So yeah, this is probably going to piss a lot of people off.
So why share it? Want it off my chest. That's why.
Easter. You already know it's my favorite holiday, right? I love it because of the rebirth, the light, the joy, the candy and the obligatory re-tooled fertility rites. I love it because it's absolutely the best parts of Christianity all rolled together, dipped in chocolate, and served late on a Saturday morning with scrambled eggs and maple syrup.
The hard part about it, as is the hard part for me about any of our nationally recognized Christian holidays, is the equally obligatory talk about sin and evil versus light; good guys versus bad guys.
And unfailingly I allow myself to get baited by these conversations. And unfailingly I end up putting a giant bat into someone's springtime-bicycle spokes and just sending everything all to hell.
See, when talk goes to "ultimate good guys and ultimate bad guys" at this time of year, the topic of Judas pretty much always comes up. He's the betrayer, right? He's the one who, after all, sold Jesus out. We should hate him forever and put him in a burlap sack with the likes of Adolf Hitler and Vidkun Quisling and the guy who designed zippers to fail halfway through your career-changing presentation.
But really? (Here's where the me-pissing-people-off thing comes in)
Judas? Reviled for the rest of history for, after all, fulfilling god's will?
I mean, I've said it before but... where would we be if Judas hadn't "sold out" his friend? His DEAR friend by the way, whom he had been with through thick and thin for over 3 years. Let's say Jesus never died on the cross - what then? Plague? Mauled by a lion? Mugged for his shoes behind the Al-quickie-mart? What if Jesus died of botulism? Would we have rotting cans of tuna in statuesque-glory pinned to our collars, dangling from our neckalces and nailed to the backs of thousands of mega-stadium-worship centers?
Let's say, and I know I've made you read this all at least once before, so forgive my repitition...
Let's say that Judas and Jesus were really good friends. Like, "bro-mance" friends. Like they really, truly, and not in any kind of gay-sex-way, honestly loved each other. Not that hard to imagine, right? We're talking about Jesus after all. Who wouldn't love that guy? He was smart, he was caring, he was charming, he was (strictly speaking) as beautiful a person as any of us could hope to meet. And he chose his company carefully. And he trusted each of his disciples. And he loved all of them. Not in the way we're compelled to think of now (thanks again, hollywood, for screwing up another great part of being human)... with the rough sex and the dramatic arguments, and the Jersey shore cat-fights...
Jesus loved his disciples the way we're supposed to love our friends. Deeply, truly, openly, honestly. Regardless of gender. And they loved him back. They believed in him, in his message, and in his path. And one of them above all others (in my book) loved him most and trusted him most and was trusted by him most.
Think of all the people you have ever known or loved. Think of the ones you love most. Think of telling them a horrible secret. Think of telling them that for your message of goodness to go forth, for the promise of the allmighty to be fulfilled, something awful had to happen to you. Really awful, like torture, humiliation, and a grizzly, slow death. And think of telling your most beloved person that secret and then telling them that He or She was the only person in the whole universe, ever, who could be trusted enough to make it come to pass. "You will betray me" you'll say. "and I'm going to die horribly because of it. and if you don't do it, nobody will."
Think about delivering that message.
Think about receiving that message.
Have you ever loved anyone that much? Knowing that the guilt of it would make you probably kill yourself shortly thereafter? Knowing that you'd be hated for the rest of human history and your very name would soon be counted among the worst insults known to humanity?
Judas loved Jesus that much.
Jesus loved Judas that much.
He did what he had to do because it was the will of the allmighty. It wasn't personal weakness and the lure of those juicy pieces of silver that made him do it. It was personal fortitude and sacrifice on a level rarely seen since that allowed him to do it.
It is my opinion, gentle reader, that Judas is the one person in the universe, ever, that Jesus loved and trusted beyond all others. And if that beautiful person can love him, so can I.
Christianity would be nothing were it not for that singular sacrifice. That is where the weight of that cross comes from. It's not just Jesus' death on display there. It's that Jesus' slow, tortured demise was brought about by his best friend... a man he knew would suffer emotional trauma for the brief remainder of his life. Surely Jesus' mind turned to his beloved Judas once or twice during those three days on the hill. Surely ours can too, during this Easter season, which celebrates renewal and forgiveness and rebirth and light.
Easter is about love, gentle reader, enduring and perfect love.
That is one hell of a wonderful thing to celebrate. Don't you think?