Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples, 1898 (oil and grisaille on paper) by Edelfelt, Albert Gustaf Aristides (1854-1905)© Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden Finnish, out of copyright
Why did Judas do what he did?
We can’t know, of course.
Can we seek to imagine what motivated something so terrible?
Might it help to do so?
It is a truly terrible thing to betray a friend, but maybe Judas was expecting a very different outcome. Maybe.
Maybe he thought there was a good to be served by doing what he did. He must have felt he had a reason. Maybe he was trying to force Jesus’ hand, make him reveal and initiate the Kingdom in a dramatic burst. Maybe, an idealist, he was disillusioned with small progress, maybe the way things were turning out was not what he expected or felt he signed up for.
Having wondered this, having thought, too, how well Jesus knew Judas, and that he knew what Judas was intending to do, I imagined that instead. I wrote a response.
Here it is.
Jesus washes Judas’ feet.
That moment, when you knelt before him,
took off his sandals, readied the water,
did you look up? Search his eyes?
Find in them some love, some trace
of all that had passed between you?
As you washed his feet, holding them in your hand,
watching the cool water soak away the dirt,
feeling bones through hard skin,
you knew he would leave the lit room,
and slip out into the dark night.
And yet, with these small daily things –
with washing, with breaking and sharing bread,
you reached out your hand, touched, fed.
Look, the kingdom is like this:
as small as a mustard seed, as yeast,
a box of treasure hidden away beneath the dirt.
See how such things become charged,
mighty, when so full of love. This is the way.
In that moment, when silence ebbed between you,
and you wrapped a towel around your waist;
when you knew, and he knew, what would be,
you knelt before him, even so, and took off
his sandals, and gently washed his feet.
This is a picture that was in display at the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, Norwich Cathedral. It shows the Jesus being betrayed, and healing, at the same moment.
I write about it in the last chapter of Jesus said, I am – finding life in the everyday
You might like to read the gospel story in John 13