Governor Bill Richardson has made it official. It is believed that he is the first super delegate since the entire flap over Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s inflammatory sermons to make it publicly known that he supports Barack Obama. Over the weekend Mr. Richardson made his announcement with Mr. Obama by his side before an excited audience wild with enthusiasm. Mr. Richardson confessed that it was a difficult decision. The Clintons are long time friends and Mr. Richardson served as part of President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. The Clintons lobbied hard for Mr. Richardson’s support. And Hillary Clinton had squeezed out a win in the state of New Mexico. Mr. Richardson said that Ms. Clinton would be a wonderful candidate as well. But with all things being equal, Mr. Obama is the best candidate for bringing the country together and taking all of us forward.
James Carville, the man who engineered and handled Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign aspirations, was not a happy man when the announcement was made. He compared Mr. Richardson to Judas, the disciple who is well known as the alleged betrayer of Jesus the Christ for a few pieces of silver. The assessment is so unfair on so many different levels. It is Mr. Carville’s position that Mr. Richardson owes the Clinton’s so much that the welfare of the public should take a backseat to loyalty. Even if Bill Richardson feels that Barack Obama is the better candidate to lead the country he should have supported the lesser candidate and short change the country. Mr. Carville is also implying that Ms. Clinton is the savior of this country and Bill Richardson betrayed her for his own personal gain. But when Mr. Richardson made his own bid for the presidency he obviously didn’t feel that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton was the best candidate for the job. Mr. Richardson felt that Bill Richardson was the best candidate for the job. If Mr. Carville wanted to call Mr. Richardson a traitor he should have done it before he dropped out of the race. And the fact that he associates betrayal to Judas was inappropriate as well.
As a young Christian, I was taught to hate the ancestor Judas Iscariot a long, long time ago. Judas betrayed the savior of the world for money. Thomas may have doubted the resurrection of Jesus. It was the disciple Peter that may have denied Jesus before the cock was through crowing. But it was the disciple Judas who is believed to have betrayed Jesus. Whenever the story of Jesus is depicted in a movie, Judas is regularly played as a black man. And many times, he is the only black actor in the performance. And I dutifully tried to learn to hate him.
But in the grand scheme of things, if the stories of Jesus are true Jesus was more than aware of what was going to happen. Jesus would not have become the icon of Christianity if he had not been crucified on the cross. Somebody had to turn him in in order for him to die for our sins. Judas had his role to play in the death and resurrection of Jesus. What would have happened if Judas did not do his part? I would imagine Jesus would have been waiting in that garden for something that would never come. And without his infamous death, there is a good chance that we would have only known the man Jesus and not the center icon of a religion Jesus.
In the Christian bible, the accounts of what happened between Jesus and Judas are told from the perspectives of Matthew, Mark, and Lucas. We know that Judas was Jesus’ right hand man. He was responsible for keeping tabs on the group’s funds and he was very close to Jesus. In the book and movie the DaVinci Code, it was suggested that some people believe that Jesus actually instructed Judas to turn him into the authorities. Imagine having a friend a best friend who has achieved rock star status among the public and becoming a thorn in the side of the establishment. Imagine your best friend asking you to turn him or her into the police. Imagine having your friend taken away to Abu Ghraib and being tortured within an inch of his life and then sentenced to die in the most tortuous, painful way possible. Depending on the depth of the love between the two, the betrayal could drive a person to suicide.
But interestingly enough, a few years ago, someone found a copy of the gospel according to Judas written in the third or fourth century. According to the teachings of Judas, it was not an act of betrayal but an act of obedience. Jesus required someone to set in motion the events that led to his spiritual release and to the inevitable fulfillment of the theological requirements that call for his ultimate sacrifice. The fact that there is a book of Judas should debunk the notion that this disciple ran off and killed himself as depicted in the gospel of Matthew and Acts and in many programs documenting the last days of the Christ. In the gospel of Judas, the other eleven disciples actually killed Judas by stoning.
One of the things that I was always naïve about was the fact that the twelve disciples got along well and were selfless and were the salt of the earth. But with any group of people there is bound to be some jockeying to usurp the position of Jesus’ successor. There were bound to be some first century examples of the political infighting that we’re being exposed to today. And character assassination against an opponent is one of the time honored traditions that people seeking power stoop to when their grab for power looks tentative. And with Judas being the frontrunner to being the chosen successor of Jesus, character assassination is probably a sure bet in the chaos that followed Jesus’ crucifixion. Anyone who follows Judas follows a man that betrayed Jesus. Judas says Jesus instructed him to betray him. Does that make sense to you? It doesn’t make sense to me! He probably did it for a few pieces of silver. Don’t follow a man that betrays people and doesn’t make any sense. Follow me! I make a lot of sense! A stone thrown at Judas is a stones throw for Jesus!
In the end, in the long run, I know that the ancestor Jesus did what he knew to be the right thing to do. And I also believe that if Jesus could turn to Peter and tell him that he would deny him he knew what was coming. In fact, it is my theory that Jesus was actually counting on this lone disciple and his close friend. Judas was only doing his part to assure that what was to happen occur as it was foretold. Judas was only doing what he had to do. Judas had to do what he believed is right. In this respect, maybe Mr. Carville’s accusation of Bill Richardson is more accurate than any of us may realize. Mr. Richardson is making the hard choice to do what is right for everyone. And if this makes him like Judas, I’m sure he should find himself in good company.