By Matthew Hooper
To many people’s surprise on of my favorite movies is Jesus Christ Superstar. Most Christians I know hate it, mainly due to the theological flaws in it. But my love for this musical comes for a number at the end. Judas is singing to Jesus on the cross. Voicing all of his frustrations at how things went down. Both at his betrayal, and how he felt Jesus betrayed the people, how he didn’t get the message out enough. Voicing out that as the Son of God he could have done more. The writers of the song are trying to drive you into the mind of Judas in these last moments. Not Judas the betrayer, but Judas the follower.
I was reintroduced to a song tonight by A Great Big World called ‘Say Something’. The song is hauntingly beautiful. The official video even more so, as both paint a picture of relationship ending and breaking in the most horrible fashions. But as I listened to this song I didn’t hear or see the relationships portrayed but my mind went somewhere else. This is a link to the song listen as you read
I could clearly see Judas as he slowly walked to a tree in Potter’s field. His lips trembling as he stumbled forward, nearly blinded as the tears just poured down his face. The last three years running through his mind. The people he watched be healed, even some faces whom he healed by the power given to him when he sent out. Remembering words that no Rabbi had ever spoken, dwelling on each one as if he was hearing them for the first time. Some striking him harder than others. “It is not what you eat that makes you unclean, but it is what is inside of you”, “Verily, verily I tell you the kingdom is at hand”, “Do you see me, than you have seen ABBA”, “Follow me”. His mind races to these last days. He didn’t want to betray Jesus, but he knew he had to stop him. It was like a compulsion. Things weren’t going the way he thought, was this Jesus really freeing people? Rome was still here. He remember the weight when the silver was first put into his hand, the coins shifted in the bag. But it was not the weight of the bag that weighted him, it was the bargain. The second he promised the Pharisees his friend, a man who was a close as a brother who he walked with through all of Israel, his feet began to drag his heart too heavy to carry.
As he stood at this wretch of a tree. Judas’s hands wrung the rope he was holding. His whimpers growing in volume, moans echoing into the country side. Hours before hand he watched from the bushes as Jesus prayed. He heard his friends anguish. The cry’s of pain as Jesus had his last night. Again and again he heard Jesus cry “for them Father, for them. Not my will but yours.” In the small glimpses of moonlight Judas saw the blood drip out of the pores of Christ’s brow. With his heart growing heavier and heavier Judas stumbled out of the dark. A shadow of himself, a ghost move by history, and kissed Jesus on the check. Until that moment he thought this would end right, but now knew it was all betrayal. Who was he following now?
The thud of the rope against the tree drove Judas to his knees, the sound clashing with the dropping of the silver coins. Blood money. Not Jesus’ blood, his, this money bought their betrayer, it bought Judas. He can’t return his betrayal. Judas screams out in anguish, he doesn’t know who he is yelling at any more. Blood spews from his throat he yells so hard. “SAY SOMETHING! I’M SORRY I CAN”T…ANYWHERE I WOULD HAVE FOLLOWED YOU! SAY SOMETHING!….rabboni….abba..Yesua?” Then Judas slides his head into the noose. His hand quakes as it slowly slips from the trunk of the tree, he begins to utter his last words “I..” but nothing more comes as his neck snaps from the noose tightening. Judas a man who just spilled his guts in an empty field. Trying one last time to be a follower, but his way fully lost.
Matthew Hooper is a husband to Kim, and father to Joey (3), Meira (2 years), and Amelia (6 months). He serves as a Pastor at Dixionville Wesleyan Church in Clymer, PA. Matthew also journeys around Pennsylvania as a photographer. And whenever he has spare time, he works on his Masters in Leadership. Matthew’s a huge comic geek.