You’re not supposed to want to be Judas. He’s the bad guy, the one in western movies who spits a lot and wears his gun all cock-eyed. Not supposed to want to be Judas. He’s a bad apple. Better if that one had not been born, Mark’s gospel says.
But I like that Judas is a part of the passion story. Not because of who he is, or even what he does. To say the least, Judas makes at least a few poor life choices in the passion narrative. What I like about Judas being a part of the story is not even what it has to say about Judas, but what it says about Jesus. Judas is a part of the passion story because Jesus wants for him to be a part of the story. He is at dinner, aka the last supper, aka the communion we remember every time we take communion, because God wanted him there. God wanted Judas there.
Ask yourself. Why was Judas at the last supper?
Bad guys don’t need a dinner invitation to be bad guys. Jesus could have left Judas at home, or told him to head out for the night, or told him they were meeting at the purple pony and ditched on him. But he didn’t. Jesus invites Judas to communion. The ultimate sinner, and the ultimately sin-less, sitting at table together, eating from the same bowl, having a meal together. In John’s gospel, Jesus not only eats with Judas but Jesus washes Judas feet. God serves the broken, and the ultimately sinful and even seeks to make them clean. Jesus, even as Judas prepares to betray him, still loves Judas.
Maybe there is some good news in that. I know I don’t show up to this Last Supper meal sinless. In fact, if I had to pick who I am most like, Jesus or Judas, sinless or sin filled, I’d be a Judas, and maybe I don’t want to be Judas, after all you’re not supposed to want to be Judas, but whether you want to be Judas or not, or whether you want to betray Jesus or let him down or not, I know that, you and me – we are well short of perfect.
And yet, and yet there is forgiveness at Christ table. There is forgiveness in Jesus washing our feet. There is redemption and the hope of grace for us, not because we are perfect and look like Jesus, but because we mess up and are a lot like Judas, and yet Jesus still invites us to his grace filled table!