The Guideposts Books senior editor recalls playing Judas in a church drama.
It’s Easter week 2010, and I’m well reminded of this because I’m growing a goatee as part of my preparation for a church drama I’m in about the Last Supper.
Why a goatee, you ask? That’s a very good question, because I’m more of a clean-cut guy, the kind who doesn’t grow goatees. The answer is, simply, I’m playing Judas, one of the most despised men in history.
This is my third year in a play where each of us disciples delivers a short monologue about our experiences with Jesus, and together we build the scene depicted in Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting. Having played Philip and Matthew, I felt ready to try Judas on for size.
For the most part, we know very little about Judas Iscariot. His background and role as a disciple is shrouded in mystery. One particularly interesting theory is that Judas was connected with the Zealot movement, and that he saw it as his role to force Jesus’ hand. Many thought of Jesus as a rising political leader, one who would repel the Roman oppressors and overthrow their priestly collaborators. So perhaps Judas, however misguided, felt it his duty to bring about this aspiration wished on Jesus.
Although the role of Judas that I’m playing is bringing me some insight into who he was, I feel fortunate that a book we’re releasing in May at GuidepostsBooks does this all the better. In The Galilean Secret, a novel about a letter by Jesus that reveals a fascinating interpretation about healing and love, author Evan Drake Howard creates a dramatic portrayal of Zealotry, Judas’ character, his actions and betrayal. Reading Howard’s manuscript gives you a pretty good idea of the political and personal turmoil Jesus may have faced in his final days, and just how terrifying Judas’ role is in the Passion story.
I hope I can bring a little of that drama to my performance this week. I hope I can show a little of what Jesus was up against, what he represented, and what his extraordinary actions represent.
Wish me well. But please, don’t say “break a leg.”