Nikolai Ge’s 1891 painting Conscience, Judas
Not sure where I found this painting or the words:
Nikolai Ge’s 1891 painting Conscience, Judas shows us a more layered Judas, here grasping his cloak tight around him, the darkness closing him, the light of Jesus being led away shrinking in the distance, the weight of his betrayal sinking in. Treachery has left its mark on all involved. The betrayed as well as the betrayer. Jesus as well as Judas. Here, alone in the dark, Judas finds himself — as I so often find myself — betraying that which he was meant to love. We, as Christians go with Jesus to the cross. Yet, we as Christians, too, stay with Judas in the garden as the dark closes in, mourning our betrayals.
For as long as I could remember, before my conversion began, I used to think of Judas as just a misunderstood soul, trapped for some reason, in the “Bad Guy” role for what he had to do to our Lord. Until I came to hear and ponder this scripture:
“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,”Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.” John 12:4-6
With the imagery of Judas, being a thief while he was with our Lord and the Apostles, stealing from them, I can’t help but ponder now, the Good Thief and the Bad Thief, crucified alongside our Lord. The Good Thief being the Apostles who did repent and turn back to our Lord, and Judas, having the time and being given everything he could to turn back to our Lord, being the bad thief and not changing, not taking advantage of the grace he was given to repent in the presence of our Lord.
For someone to hang himself for what he had done, I do know he was a troubled soul with a conscience that would not allow him to rest, who was unable to face life anymore, who was unable to go to the Apostles to seek forgiveness from his brothers because of one simple thing. Pride. The rest of the Apostles were just as guilty of other sins, but did not take their own lives. They repented. They held their ground and asked for forgiveness.
I don’t like to think about Judas as I am sure not many do like to think about him. We all hate to come to the realization that we all have a little Judas in us at some time, that truly needs to be purged and replaced with grace and mercy.
Lord Jesus, you were betrayed by the kiss of a friend:
be with those who are betrayed and slandered and falsely accused.
You knew the experience of having your love
thrown back in your face for mere silver
be with families which are torn apart by mistrust or temptation.
To you, Jesus, who offered your face to your betrayer,
be honor and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.