(Approximate translation of extract from Judas Iscariot’s recently unearthed journal.)
Am approached by a Roman centurion in a crowded bazaar. He asks me would I be willing to betray Jesus. It would be worth my while. He winks. I make an instant calculation. Eternal damnation or never having to hear another parable about sheep ever again. I decide to pursue the matter.
“How much you offering?”
“Thirty pieces of silver.”
Not bad. And anyway Rispah has been nagging me for weeks to buy her that new kethoteth. I look at the centurion.
“That sounds like a very interesting proposition.”
He wonders when I can do it. I tell him Thursday night. Jesus has organized this big get-together. Some supper thing. A thought crosses my mind. “By the way, why do you need me in the first place? Why don’t you just apprehend him yourselves?”
He sighs and shakes his head. Almost embarrassed. He states that although they have had Jesus under surveillance for the last number of years they have absolutely no idea what he looks like. He admits they fall down somewhat in that whole monitoring an individual and facial recognition area, and it is something they definitely need to improve on in the future.
He suggests a plan. After our meal on Thursday night, he and a few of his soldiers will be waiting outside and he proposes that I should kiss Jesus for identification purposes.
Hold it right there, buddy.
“Did you say I have to kiss him?”
“Yeh. Those are the orders.”
“Can I not just point him out?”
“No,” he persists, “You have to kiss him. Orders are orders. They come from above.”
He points to the sky. I’m confused.
“No. Pontius Pilate you idiot!”
I start to mumble.
“I feel uneasy kissing a man in public. Or in private, for that matter. It’s just something I wouldn’t normally do.”
“Come off it. Look what the Greeks got up to! Were you ever in a Roman bath? Loosen up. Just one little peck.”
I bring up my parents.
“I’m sorry. I was brought up in quite a traditional household. That’s all.”
He glares at me.
“Look, Judas, there are guys out there who’d imbibeth his loins for thirty pieces of silver — all we’re asking you to do is kiss him.”
I think about what he has said for a moment and realize he has put things in perspective. I agree to kiss Jesus.
Suddenly it’s Thursday night. We all turn up at the place. Newly opened. “Gethsemane Nosh.” Quite flashy and very busy. Jesus goes up to the maître d’.
“Good evening. A party of thirteen. Booked in the name of Christ.”
The maître d’ consults his bookings scroll. Sighs.
“Christ, is it? Let me see. No. I don’t see the name here.”
Jesus looks at Peter. “Did you book?”
No response. Jesus goes ballistic.
“I can’t believe this! Peter, I told you to book. I even reminded you the following day. It’s the Last Supper! It’s so important that we have this meal!”
There is an awkward silence. The maître d’ looks at us.
“I’ll see what I can do.” He leaves.
“We can go somewhere else, Lord,” Bartholomew suggests.
Jesus shakes his head. He’s getting agitated. Really starting to lose it.
“This time on a Thursday night? It’s hopeless, Bartholomew! Most places will be all booked up.”
I’m secretly relieved. I have 16 sweaty men in leather skirts hiding outside in a bush. I don’t want us going anywhere.
The maître d’ returns.
“I can fit you in, but I’ll have to break you up into two tables of four and a table five, is that all right?”
Jesus sighs. “Well, I was hoping for a group table because I have some extremely important things to say that sort of determine the future of Christianity…but if it’s the best you can do.”
We get three different tables in three different corners of the restaurant. I get to sit with Jesus, Peter, Andrew and Doubting Thomas. In a poky little alcove, right next to the kitchen. Jesus is still shaking his head and muttering at Peter, who just stares straight ahead. Finally Jesus calms down a little and asks for some bread and wine. Great! I could do with a glass. Ease this tension.
The bread and wine arrive.
“I think it’s corked.”
It happens every time. When we go anywhere with that Doubting Thomas it’s always the same story. There’s always something. Andrew, the self-confessed sommelier of our group, sniffs at the wine.
“It’s not corked. There’s a hint of cinnamon, that’s all. But it’s a perfectly quaffable above average vin de table.”
Jesus picks up a piece of the bread. He taps at the side of his goblet as if about to make a speech. He clears his throat.
“Take this all of you, well, just the four of you” — he signals weakly at us — “and eat it. For this is my body!” We look puzzled. Suddenly a bell rings loudly. Pandemonium. A fire has broken out in the kitchen. We are told to evacuate the premises. The emergency exit. Go out the back way. The back way! The perspiring pedites are still out front! What do I do? Do I kiss Jesus? Do I wait?
Five minutes later. We’re outside. No sign of the leggy legionaries. Jesus addresses us.
“Look, let’s just write this evening off. It hasn’t worked out. The mix-up with the booking. The seating arrangements. The unfortunate blaze.”
“Can we reschedule for next Thursday?”