‘Only By Grace’
a series of reflections for Easter in the form of monologues by Judas Iscariot
This series of reflections take a different stance on grace than you may have experienced previously – this is grace through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Written as a dramatic presentation, these posts during holy week 2017 are adapted from the original script. This introduction and the first monologue posted on Palm Sunday will be followed by daily monologues until Easter Sunday.
When I began writing this, my initial thoughts were of an emotional and edgy piece of theatre that saw Judas with drink and pills in hand having a dialogue within himself about his betrayal. To some extent, the dialogue remains as an underlying theme within the monologues but as I read the gospel accounts and other material around the character of Judas, it quickly became apparent that my idea of Judas was one based on bits and pieces from different accounts and indoctrinated teaching.
These monologues have been written having laid down the preconceptions I had. The main thing to keep in your minds and the reason I’ve called this work ‘Only by Grace’ is that as I reflected on my research, what kept coming back to my mind is ‘how far do I believe God’s grace goes?’
This question is particularly important to the story of Judas considering the character we’ve made him to be within the western church. Before the monologue posts begin, I’d like to share some points that frame what I’ve written…
Firstly, the words betrayal and betrayer are poor translations – ‘handing over’ is a better translation and has a different connotation, one that doesn’t place such an emphasis of inherent evilness on the character of Judas.
There are two different accounts of the manner of Judas death and I don’t feel that this is actually too important – it was important however, particularly in Acts, for the other disciples to point out Judas was no longer alive as they sought to replace him within the 12.
Whether Judas asked for or was offered the silver pieces seems irrelevant to me as the sum would not have made Judas rich and although we know he was a thief from other scripture, this fact brings into question where our cultural emphasis on his greed originates.
Taking one’s own life being a sinful act has become a theological position centuries after this event took place and I believe this line of thinking has greatly reduced the opportunity to see God’s grace within the story of Judas and within the countless sad stories of suicide that we encounter in our world.
I have not focused on whether Judas was possessed by satan or not as it mentions in John’s Gospel but for clarification, these monologues are written as though Judas is reflecting on his experience and actions after handing Jesus over and without satan present.
God’s grace is not something we can quantify or qualify, it’s not something we can limit with arbitrary parameters and there was no standard for ‘Christian’ repentance at the time so I don’t believe we can hold Judas to it.
We can’t make assumptions as to whether Judas realised that Jesus was talking about a spiritual kingdom or not… we are not told what his motivation for handing Jesus over was but artistic licence has been taken using his background as a zealot and the traditions of his heritage.
I’d like to conclude this introduction with a quote
Truth dwells in gulphs, whose deeps hide shades so rich that night sits muffled there in clouds of pitch, more dark than nature made her and requires heavens great fire of fires – to wrestle with these heavenly-strong mysteries.