January 21, 2006

Rejecting Judas (david)

Its interesting this theme of feeling sorry for the betrayer. Judas is hard done by. Too much gloating in the burst intestines. Judas -- patron saint of the outsider.

I tend to read this passage as a political move. If the social movement Jesus created included a broad range of folks from collaborators and tax collectors, to prostitutes and ex-prostitutes, to zealots and sicarii then we have to wonder why such delight is taken in seeing Judas destroyed -- especially if they believed as modern Christians do -- that Christ's death somehow mediated salvation to us all.

I think what happened is that by the time Luke wrote this two things were happening. One was that folks were terrified of another Roman crack down and wanted to distance themselves from the zealots. Secondly, Christians were starting to see themselves not as a reforming sect with Judaism but a a new faith laying claim to the prophetic promises of Judaism. In a word, Luke and others like him saw folks settling down into something like churches, still awaiting the triumphant return of Christ Jesus but maybe getting used to that return being quite a ways away, needing to look oh so normal and inoffensive to Rome while at the same time telling their Jewish neighbours that Christians and not the Jews were the True Israel.

Against this backdrop Luke gives Judas (means "Jew") Iscariot (the knife wielding terrorist) a disgusting finish -- affirms he has no place in the kingdom of God -- and appoints a new person -- Matthias -- a witness to Jesus resurrection -- to complete the number of the Twelve (tribes of Israel).

How does this relate to our church-life and our Quaker meetings today? For me the first is recognize that the sins of anti-semetism and supersessionism have been a part of our faith tradition from the earliest parts -- embedded in our very Bibles. We need to name this and condemn it.

The other issue raised is that Jesus original preaching did not create a church or sect but a social and religious movement. Open to a broad range of people but attractive especially to marginalized and outcasts. Yet what we have become is staid sectarian churches with memberships more homogeneous than milk. What does Jesus create today? Where do we fit into it?


At 6:18 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi David. Do you mean that Luke used the description of Judas' death as a metaphor for leaving the Jewish faith behind?

About the make-up of the present day churches ... I don't know much about the demographics of the Quaker churches, but I think that catholic churches tend to attract people from all economic/social levels, although the church's antipahty to gays/lesbians and disenfranchisement of women can't be discounted.

At 6:55 p.m., Blogger Twyla said...

I really, really like your last paragraph.

At 7:12 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

This is a great post, David; you give us lots to think about. We just got home tonight, and work is piled up, but I'll be spending more time with this, and no doubt commenting again.

Re Pentecost. All right! I'm looking for many posts on that, and have a lot to say about it myself.

Cheers to all.


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