Kiss of Death
After saying this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
A number of hours passed between the time when Jesus named Judas as his betrayer, and when Judas sealed Jesus’ fate with a kiss. Still, this painting depicts a sense of shock in Jesus’ face as Judas approaches. Did Jesus think that perhaps Judas would change his mind, that God will deliver him? Or maybe it’s a reminder that whatever thoughts we have in our head, they will never compare to the lived experience.
Hyatt paints Judas’ back, suggesting betrayal, as he is “turning his back on Jesus.” And perhaps also a bit of shame on Judas’ part, not wanting to be seen or to show his face to those who observe the painting. And the use of deep red, dripping like blood into the white of the bottom of the canvas, is an ominous foreshadowing of what is to come for Jesus.
The stories of Judas, of the Roman soldiers, of Pilate and Herod, remind us that rarely does tragedy happen without human action. So often it is us — humans — who are the cause of the pain and death in the world. Rarely is it an accident. The promise of Easter is that God overcomes death through Jesus, and this work of overcoming continues today, through us, the Body of Christ as the Church.