The Face of the Betrayer

One theme I enjoy exploring is what I call “The Face of the Betrayer.” I pull scenes from productions that show a character in an act of betrayal. Judas and Peter are not the only ones who denied or turned against Christ; we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Roman 3:23). The face of the betrayer character almost always shows the regret of their choice, if only for a moment. This is what interests me: the change of heart from self-righteousness to contrition, and a desire to receive forgiveness and God’s love, perhaps.

One example from a song:

In an effort to get inside the head of Christ’s betrayer, and to admit the sinfulness of his own nature (like a Psalm might have acted for David), Paul Hewson, known as Bono of U2, wrote the song, “Until the End of the World.” Written as if a drunken Judas is talking to Christ, he begins with what looks like mild contempt for the subject, but becomes increasingly regretful and desperate for help, as the song progresses. Notice, especially, the changing chorus line regarding the end of the world.

Until the End of the World – U2

Haven’t seen you for quite a while

I was down the hole just passing time

Last time we met was a low-lit room [The Upper Room / Last Supper]

We were as close together as a bride and groom

We ate the food, we drank the wine

Everybody having a good time

Except you

You were talking about the end of the world

I took the money

I spiked your drink

You miss too much these days if you stop to think

You lead me on with those innocent eyes

You know I love the element of surprise

In the garden I was playing the tart

I kissed your lips and broke your heart

You

You were acting like it was the end of the world

Love…love…love…love…love…love…

Love…love…love…love…love…love…

Love…love…love…love…

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows

But my sorrows, they learned to swim

Surrounding me, going down on me

Spilling over the brim

Waves of regret, waves of joy

I reached out for the one I tried to destroy

You, you said you’d wait till the end of the world.

~copyright © U2

The closing chorus clings to hope in both a childish and a selfish way, but also in a Jacob-like “I won’t let you go until you bless me” challenge to Christ: “You said you would wait ‘til the end of the world.”  Please, please have meant it, Bono’s Judas seems to say. Here’s an artist’s idea of what Judas might’ve thought. It can deepen our pity for Judas – and for ourselves, wretched sinners who desperately need God’s mercy at the cross. In a similar way within Peter Jackson’s version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sam Gamgee asks Frodo WHY he wants to help Gollum, a creature full of “lies & deceit”. Frodo’s reply: “Because I have to believe he can come back.” Frodo, like Gollum, is under the influence of the evil ring of power, warping his soul by proximity to the despicable thing. If Gollum, so much more wretched than Frodo, has any chance of being saved, then Frodo has a hope of coming back from this horror, too. We are, we hope desperately, only as far gone as Frodo- but if our sinfulness has made our lowly condition even worse than we thought, warping our souls into a creature such as Gollum, then like Frodo we need our signs of hope, even if they come in the shape of nasty, pitiful Gollum.

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2 responses to “The Face of the Betrayer

  1. Insightful, meaningful and we Christians need to reach and uncover the hidden truth in art. Then, in creating it, we take part in it, hide it and update the meaning to our own selves.

    This is a lovely post, sweet wife. With a rebel yell I cry, more, more more…

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