At once while he was still speaking Judas appeared - one of the twelve - and with him a crowd with swords and sticks from the chief priests, scholars and elders. The one betraying him had given them a sign saying, "Whomever I kiss is he. Seize him and take him off securely." At once coming up to him he said "Rabbi!" and kissed him lovingly.
They got their hands on him and seized him.
But one of the bystanders drawing a sword struck the high priest's slave and cut off his ear.
Speaking out Jesus said to them "Did you come out with swords and sticks as if against a rebel to arrest me? Daily I was with you in the Temple teaching and you didn't seize me. But the scriptures must be done."
- Mark's gospel
(the high priest's slave)
There was so much betrayal that night. I know what I saw and half-heard. It is my job to pay attention to detail.
As we made our way to the garden, he, Judas - one of the twelve - led us. But we were not quite sure what or who we were following. He was three or four steps ahead of the crowd the entire trip, gritting the word "Rabbi" through his teeth, over and over and over, like one who had been touched in the head or something. There were two specific moments when he stopped walking, just stopped. The crowd, obviously, stopped as well. Judas just stood there, repeating that word to no one in particular. Something had been betrayed in that man; he was not right.
As we reached our goal, I was shocked. He did not look as he had in the Temple teaching. That night he was covered in sweat and earth, like some animal that had been burrowing in the ground. He resembled that prophet who lost his head.
He, Judas - one of the twelve - had rehearsed his word our entire trip. Now, in his soliloquy of betrayal, he gave a fluid performance. It was as if he was suddenly sane and self-composed. He stepped directly into the space of the one they called "Lord", in his physical space.
The word rang clear in the night air. And then we saw the sign. It is truly an evil generation that looks for a sign.
We then stepped into his physical space. There was a patch of pale on his face now, the place of the sign. He, Judas - one of the twelve - turned and our eyes met, if only for a moment. His lips were dirty. He stepped away, repeating that word again. His sanity had vanished.
Then everything happened so fast, it was hard to keep up, even for one who pays attention. We put our hands on him, handled him. He did not flex to resist. I heard the whisk of a sword cut the air and then felt a strange warmth down the side of my neck. In the torchlight I could see the reason for the warmth: blood. My hands immediately rushed to my right ear, now torn by the bystander's blade. But as I cringed in shock and fear, I did not stop listening. Even left-eared, I am one who pays attention.
But the scriptures must be done.
And if I were to summarize the night for you, that's the word I would choose - script. It was as if a script were being played out. There were many minor characters - the chorus of the crowd. Major characters? Only a few. Maybe only one, really. But wide-eyed betrayal was the theme of that act, that scene. Betrayal gestates for hours or days or months and then, full born, makes people crazy. People like he, Judas - one of the twelve. Like the crowd with sticks and swords. Like his followers still wiping sleep from their frightened eyes. And like him, not resisting our hands, our eyes, our breath, our anger and confusion, our enslavement to a script written by someone else. The man they called "Lord" seemed to have just accepted his role. Maybe he had found something as he burrowed in the earth, a reassurance of something. And so He played his part in that scene. The scriptures must be done.