The Disciple Judas

Room 303

The central figure of the panel is a dead tree-the symbol of the betrayer, Judas.    Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples.  There was no pressure on Judas to join this select group of followers.  Jesus had discouraged many who seemed very likely prospects.  The fact that Judas voluntarily became part of the inner circle of Jesus suggests that there was a side to his nature that the tragic events at the end of his life did not reveal. 

Judas was the only disciple from Judea so there were differences between him and the other Galilean disciples. Because his language, customs and religious practices differed, perhaps he did not feel accepted by the other disciples and felt isolated at times.

As his life unfolded, Judas made a series of wrong decisions.  This was a man who was torn between the love of his Teacher and the love of money.  Perhaps he had the desire to not only see the Kingdom of God, but also, was driven by his ambition to find his significant role in it on his timetable. 

Judas was the treasurer for the disciples.  In John 12:3-8, Judas is critical of Mary because she anointed Jesus’ feet with costly perfume. His response is written on the tree. It reads, “Why was this ointment not sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor?”  Verse six continues, “He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.”

Judas was with Jesus throughout his ministry.  He experienced the miracles and Jesus’ teaching.  Yet, he could not resolve the many inner conflicts that taunted him.  

The religious leaders of the day wanted to kill Jesus.  Since there always seemed to be crowds around Jesus it was difficult to arrest him.  Judas agreed to help the Jewish leaders find an inconspicuous opportunity to arrest him.  But the information came with a price.  The tree records his request to the Jewish leaders.  “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?”  He received thirty pieces of silver to betray his teacher and friend.

On the tree another phrase is recorded.  It was at the last supper that Jesus shared with his disciples that someone would betray him.  Judas along with the other disciples asked, “It is I, Master?”  Jesus answered Judas, “You are the one.”

After supper Judas slipped out and led the Jewish leaders and soldiers to arrest Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane.  Judas told them, “The one I kiss is the man, seize him.”  Those words are also written on the tree.  Jesus was arrested, killed, but three days later, he was raised from the dead proving that he was indeed the Son of God.

The tree is executed in tones of brown, gray and black to show the sin and death that filled Judas.  At the roots are coin shapes suggesting his thievery and greed. At every point the water of life, which is blue, is blocked from feeding the tree by the coins of greed or the blackness of sin. 

At the center left is the skull of death, which also resembles a Roman coin-the symbol of Judas’ betrayal of Christ.  The background of yellow stones in various angles shows the agony and turbulence in his life as well as the cowardice of his actions.

The gospel writers tell us that when Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to Jewish leaders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”  And he threw the money down on the floor of the temple and was so despondent that he hung himself. 

Judas was a tragic figure, but his life illustrates well the way sin quietly influences our decisions.  No matter how Judas justified his decisions, they did not improve his life, but only brought him sadness and despair. 

Jesus offers his love and forgiveness to everyone who believes in him.  He has conquered sin, death and the devil for us and offers to us the gift of everlasting life with Him in heaven.  The theme of this mosaic reminds us that manipulating our relationship with Christ on our own terms, as Judas did, only creates inner conflict and despair.  

In memory of Mr. John Benedeck

Donated by Mrs. John Benedeck

Last Published: November 2, 2013 5:07 PM
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