Tag Archives: Judas

The house where nobody lives

First of all, an update on our fundraiser: We’re over half way there!! As of last Monday, we are at $1650! Only $1350 to go to maximize the matching donation of $3000 – Let’s do this!

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

 “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. – From the gospel of Mark

Bob Frazer plays Judas alongside Todd Tomson in Pacific Theatre’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot – photo by Tim Matheson

A few years ago, I saw a play called The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. It is set in purgatory and a lawyer agrees to hear the case of Judas, who is in hell. The question is, should he be there? If God is a loving God, should forgiveness be extended to him? His mother, Sigmund Freud, Mother Teresa and other characters throughout history all testify for or against him. Even Satan gets a chance to speak. Throughout it, Judas is on stage, never says a word, he’s almost catatonic. The heartbreaking scene is at the very end when Jesus comes in and washes Judas’ feet. It left me weeping.

I always think Judas gets a bad rap. When I read the text in Matthew, I feel like he never thought that the priests and elders were going to hand him over to be killed. He rues his decision, tries to make it right, fails. Then he makes another mistake and kills himself, never gets a chance to see the end of the story… I bet Jesus’ would have washed his feet even then.

Tom Waits album cover for Mule Variations

Byron, the harmonica player in our band, reintroduced me Tom Waits’ music last year when we did “Come on up to the house.” Waits has a few songs with the word “house” in them, “The house where nobody lives” is just a poignant. He describes a broken down house that used to have a family living in it. Now the house is falling apart and Waits speculates at what might have happened.

Oh, and once it held laughter
Once it held dreams, did they throw it away, did they know what it means?
Did someone’s heart break
Or did someone do somebody wrong?

To me this describes Judas’ relationship with Jesus. It must have been filled with laughter at times and Judas’ clearly dreamt of something different than what he saw towards the end. Then, brokenhearted, he threw it all away, realizing he’d done Jesus wrong.

So if you find someone
Someone to have, someone to hold, don’t trade it for silver
Oh, don’t trade it for gold
‘Cause I have all of life’s treasures and they’re fine and they’re good
They remind me that houses are just made of wood
What makes a house grand, oh, it ain’t the roof or the doors
If there’s love in a house, it’s a palace for sure
But without love it ain’t nothin’ but a house
A house where nobody lives

I often think about the broken homes, the broken relationships that are represented by the children and youth who are served by Cyrus Centre. I wonder if there was laughter in those families at some point or what it was that dashed their dreams. I wonder if there was love. Your donation to Cyrus Centre helps this organization do its reconciliation work. Their goal is always, if it is at all possible, to reunite children with parents, to create healthy families again. If it’s not possible, they work hard to help those young people survive and be successful. If you have already made a donation, THANK YOU. Encourage your friends and family to consider a donation too. If you haven’t, why not? It doesn’t have to be a big gift – every little bit helps and all donations up to $3000 will be matched. Get the details on how to give on our Services Info Page.



To be alone with you

Lake MIchigan

I’d swim across Lake Michigan …

I’d swim across Lake Michigan

I’d sell my shoes

I’d give my body to be back again

In the rest of the room

To be alone with you….

 regret child statue

Regret (n) – A feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done

Have you ever done something you’ve regretted? Something where you’ve wished wholeheartedly, achingly that could you turn back the clock and change it, take it back, say something different, run toward instead of away – or vice versa. We’ve all witnessed events where we’ve wished we could have intervened and changed its course. But it’s so much worse when you’re the cause of something, especially when you started something that took on a life of its own and the outcome was never your intent.

I don’t know what Sufjan Stevens had in mind when he wrote this song, but the longer I sit with it, the more I envision it as the voice of Judas.

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. – Luke 22:1-6

I wonder what Judas was really thinking when he went to the Pharisees. Did he know that they were trying to kill Jesus? Really? After all the time he spent with Jesus, all those years? Yes, a little earlier, Jesus rebukes Judas after Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil. The Gospel of John identifies Judas as the one who suggests that it was a waste of money. John also indicates that Judas was a thief, regularly stealing from the apostle’s coffers. When Jesus says “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You’ll always have the poor but you won’t always have me,” did Judas feel more than the sting of rebuke? Did he think that Jesus realized he had been stealing all along?

Maybe. But is that enough to wish your friend dead? I wonder if Judas just wanted to the Pharisees to teach Jesus a lesson, take him down a notch, put him in his place (which is exactly what they did, ironically, and much to their own chagrin.)

You gave your body to the lonely

They took your clothes

You gave up a wife and a family

You gave your ghost

To be alone with me… to be alone with me you went up on the Tree…

 judas betraying jesus with a kiss

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.  “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Matthew 27:3

The Pharisees didn’t care much for Judas’ regret. “Not our problem,” they said. And when Judas realized their true intent, he went out and hanged himself. We always think of Judas as The Betrayer – which he was. I think we should call him Judas The Ruer. It’s a desperately sad chapter of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

Sufjan’s song ends with this line: I’ll never know the man who loved me…

All of Jesus’ disciples could have sung that line. None of them actually expected Jesus to be crucified – even after he told them that’s exactly what would happen. How could they have lived with him so intimately for so long and still get the ending so wrong? And yet I cannot be too hard on them because I don’t know that I’d have been any different. I’m living on this side of the resurrection, so I already know how the story ends. For me personally, this song asks me to consider something entirely different: In my too busy, hectic, information-bombarded, task-oriented life, what do I give to be alone with Jesus? Do I know the man who loves me?