(Book image from Amazon).
Iscariot is a beautifully written story that is familiar to most of us…The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. However, in this case, it is told from Judas’s point of view and raises some interesting questions. What events led up to Judas deciding to hand Jesus over to His enemies for 30 pieces of silver? What exactly did he expect to gain from this? Did he really not realize the Jewish leaders would kill Jesus? Did Judas honestly think he was helping Israel’s cause? Did the other disciples not realize what Judas was doing, and if they did, couldn’t they have stopped him?
Judas is someone whose name is associated with betrayal, and rightly so; the Bible is clear he betrayed Jesus. But we don’t know a great deal about Judas other than the few details in the Bible. Ms. Lee helps her readers consider that Judas was human and subject to pain, weaknesses and fears. Although this is historical fiction, Iscariot does give us a glimpse into the culture and some information on how the Israelites might have lived during this time. The book traces Judas’s (possible) childhood and young adult years before he met Jesus and the other disciples. A series of tragic events lead him to turn to the Law and his political concerns (namely, freedom from Roman rule) as a source of comfort and stability. Then Judas meets Jesus, and things are not the same. What is going on politically at this time, along with the dialogue between Jesus and His disciples and Judas’s take on what is happening make for a compelling story.
I think the most important thing I learned from reading Iscariot was to not assume it could never happen to me. Many things, including pain, loss, misplaced loyalty, selfishness, greed, ambition and good intentions that go horribly wrong can lead to stupid, misguided, tragic and yes, unspeakable actions. It could have been any of us in Judas’s shoes. We are all in our own way betrayers of Jesus; He wouldn’t have had to die if that wasn’t the case.