The day had arrived. Christ who had spent the whole night in prayer summoned a full muster of his disciples, they were more than hundred in number. As he made his way into their midst they shrank back instinctively for his appearance was full of majesty and grandeur.
“I have called you all to finally select from amongst you, twelve men who will be my apostles” Christ began, “they are to stay close to me, work and pray with me and will eventually carry on after me”.
A loud murmur rose from the crowd, “who would be chosen?” each asked, their faces animated with excitement.
“Simon Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew” Jesus called out, his baritone voice reverberating across the entire room. His eyes were closed as beads of perspiration cascaded across his blessed face.
Without missing a beat he continued
“Thomas, James, Simeon, Jude”, in breathless silence the rest of the disciples stood as name after name sounded in the chilly morning air, following with their eyes each one as he is summoned. Judas the man of Kerioth also stood among them expectant, wondering if his name would be called………
And surely enough after eleven names had been mentioned and all were hanging on the master’s lips wondering who the twelfth, the last would be, Jesus called out
“Finally, Judas from the tribe of Judah, from Kerioth” scores of envious eyes followed him as he left them to go to the master’s side. Kneeling before him he thanked him for the distinction and promised he would prove worthy of the choice. After a brief session of prayer they all departed to carry out their specific tasks for the day.
*** [Three years later] ***
The Jews had tried to stone Jesus to death after the feast of the dedication of the temple. Despite this, Jesus was still hell-bent on visiting Lazarus who was sick in Judea.
“Let’s go into Judea again” he said. The apostles tries to dissuade him but all was in vain. Then Thomas spoke up “let us go, that we may die with him” he said encouraging the others. (Jn 11:16)
The other apostles being of the same mind as Thomas joined him. They, too, were ready to die with the master. All of them except one! He stood irresolute and was the last to move. It was Judas the man of Kerioth.
For three years now the struggle between him and the master have raged on. At the moment he loathed the master for he had not only lost his faith but had no love either in his heart. This was his secret, a secret which till the final hour he could hide from the others. This was the burden of his thoughts as he strode behind the others up the greyish-white slopes heading towards Jerusalem. He remembered the first moment he had betrayed his master’s trust by stealing from the common purse which had been entrusted to him, how he had felt- as if a strange light had gone out of him. His conscience greatly pricked him so much that he longed to throw himself on his knees before Jesus and confess his guilt, but he was too proud for that, so the disaffection remained.
Time and time again the Master spoke of the dangers of riches and this he did with the most impressive illustrations and parables “For it will be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” he recalled ever so regrettably and sorrowfully, but still, he couldn’t break his habit of stealing nor summon the courage to confess his sins and so ever so deeply he regressed into the abyss of despair.
Hardened in his sinfulness Judas began to deteriorate terribly; his features took on an expression of hardness, his eyes sunken with grief- an image of what went on in his soul. He also began avoiding the others deliberately sitting apart from them during meals and prayers. He was in a ceaseless struggle with his better self, but as usual, the struggle ended in obstinacy and callousness of heart. Another power had taken possession of him.
In the midst of this developing crisis of spirit, a word Jesus had spoken at Carpharnaum pierced his heart so greatly: “Have I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil!” His conscience assured him that it was he himself who was being referred to and this struck him like the lash of a whip, he had being discovered after all.
The tension between him and Jesus increased as a result of this sinful attitude and their relationship grew so bitter that his heart began to resemble the hard soil on which the grain of corn could not take root.
What exactly was he looking for by remaining thus at the master’s side? He asked himself. He had lost all love of him; his faith has waned irreparably, his hope of personal profit waned in proportion as it became clear to him that he had forfeited the good will of the master. Thus it remained only to look out for a suitable opportunity to rid himself of him. Sunk in these thoughts Judas walked after the others up to Jerusalem.
Judas was a man in torment, he was weeping profusely at the side of the entrance to the high priest’s palace, watching horrifically as the soldiers bruised and battered Jesus. After a while he couldn’t watch again. “I have betrayed my master’s love, I have denied his trust” he wept, the tears stung at his eyes. He had led the soldiers to where Jesus was and had betrayed him with a kiss- at that moment he had felt his hardened heart melt within him. Now repentant, he was eager to go back to the loving arms of the one who had shown him much love but alas! It was too late.
After leaving the palace he had swiftly gone to return the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.
“Take back your money, I need it not again!” he had requested.
“What is done is done, there is no going back” Caiaphas replied him on behalf of the others.
Leaving the money there at the temple Judas headed towards the olive groove near the temple. As he ran, the shame and guilt of what he just did all came rushing in at terrible speed. He could bear it no longer, he had to end it all.
Tightening the noose firmly around his neck, Judas wept again for a considerable amount of time. At that instant he remembered the many times his master had sought to draw him back; how the parable of the prodigal son had been carefully tailored just for him- if only he had humbled himself and confessed his sins, If only………….. The tears were now rolling down uncontrollably as he wept out loudly, the pain in his heart terribly immense.
Fixing his gaze heavenwards he exclaimed
“Lypamai ravvinos!” he then pushed the wooden stool from beneath his feet.
Author: Peter Oz