This Easter I’ve been acting in the St Tim’s Passion Play. For those of you not familiar with the concept, it’s a reenactment of the biblical account of Jesus living, dying and resurrecting.
I was cast as Judas. This, of course, was treated with a great deal of humour from, well, everyone who knows me. There were cries of “type-casting!”, and I rather enjoyed pointing out that last time I was in a passion play, my role was “Second Demon”, so this was a promotion, of sorts.
And so the preparation began: there were lines to be learnt and countless rehearsals to attend. My wife bought a costume for me (by ransaking the bottom shelves of the least appealing charity shop in our high street). Jokes were made during practices – my favourite being Jesus getting everyone to flamboyantly clap, hands above head, during the buildup to the crucifixion.
Slowly, piece by piece, a sincere production was put together. Yet in the midst of it all, I rather failed to consider if there might be any deeper meaning to my role.
Soon enough, Good Friday was on us, our first performance begun, and, to a packed church, the birth and life of Jesus unfolding. I turned up, changed into my authentic 2,000 year old clothes, then waited behind the stage for my part. My only concern was the recollection of my lines, no deeper thought running through my head.
Then, my first scene came “Disciples chatting about Jesus”. Improvisation of some bible verses aside, this went well, and I moved onto “The Last Supper”, which played out without a hitch.
My final scene was an easy one – no speaking part; simply walk on with some soldiers, hug, kiss (and ultimately, betray) Jesus, then off again on stage left.
Our cue came, and on we marched. I hesitantly walked up to Jesus; crying, loving Jesus, who embraced me wholeheartedly. Then I kissed his cheek, his tears on my lips, and it hit me:
I am Judas.
Suddenly everything moved so fast. I stumbled back, and the soldiers swooped in. I walked off stage hesitantly, and stood behind the curtain, watching on as my Lord was thrown around, beaten, whipped and murdered. I weeped for a few moments, because it became very clear:
I am Judas.
Sure, my name is Chris, and I’ve never been near Nazareth, but the point remains: for me alone, Jesus would gladly have suffered the cross.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)
So, remember: don’t resent Judas, he is a reflection of all of us. We are Judas. Over the next two days, try to reflect on that, because it really is at the heart of Good Friday. And it will make Easter all the sweeter!