Judas – one of the twelve?

Maundy Thursday – 2014
Marian Free

In the name of God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

Recently, the Cathedral Chapter had the opportunity to think about a number of statues to be placed in niches in the Cathedral. Most of the choices were uncontroversial – the 12 disciples, John the Baptist, Mary and Martha. No one could argue about their right to be there. The character who caused the most discussion was Judas. Should Judas, the person who handed Jesus over, be included? What would be the reaction of the Building and Furnishing Advisory Committee to the idea? If they gave permission for the work to go ahead, what would be the reaction of the Cathedral congregation, of the public? After much discussion it was agreed to include Judas and permission was given.

It is some time since the debate, but it seems to me that there are a number of arguments for including the twelfth disciple.

Perhaps the most important reason for including Judas is the fact that he was one of the twelve, he was a disciple and he was chosen by Jesus. These are irrefutable parts of Jesus’ story. To omit Judas is to deny part of the story – whether it was that Jesus made a mistake in choosing a man who would betray him, or that Jesus deliberately chose someone whom he knew would not make it to the end of the road. No matter, that Jesus chose Judas is part of the story.

It is because Judas is an essential part of the story, that he should not be left out. In fact, without Judas, there is no story. Had Judas not got cold feet, or been driven by greed the story would have been quite different. There would have been no covert arrest, no trial, no crucifixion, no resurrection. The most important part of the story would simply not have taken place. There would have been no opportunity for the centurion – a complete outsider – to declare that Jesus truly was the Son of God, no resurrection to change a group of frightened men into a driving force that changed the course of history. Without Judas, it is possible that Jesus would have lived to a ripe old age and would possibly have been forgotten by all but those whose lives he touched. Without Judas it is possible that there would be no faith.

Last but not least it is essential that Judas not be excluded because Judas is a reminder to us of our own humanity, our own propensity to let Jesus down. Whether Judas acted out of timidity or anxiety, out of greed or a desire for power, he simply represents the weakness that is in all our natures. Even then, Judas was not alone. Not one of the disciples really understood Jesus’ mission, all of them at cone time or another let him down. In Jesus’ moment of greatest need, all of his disciples abandoned him and left him to face his fate alone. Judas is not worse than us, Judas is one of us. If we forget Judas, we risk forgetting a part of ourselves.

Jesus chose twelve. If we forget one, we forget so much more.


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