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.

Before coming to Iraq I was asked to write a piece for the Radio Times. Picking up on the Kate Bottley programme on Good Friday, I thought I would start from there. However, the article was essentially about avoiding the pigeon-holing of religious broadcasting. Here is the text, but buy the Radio Times anyway – the biggest-selling magazine in the UK.

So, it's Easter again. And there's a programme about Judas on the telly.

When Bob Dylan decided to go electric some of his fans thought he had sold out. The infamous sound of a bloke in the audience shouting “Judas” said it all – one name pregnant with a hundred accusations.

I feel a bit sorry for Judas. He is 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. I wonder what his mother thought.

Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. 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. Whatever conclusion you draw, he's has had a lousy press. Just call someone by his name…

It's actually all about betrayal. And faith. And disappointment. And hope and meaning and living and dying. All the stuff of life as we all know it, in every age and every culture.

It shouldn't be surprising, then, that the case for or against Judas should be re-opened on Good Friday. After all, what better opportunity can there be for taking a fresh look at a religious story than hanging it on an Easter peg?

That's fine in itself. But, it begs the question why such programming shouldn't be scheduled at other times of the year. Why lock 'faith' stuff into the predictable slots when 'people who like that sort of thing' can be indulged for an hour or so? If sport and politics, economics and science can be exposed to the searching eye of the camera and the probing ear of the microphone throughout the year, shouldn't 'religion' get the same treatment – and not get pigeon-holed at the predictable times of the calendar?

Well, I celebrate those broadcasters that spot the creative opportunities to tell the stories and ask the hard questions. Faith provides a lens through which the stuff of human living and dying, leaving and losing, laughing and weeping, searching and finding can be explored. Faith isn't a box whose lid can be lifted from time to time in order to keep one section of the audience happy. Faith is about the raw stuff of life – and the questions about what it all means. Not just at Christmas and Easter, but all year round.

And this is why the Sandford St Martin Trust joins with the Radio Times to celebrate and reward excellent religious broadcasting. That's not broadcasting about religion for religious people; rather, it is telling those – often surprising – stories about people whose lives and interests and failings and celebrations shine a light on those questions that face us all as human beings. They offer a sort of vocabulary for thinking and asking and wondering.

No shoving stuff down people's throat. But, capturing the imagination and offering images and narratives that keep scratching away at our mind and memory, possibly opening us up to new, and sometimes surprising, ways of thinking and seeing.

Whether it's Gogglebox or Grantchester, Call the Midwife or Rev, a documentary or drama, there are some great programmes to celebrate.

Cast your vote.