Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot

People We Meet on the Way to the Cross

Judas, the son of Simon IscariotYes, it is true: I am a thief. I help myself to the money bag. But are we so different?

While the poor starve, you hoard your wealth. When those in need hold out their hands for scraps, you make a fist. While the poor live in alleyways and on streets reeking of garbage, you dine in luxury and sleep on sheets made of the finest fabric. When the poor cry out, you pass by on the other side of the street.

No, we are not so different.

Are you not a disciple of the Teacher? Did he not give you his Spirit to help and heal: to bind up their wounds, restore their sight, free them from the prison of poverty? He entrusted me with the money bag. He has entrusted you with his words and character—his very Spirit. And you have squandered it on yourself. Right the Teacher was to say of you:

“I was a stranger outside your door and you did not take me in. I was naked and you did not clothe me. I was sick and you did not bind my wounds and offer healing to me. I was in prison and you did not visit me.”

No, we are not so different.

Perhaps you will say of me, “What does Judas, that devil of Satan, know of the Teacher’s ways?  He is a traitor!”

Perhaps I am of the devil. What of it? Did the Teacher himself not choose me to serve as an example? Am I not the first of many “followers of the Teacher” to pursue the riches of the world rather than his righteousness? In one hand I hold a piece of bread the Teacher offered. In the other thirty silver coins. The conclusion of the matter is that I love neither—only despise myself. Right the Teacher was to say that we cannot serve Yahweh and wealth. We will hate the one, and love the other or hold to the one, and despise the other.

No, we are not so different.

Judge me if you wish. Your words cannot reach me in this place of despair. On the Day of Judgement I will stand for my crimes. On the Day of Judgement you will stand for every careless word spoken and be judged with the judgement you rendered. I expressed remorse for my actions. I sought to make restitution for my offenses. Where is your confession, your repentance, your restitution?

Perhaps you will quote these words to me: “I am saved by grace.” If so, then why do you sin with impunity as though the Teacher’s death on the cross means nothing to you.

No, we are not so different.

My name is Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, and I was a follower of the Teacher.

Who do you follow?

Simon the Leper

People We Meet on the Way to the Cross

Simon the Leper People We Meet on the Way to the Cross

That he would visit my house, the home of a leper, surprised even my friend Lazarus. But by the time the Rabbi arrived in Bethany, our town’s people crowded the streets for a glimpse of the one they called Jesus.

I myself only knew him as the Teacher who had healed me of this dreadful disease. Once an outcast and shunned by all, now neighbors pressed against my door and wished to be in my home in order to catch sight of the one rumored to be the Messiah.

The meal was lavish, for rumors swirled that Jesus would ride into Jerusalem and declare himself king of his people. Already temple priests, teachers of the law, Scribes and Pharisees gathered at the town gate to watch for any sign that he might overthrow the harsh rule of our Roman oppressors. But the concern of our religious rulers was not for the safety of our people. No, his following, his miracles, his healings and teaching threatened their position and standing.

When at last Jesus reclined at the table, Mary, Lazarus’ younger sister, dropped to her knees and poured oil—first on his feet, then his head. Soon the room filled with the most refreshing fragrance.

One could not help but wonder at Mary’s actions: kneeling in submission as Ruth once had before Boaz, spending a year’s wages on oil, touching Jesus in such an intimate way. Though not spoken aloud, many of us suspected that Lazarus’ younger sister desired to marry Jesus. And perhaps she might have pursued the matter if only Jesus had lived longer.

It is only now, upon reflection, that I can see how Mary gave her heart that night to the one she loved. I alone witnessed the look the two shared that evening. The tenderness of his gaze. The way the back of his fingers stroked her cheek as he brushed away her tears.

Days later when Jesus was crucified, Mary refused to attend his execution. I suspect the pain of his torment would have been too much to bear. When others rushed to his tomb, Mary refused to go. Her anointing before his death hinted at the suffering he would go through. She understood what the rest of us did not grasp until later—that none of us can keep Jesus to ourself. He had to die so he could be shared with all.

Jesus healed me of a vile infection that had, until his touch, left me unclean, my home unclean, my very soul unclean. That is the source of my love for him.

Mary’s love goes much deeper. Hers was born of faith and the belief that Jesus spoke truth when he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Even now the fragrance of the perfume lavished upon Jesus lingers in my home. And because it does, Mary will sometimes visit, kneeling in the place at my table where she did that evening the two touched. In silence, with eyes closed, she will rock back and forth, silently praying while tears stream down her face.

I confess, some nights when my home is dark, I too kneel and weep, praying once more he will touch and cleanse me of all ungodliness, forgive me of my sins, and heal me of all sickness. 

May the light of life always burn bright in my home.


(Matthew 26:6-13), (Mark 14:3-9) (John 12:1-8)