Wednesday of Holy Week. One of the friends of Jesus is Judas Iscariot. I have sympathy for him.

I grew up with the notion that Judas deserved what he got. He betrayed his friend with a kiss – death by intimacy. If he then went off and hanged himself, then it was only a measure of the depth of his lostness.

But, I never found this enough. Judas haunts the imagination as guilt lingers in the aftermath of pleasure. It can’t be as simple as this: Jesus good, Judas bad. Was he really the one bad apple that any group, any organisation, has?

Why did. Judas betray his friend? He had been the group’s treasurer, so knew what had kept Jesus and his friends going for those couple of years. He also had a deep political, moral concern for what we would now call social injustice – the fate of the poor under the jackboot of the military occupiers and the local collaborators. His heart beat for justice and and end to oppression.

So, why betray Jesus to the ‘powers’ he despised?

Judas is known simply as the man who betrayed his friend with a kiss. I wonder if he did so because he himself felt betrayed by that friend. After all, he had heard Jesus talking about a new kingdom, he had witnessed sick people being made whole, lost people being found, despised people having their dignity and identity restored. He had caught the vision of a different world in which the ‘powers’ would serve the interests of the people under God and not dominate or exploit them for the sake of their own security or profit.

And, yet, here, today, as the people celebrate at Passover the foundational story of liberation, the Exodus, Jesus appears to be missing the point – or, at least, the moment. I wonder if, driven by his impatient sense that now has to be the time for Jesus to declare himself, show his hand, turn over the powers and bring in his messianic rule, Judas now tries to force his hand. The failure of Jesus to save himself, to overturn the times, leads Judas to the despair of a disillusionment rooted in a sense of betrayal.

This Judas whose feet Jesus knelt before and washed at their final meal together.

There is much to identify with in Judas. Amos Oz wrote a wonderful book simply called Judas and followed it up with a lecture (which I think is only available in German, but I might be wrong) called Jesus and Judas in which he explores these themes. I find myself having been committed to a way of seeing or acting, only later to see it in its wider context and contingency and feel embarrassed.

But, I look at Judas and hold a mirror up to my own convictions and commitments. Do I see Jesus as there to serve me and my ends? Is Jesus there to make my life fulfilled? Or to deliver my political views? Is he there to vindicate me and endorse convictions that arise elsewhere but get coloured with his words? Do I get impatient when the world doesn’t get reshaped in my direction at what I think is the right time?

Do I shape Jesus in my image, or, in following him in the company of others he has also called, do I allow myself, my convictions and commitments, my thinking and seeing, to be re-shaped in his image? That is the question.