Judas came to my house that Friday, upon the eve of the passover; and he knocked at my door with force.
When he entered I looked at him, and his face was ashen. His hands trembled like dry twigs in the wind, and his clothes were as wet as if he had stepped out from a river; for on that evening there were great tempests.
He looked at me, and the sockets of his eyes were like dark caves and his eyes were blood-sodden.
And he said, "I have delivered Jesus of Nazareth to His enemies and to my enemies."
Then Judas wrung his hands and he said, "Jesus declared that He would overcome all His foes and the foes of our people. And I believed and I followed Him.
"When first He called us to Him He promised us a kingdom mighty and vast, and in our faith we sought His favor that we might have honorable stations in His court.
"We beheld ourselves princes dealing with these Romans as they have dealt with us. And Jesus said much about His kingdom, and I thought He had chosen me a captain of His chariots, and a chief man of his warriors. And I followed His footsteps willingly.
"But I found it was not a kingdom that Jesus sought, nor was it from the Romans He would have had us free. His kingdom was but the kingdom of the heart. I heard Him talk of love and charity and forgiveness, and the wayside women listened gladly, but my heart grew bitter and I was hardened.
"My promised king of Judea seemed suddenly to have turned flute-player, to soothe the mind of wanderers and vagabonds.
"I had loved Him as others of my tribe had loved Him. I had beheld Him a hope and a deliverance from the yoke of the aliens. But when He would not utter a word or move a hand to free us from that yoke, and when He would even have rendered unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, then despair filled me and my hopes died. And I said, 'He who murders my hopes shall be murdered, for my hopes and expectations are more precious than the life of any man'."
Then Judas gnashed his teeth; and he bent down his head. And when he spoke again, he said, "I have delivered Him up. And He was crucified this day... Yet when He died upon the cross, He died a king. He died in the tempest as deliverers die, like vast men who live beyond the shroud and the stone.
"And all the while He was dying, He was gracious, and He was kindly; and His heart was full of pity. He felt pity even for me who had delivered Him up."
And I said, "Judas, you have committed a grave wrong."
And Judas answered, "But He died a king. Why did He not live a king?"
And I said again, "You have committed a grave crime."
And he sat down there, upon that bench, and he was as still as a stone.
But I walked to and fro in the room, and once more I said, "You have committed a great sin."
But Judas said not a word. He remained as silent as the earth.
And after a while he stood up and faced me and he seemed taller, and when he spoke his voice was like the sound of a cracked vessel; and he said, "Sin was not in my heart. This very night I shall seek His kingdom, and I shall stand in His presence and beg His forgiveness.
"He died a king, and I shall die a felon. But in my heart I know He will forgive me."
After saying these words he folded his wet cloak around him and he said, "It was good that I came to you this night even though I have brought you trouble. Will you also forgive me?
"Say to your sons and to your sons' sons: 'Judas Iscariot delivered Jesus of Nazareth to His enemies because he believed Jesus was an enemy to His own race.'
"And say also that Judas upon the selfsame day of his great error followed the King to the steps of His throne to deliver up his own soul and to be judged.
"I shall tell Him that my blood also was impatient for the sod, and my crippled spirit would be free."
Then Judas leaned his head back against the wall and he cried out, "O God whose dreaded name no man shall utter ere his lips are touched by the fingers of death, why did you burn me with a fire that had no light?
"Why did you give the Galilean a passion for a land unknown and burden me with desire that would not escape kin or hearth? And who is this man Judas, whose hands are dipped in blood?
"Lend me a hand to cast him off, an old garment and a tattered harness.
"Help me to do this tonight.
"And let me stand again outside of these walls.
"I am weary of this wingless liberty. I would a larger dungeon.
"I would flow a stream of tears to the bitter sea. I would be a man of your mercy rather than one knocking at the gate of his own heart."
Thus Judas spoke, and thereupon he opened the door and went out again into the tempest.
Three days afterwards I visited Jerusalem and heard of all that had come to pass. And I also heard that Judas had flung himself from the summit of the High Rock.
I have pondered long since that day, and I understand Judas. He fulfilled his little life, which hovered like a mist on this land and enslaved by the Romans, while the great prophet was ascending the heights.
One man longed for a kingdom in which he was to be a prince.
Another man desired a kingdom in which all men shall be princes.