to think about Judas as someone who was chosen to follow the teachings of Jesus, he becomes more like us?

During this Holy Week, I want to offer you an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be faithful and what it means to give up on faithful living by listening to a recent sermon by my friend and colleague, the Rev. Glenna Shepherd. Glenna considers multiple ways to understand Judas and helps us to understand that just like us his actions and motivations were quite complex. Glenna, the senior minister at Decatur United Church of Christ – my home church – provides a thought-provoking consideration of a Biblical figure we think we understand. Perhaps by learning more about Judas and his path, we’ll learn more about our own.

If you enjoy Glenna’s presentation, be sure to listen to other YouTube recordings or join Decatur UCC for the live streaming of its service each Sunday at 11:00 AM Eastern.

© 2014, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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