Playing the part of Judas in the Passion Play had a profound impact on me.
Just being part of the production generally was a really special experience. There was such a sense of sharing a vision and a purpose with the whole cast and crew, led by Darren’s direction and Anne’s vision and leadership as our Performing Arts Mission Enabler. Every rehearsal began and ended with prayer, and every detail of rehearsal was shaped by the what we hoped would be experience by “Ethel” (random audience member), as the audience was immersed in the Easter story of Jesus.
But none were more immersed in that story than we were. Holy Week for me was so much more of a “Holy Week” than my usual experience (as a minister who is usually more intent on helping other encounter the story, and ironically end up being too busy to stop and experience it for myself). This time I had no choice. This time I was right there in the story, every night of Holy Week right up to Good Friday.
And playing Judas! Playing Judas… as I said at the start, this role had a huge impact on me. I found myself deeply moved to compassion and empathy with this outcast disciple. He was there with Jesus for everything… except the resurrection. One wrong choice… for whatever reason… followed by a fatal final choice that robbed him of the second chance that Peter was given. Or did it? I couldn’t help wondering… did Judas encounter Jesus on the other side of death? Did they talk? Did they have it out? Did Judas get a chance to repent?
I hope one day I will see Judas in the presence of our risen Lord. Like me he made mistakes. Am I any better than Judas? Do I deserve grace more than he does? God knows I have betrayed… and been betrayed.
God’s grace is boundless and free.
By the last performance, all these thoughts and feelings had built up in me to such an extent that by the time I walked on to sing one last time No human heart could ever know the pain the Father knew… I was in tears - genuine tears - I didn’t need to try and contour them up for effect.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus: “He let it be… for me.”
Jesus, lived, died and lives again, for me. For you. And yes, I believe it: even for Judas.
By Rev. Brenton Prigge