Today is Spy Wednesday. It might be the coolest named day of Holy Week, but without its own distinct service, it’s probably the least known in the West (the East regularly fasts on Wednesdays to mark this). Spy Wednesday is the day that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. This the moment of betrayal.
But it has been difficult for me to completely vilify Judas. I obviously think what he did was wrong, but I see my own flaws. That could have been me. He was still expecting the Messiah to be something else and was disappointed. He was struggling with greed. Even the Church won’t state that he’s in hell, so who am I to judge?
Maybe it’s because so many movies these days love to flip the script: the dark hero, the relatable villain. Good and evil are shades of gray. It’s all about who’s telling the story, right? It’s all relative. Except it’s not. Some things are black and white. Judas was wrong. He turned God over for greed.
Jesus says of him: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” (Matthew 26:24)
Understanding him only shows my own sin. Wanting him to be a relatable villain only shows my own desire to obfuscate sin, to make good and evil just two shades of the same thing. Yet despite uncertainty and discernment and complex theology, ultimately, it is simple. There is that which works towards God’s will and that which works against it.
The betrayal, turning over Jesus to death, is the pinnacle of working against God’s will. Of course, God will use that action for his will to be done, but Judas’ heart was hardened. This was a bad, evil thing. We should remember it with disgust and anger and sorrow. And may we never be the one to ask, “Surely, it is not I?”