Just before Easter, Democratic political pundit and Clinton activist James Carville called New Mexico governor Bill Richardson a "Judas" for unexpectedly endorsing Barack Obama instead of long-time political ally Hillary Clinton. Capitalizing on this infamous name during Passion Week, "Ragin Cajun" Carville colorfully implied Richardson's political realignment was a breach of trust tantamount to the disciple's betrayal of selling out Jesus for 30 silver coins.
After hearing Carville's comment, I pondered Judas's shameful act, still the ultimate in treachery 2,000 years later. Scripture doesn't reveal much about Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. Judas was the treasurer for Jesus' ragtag band of followers, traveling and ministering with him, walking along the dusty roads that connected seaside to village, marketplace to mountaintop, desert to olive grove, local synagogue to impressive temple. As 1 of the appointed 12, Judas saw Jesus teach with authority, heal the diseased, exorcise demons, raise the dead, forgive the adulterous, celebrate with sinners, walk on water, calm a terrifying storm, even feed a starving multitude.
Judas probably knew Jesus much more intimately than the disciple appears to in the Gospels' selective narratives. Daily he witnessed Jesus' dedication to prayer, compassion for human suffering, disdain for religious legalism, devotion to his Father's will, love for his people.
But at the Last Supper, "the Devil had already enticed Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to carry out his plan to betray Jesus" (John 13:2). What prompted Judas's plan? Was he upset that James and John, the "Sons of Thunder," jockeyed for favored status in the coming kingdom? Was he envious that Jesus shared such a deep friendship with the "disciple Jesus loved"? Was Judas disgruntled that Jesus passed him over by announcing Simon Peter, that blustery blowhard, to be "the rock" and foundation for the movement?1