The last time we left the scene, Judas and Satan were beholding Jesus who had just joined them in the barren wasteland of darkness.
Judas is wrestling in his mind with what is before him. He’s seen Jesus in a spectrum of human emotion and experience, but he’s never seen him like this. This is a side of Jesus that Judas is unfamiliar with, which is a wind that begins to toss Judas himself.
Satan continues the momentum of twisted words and accusations, stirring up strife in Judas heart while trying to divide the Son from the love of his Father. Jesus is now on trial in hell while taking on the sins of the world, and according to his accuser, now he knows what it’s like to be faithful and hear nothing in response. As these sins are being taken upon him, Jakub Rebelka lays more vivid art on the pulp for the reader.
Thus far, the Judas mini-series has been an imaginative exploration of events. What it feels like to me at this point is that Satan is telling Jesus that his works have not made him righteous, just like the rest of us. The fear, the guilt, the separation; it’s all because Jesus has believed the lie that the rest of us do. Judas is as unfamiliar with this side of Jesus as Scripture is. This is a Jesus that lost his identity and broken the over and over commandment of Do not fear. Perhaps it is also because the whole “Jesus went to hell for three days” event is a questionable discussion, as well, but that is the machine to make this story move forward. God is infinite and therefore not under any threat from a comic book any more than he is threatened by the accusations of Satan.
As the trial continues, the other thief on the cross comes forward. This is the thief who did not ask to be remembered in paradise, bringing to Jesus his own self-righteous comparison. Judas has seemingly been wrestling with God’s absolute sovereignty in the extremes of being a manipulative puppet master, but then the story turns to seeing Jesus as weak in his own rescue mission. “I tried.” He is accused for his sovereignty and then made not sovereign.
This flip flop of Jesus’s role in the biggest story of all history is confusing. Maybe the author, Jeff Loveness, is going this direction because of the fear that Jesus is caving into and the accusations of the devil are finally causing him to doubt the love of his Father, and therefore his mission? Even suffering and weakness he experienced during his crucifixion did not drain him of his power and authority that this story seems to.
With his final breath before he enters this story, even after he asks, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus boldly proclaims that It is finished. In the juxtaposition that has become common here, Satan echoes his words, and we see a change in Judas that sets him up to be the savior of the Savior.
I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt that I am not reading this clearly, as there’s one more issue to be published. As it stands, it feels like Jesus is being stripped of all that makes him compelling, like his power in weakness. Here, he is even more confused and conflicted than Judas is.
A final thought. In their song called As The World Bleeds, the band Theocracy has a line that I was thinking about while writing this post. “Why do we call for free will and reject all consequence?” It’s that feeling of a thing negating itself leaving a meaning of nothing. Maybe, though, this story is meant to leave the reader feeling that way. Maybe, we are meant to see that robbed of a story with meaning, a barren wasteland paradise is all we have.
Regardless of who Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka portray Jesus as in this story, we would do well to follow Jesus’s words and make that judgment for ourselves.
Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” – Luke 9:18-20
“Who do you say that I am?” How will we know without the accounts of Scripture?
I am conflicted yet anticipating the final issue. We will see how this story concludes.