When I'm bored at work, my mind wanders. I ponder things that I forget by the time I get home
The first thing that strikes me when reading passages of the passion in the Bible is that, man oh man, here in our modern day world with our modern day religious teachings, Judas really gets the shaft. When I was growing up that man received NO sort of slack. And why not? After all, he sort of facilitated our salvation, did he not (I mean, if Christianity is your bag and all)? And yet he's considered quite a villain in your basic Sunday school curriculum.
Certainly it was part of God's plan that his son would die for our sins, and yet, he also gave all the players in the plan free will to play through and interpret events as they arose. It's sort of like "I have the script, but let's see what you do with the plot".
In fact, Jesus was given a choice to sacrifice himself or not. And through further and deeper Bible study and historical research it seems that near the end of his life, Christ became particularly antagonistic to rile people up emotionally and politically in preparation for his "big day", sort of the Howard Dean of Jerusalem. To the Jewish leaders of the time, he was a blasphemer, particulary since they had all gathered in Jerusalem for Passover, the holiest of holy days, a day not to be futzed with. After all, in those times there wasn't a temple in every city, so the High Holy Days called for a sort of mini-pilgrimage to the closest "Temple Town".
The more I think about it, it seems that Judas betrayed him not even thinking or considering for a moment that the Roman authorities would kill him. He probably thought Jesus was just going to jail and getting beaten for being a loudmouth.
When I was little and first learning about the passion, it was easiest to learn that the 'bad guys' in the story were Judas and Pontius Pilate. Of course a seven year old needs this sort of simplicity. But in truth it isn't so black and white. Pilate was a man that sought justice, and in fact tried several times to find a way to release Jesus from this torture, since he did NOTHING against Roman law. Judas is not considered "the grand asshole of the bible" either. In fact, in pictures of the last supper that I've seen, he's still given a halo. I have to believe that Judas' actions were his own. If we didn't have free will, I believe that movies like "The Burbs" wouldn't get made. The bottom line is that somehow, Jesus was going to be sacrificed, whether Judas betrayed him or not. Jesus DID predict that one would deny him three times, but could this be Jesus planting the idea in their heads?
In the end, what I think I draw from Judas is just another lesson Jesus wanted us to learn. A sort of living parable. Be careful in using the lives of others to serve your own purposes (gaining thirty pieces of silver) because it may end up destroying someone else.
I need a nap