Holy Wednesday: Gallows

LOOK: Portrait of Judas by Julia Stankova

Stankova, Julia_Portrait of Judas
Julia Stankova (Bulgarian, 1954–), Portrait of Judas, 2004. Tempera, gouache, watercolor, and lacquer technique on wood, 45 × 60 cm.

In this painting by Julia Stankova, Judas presses in for his infamous kiss, identifying Jesus to his captors. Stankova portrays the moment as one of double woe, leading to the death of both Jesus and Judas. To heighten the emotional impact, she tightly crops the composition, eliminating all other figures besides the two. Jesus closes his eyes to receive with grace what has been a long time coming. Judas keeps his open. With one arm, he embraces his former friend; with the other, he holds a branch that’s ornamented, forebodingly, with his own dangling corpse. The Bulgarian inscription names the painting: Portrait of Judas.

Adapted from my commentary originally published in the two-part IMB article “Journey to the Cross: Artists Visualize Christ’s Passion.”

LISTEN: “Gallows of My Desire” by Kris MacQueen, on Good Morning. Happy Easter. 3 (2014)

Tonight we ate together
Bread and the wine cooked rare
You looked so disappointed
When I took off down the stairs
We took the road together
But I just exited right
I’ll see you in a little while
And again on the other side

I stood above you
Like a conqueror
And you stood beside me like a friend
I kissed you goodbye
At the gates of hell
But you’ve always called my bluff
Yeah, you know my every tell

Tonight I’m taking matters
Into my guilty hands
Just sold the Prince of Peace out
For a little stretch of land
There’s nothing like the yoke
Of the innocent when they die
It came upon me like a stone
When I saw the deed was mine [Refrain]

Now I’m swinging in the gallows
Of my own desire
My spirit is departing to God knows where
Is there a grace sufficient
To receive this broken soul?
You bled out for the whole wide world
How ’bout your very own? [Refrain]

But I always knew I’d bow to you in the end

Kris MacQueen is a singer-songwriter and former pastor from Kitchener, Ontario. Since 2019 he has been recording music with his wife, Liv, under the name The MacQueens. It is their voices on “Gallows.” This song was released in 2014 on a little six-song compilation album of Passion-Easter-Pentecost music put out by Morning and Night Music, which is no longer available. I asked MacQueen if he’d be willing to post his contribution online so that you all can enjoy it, and he obliged!

The song is in the voice of Judas, who is feeling the full weight of his betrayal—the innocent Christ’s death a yoke or a millstone around his neck. Many Christian interpreters think that Judas gave Jesus up to the authorities as a way to force his hand; impatient with Jesus’s not seizing power from Rome, Israel’s political oppressors, he thought that an arrest would be just the inciting event Jesus needed to finally unleash the forces of heaven against the empire, obtaining vindication and freedom for God’s people. Judas, according to this theory, was genuinely shocked and horrified when Jesus submitted to the capture and then the death sentence.

By asserting his own plans and desires counter to God’s, Judas effectively builds his own death trap, as the guilt over the consequences of his betrayal leads him to suicide. But before tying that noose, maybe, we can only hope, he sought redemption for his wrongdoing. His return of the blood money seems to indicate as much. He was clearly remorseful. MacQueen’s Judas prays from the gallows, pleading the blood of Jesus. If Jesus’s blood can save even the most odious of sinners, he reasons, then surely it avails for me. But he’s not so sure; he poses it as a question, a challenge, even.

The final line of the song suggests that in the end, perhaps Judas was finally able to see the rightness of Jesus’s way and was able to bow not to the king he imagined or wanted him to be, but to the king he was—the Prince of Peace, the servant-Christ, the sacrificial Lamb.

Roundup: Via Dolorosa with medical X-rays, hope in the night, and more

PRINT SUITE: Via Dolorosa by William Frank: Commissioned by SSM Saint Louis University Hospital for their chapel, this set of Stations of the Cross prints by William Frank combines depictions of Christ’s passion with diagnostic X-ray imaging of patients from the hospital’s archives. “The human body, and the community, act as the landscape,” he told me. A bullet in the spine, a kidney stone, a wrist fracture, a tumor, tuberculosis of the bones—Jesus’s suffering unfolds against the backdrop of these specific, tangible forms of suffering. But the rainbow color scheme transforms the stark black-and-white medical images into something a little less scary, suggesting hope and promise—maybe healing, maybe not, but at the very least, divine accompaniment along the path of sorrow.

Frank, William_Via Dolorosa
William Frank (American, 1984–), Via Dolorosa (installation detail), 2020. Etching, archival inkjet, chin collé, with embossment, suite of fourteen prints, overall 4 × 16 ft. SSM Saint Louis University Hospital Chapel, St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: Lisa Johnston, courtesy of the artist.

This year, the Catholic Health Association of the United States created a set of video reflections around Frank’s Stations, one for each piece, which you can find at https://www.chausa.org/prayers/lent-reflections. They also shot a video conversation with the artist:

The suite won a Faith & Form International Award for Religious Architecture & Art.


NEW SONG: “Spooling” by Rev. Matt Simpkins: Diagnosed with stage 4 skin cancer, the Rev. Matt Simpkins [previously] of Lexden in Colchester, an Anglican vicar and a rock musician, said the only way he could calm his nerves enough to get through his next MRI scan was by writing a song from inside the machine. He composed some words and harmonies in his head to the “groovy,” sonorous beeps of the scanner, recording the song afterward using sampling, thus turning a typically threatening, antiseptic medical sound into a party vibe. He was interviewed on the BBC about it last month:

And here’s the bizarre music video, with special effects!

“I’m in a difficult situation with stage 4 cancer, but again, you’ve got a choice, and this song is a good example of that—how you can take something up into song and live,” he says. He hopes the song will minister to those who are undergoing cancer treatment or facing a possible diagnosis—that it is a small oasis, a source of silly laughter, comfort, and strength, for those in dire health.

“Spooling” is the first single from Simpkins’s forthcoming album Pissabed Prophet, a collaboration with his friend Ben Brown. The album is available for preorder on Bandcamp.


ART COMMENTARY: The Apostle Judas by Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin: As part of the Visual Commentary on Scripture project, Dr. Adrienne Dengerink Chaplin has selected three artworks that in some way interpret Matthew 26:20–25 (and parallel passages), when at the Last Supper Jesus announces that someone there will betray him. Rather than featuring the more common portrayals of Judas as malevolent, halo-less, and/or segregated from the group at the far end of the table, Dengerink Chaplin has chosen works that show him integrated and indistinct, one of twelve betrayers, whose treachery, she boldly proposes, we might construe as “a happy fault.”

  • Ofili, Chris_The Upper Room
  • Duccio_Last Supper
  • Ofili, Chris_Iscariot Blues

With the Duccio panel, she points out something I’ve often contemplated as well: that Jesus feeds Judas with the element he calls his body, keeps communion with him, and is there not a preemptive forgiveness implicit in that act?


SONG: “In the Night” by Andrew Peterson: At a Laity Lodge retreat in 2015, Andrew Peterson of Nashville performed one of the songs from his album Counting Stars (2010) with fellow musicians Buddy Greene, Jeff Taylor, and Andy Gullahorn. “In the Night” rehearses “dark night” stories from scripture: Israel wrestles with God, is enslaved by Egypt, is pressed in by Syria; a prodigal son must resort to eating pig slop; the Son of Man is beaten and killed. But in each of these stories, deliverance comes. Hence the refrain: “In the night, my hope lives on.”


VISUAL MEDITATION: On The Holy Women at the Tomb by George Minne, commentary by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker: Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker, the creator of ArtWay, writes about a nineteenth-century bronze sculpture by the Belgian artist George Minne, which shows the three women who went to Jesus’s tomb on Easter morning in an attitude of grief—bent backs, bowed heads—drawing on the gothic pleurants, or weepers, of late medieval tombs. The women are “totally enwrapped in mourning their beloved,” Hengelaar-Rookmaaker writes. “This is in fact the very last moment of the passion, the last moment of suffering past the Pietà and the burial of Christ. It will only be a minute before their hoods will come off and the news of the resurrection will enter their numbed minds.”

Minne, George_The Holy Women at the Tomb
George Minne (Belgian, 1866–1941), Les saintes femmes au tombeau (The Holy Women at the Tomb), 1896. Bronze, 44.5 × 62 × 20.5 cm. Groeningemuseum, Bruges, Belgium.

This composition by Minne also exists in granite, wood, and plaster versions.


NEW PLAYLIST: April 2023 (Art & Theology): Includes an excerpt from the psychedelic rock–style Mass in F Minor by the Electric Prunes, “The Outlaw” by Jesus Movement icon Larry Norman, a chuckle-inducing bluegrass song first recorded in 1926 by Gid Tanner and Faith Norris and covered here by the Local Honeys, a choral setting of Psalm 128 (“Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways . . .”) by the Italian Jewish Renaissance composer Salomone Rossi, Whitney Houston’s rendition of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” and a short Kiowa Apache church song that translates to “Son of our Father will set up a cedar tree / Now he is calling to us / He’s going to heal our minds / That’s why he is calling to us.”

Roundup: Musical Passions beyond Bach; Angola inmates enact the Passion; and more

VIDEO: “Waiting with Christ: An Artful Meditation for Holy Week”: A collaboration between Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts in Durham, North Carolina, and City Church in Cleveland, Ohio, this half-hour video from 2021 presents a small collection of scripture readings, poems, visual art, and music for Holy Week, interspersed with reflections by theologian Jeremy Begbie. The artistic selections are a spoken word performance by Paul Turner, Malcolm Guite’s sonnet “Jesus Meets His Mother,” the Adagio movement of Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, the painting Riven Tree by Bruce Herman, and Bifrost Arts’ “Our Song in the Night,” performed by Salina Turner, Allison Negus, and Joel Negus [previously].


ARTICLE: “6 Musical ‘Passions’ Beyond Bach” by Josh Rodriguez: Composer, professor, and Deus Ex Musica cofounder Josh Rodriguez is an excellent classical music curator and guide. In this article he introduces us to six modern large-scale musical works about Jesus’s final week: The Passion of Yeshua by Richard Danielpour, La Pasión Según San Marcos by Osvaldo Golijov, The Passion of the Christ Symphony by John Debney, Johannes-Passion by Sofia Gubaidulina, Simeron by Ivan Moody, and the St. John Passion by James MacMillan. He interweaves composer biography, musical analysis, and meaning in concise ways, with nods to music history. Stylistic influences for these diverse selections range from Byzantine chant to salsa! Audio/video excerpts are provided, such as the cued-up “¿Por qué?” from Golijov’s Pasión (see below), a movement centering on the woman who anointed Jesus’s feet with perfume (Mark 14:3–9).


PRINT SERIES: The Passion and Its Objects (after Dürer) by Marcus Rees Roberts:The Passion and Its Objects (after Dürer) is a series of etchings and monotypes by Marcus Rees Roberts. The images derive from fragments from Albrecht Dürer’s series of woodcuts The Small Passion (1511). Images of the Passion – and of the crucifixion in particular – are so embedded in Western consciousness that we forget that it is a depiction of betrayal, prejudice, and torture. In this version of the Passion by Dürer, one of several he made, small, everyday objects lie scattered within the images – a jug, pliers, a hammer, a coil of rope. Even five hundred years later, we recognise these objects as our own; we can identify with them. But in so doing, we enter the depicted space, and we become complicit in the cruelty. This is one reason why Dürer’s Small Passion is both so powerful and so uncomfortable.”

Roberts, Marcus Rees_Passion I
Marcus Rees Roberts (British, 1951–), The Passion and Its Objects (after Dürer) I, 2019. Diptych etching and aquatint with chine collé printed on Somerset Satin soft white 300gsm, each plate 29.5 × 21 cm (overall 29.5 × 42 cm). Edition of 15.


PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES: Passion Play by Deborah Luster: “There are more than 5,300 inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Nearly 4,000 of them are serving life without parole. In 2012 and 2013 the Angola Prison Drama Club staged a play unlike any other in the prison’s experience. The Life of Jesus Christ featured 70 inmates, men and women acting together for the first time—in costume, with a real camel, performing for the general public. For the untrained actors, this production held special meaning as they saw pieces of their own lives revealed in the characters they played.”

Luster, Deborah_Layla "Roach" Roberts (Inquisitor)
Layla “Roach” Roberts (Inquisitor), sentenced to LIFE, Angola Prison, Louisiana. Photograph by Deborah Luster, from the Passion Play series, 2013.

Luster, Deborah_Bobby Wallace (Jesus)
Bobby Wallace (Jesus), Angola Prison, Louisiana. Photograph by Deborah Luster, from the Passion Play series, 2013.



>> “May I Go with You” by January Lim: This Maundy Thursday song was written in 2020 in the voice of Jesus in Gethsemane, speaking to God the Father. In the first stanza, it seems to me that Jesus is asking to be taken up to heaven, like Elijah—just whisked away back to glory, and spared tomorrow’s cruelties and pain. But in the second stanza that same request seems to shift in meaning as Jesus expresses a desire to go with God’s plan and asks for the strength to follow through. The song was released on the EP Gathered Sighs (2021), put out by Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, where Lim serves as worship arts pastor. [HT: Global Christian Worship]

>> “Calvary” (Traditional): In this excerpt from Washington National Cathedral’s 2020 Good Friday noon service, Imani-Grace Cooper performs Richard Smallwood’s arrangement of the African American spiritual “Calvary,” accompanied on piano by Victor Simonson. Wow. Chilling!

See also Imani-Grace’s performance of “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris and “Were You There” from the same service, which I queued up at those time-stamped links.

Spy Wednesday: Fear

When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” . . .

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

—Matthew 26:1–5, 14–16

It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest [Jesus] by stealth and kill him, for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.” . . .

Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

—Mark 14:1–2, 10–11

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put [Jesus] to death, for they feared the people.

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

—Luke 22:1–5

Holy Wednesday is commonly referred to as Spy Wednesday, as it’s the day Judas negotiated with the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council) to betray Jesus. The religious leaders had been had been plotting to get rid of Jesus since the beginning of his ministry, really; for example, Mark the Evangelist notes that after Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, “the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him” (Mark 3:6). They didn’t like Jesus’s interpretations of God’s law. And they certainly didn’t like his claiming to be the Son of God—blasphemy.

Their plotting kicks into high gear this week, when they get an insider from Jesus’s traveling band to surreptitiously report on his activity and whereabouts, which will enable them to swoop in for an arrest.

LOOK: Maynard Dixon (American, 1875–1946), Shapes of Fear, 1930–32. Oil on canvas, 40 × 501⁄8 in. (101.5 × 127.3 cm). Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. [object record]

Dixon, Maynard_Shapes of Fear

In this painting by Maynard Dixon, four shadowy figures, cloaked and hooded, stand on a mound of earth. They move clandestinely, at dusk, it appears. One of them faces us directly, but his face is missing, evoking a sense of menace.   

I first encountered Shapes of Fear at one of my local museums a few years ago and was transfixed by it. There was no description to contextualize the scene.

I am reminded of the chief priests, scribes, and elders, who acted stealthily to see that this Jesus fellow, so-called Son of God, was done away with. Fear was a big motivator for them. Fear of losing their power, of God’s truth being corrupted, of a changing status quo, of confronting their own hypocrisy. Mark 11:18 states it outright: “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it [Jesus’s rebuke of the money-changers in the temple] and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching” (emphasis added).

Some churches hold a Tenebrae (Latin for “shadows” or “darkness”) service on Spy Wednesday, which involves a gradual extinguishing of candles along with readings from the passion narratives.

LISTEN: “The Hour” by Joseph Tawadros, on The Hour of Separation (2010)

Egyptian Australian musician Joseph Tawadros [previously] is one of the world’s leading oud (fretless lute) players and is credited with expanding the instrument’s notoriety in mainstream Western culture. In this piece he performs alongside his percussionist brother, James Tawadros; drummer Jack DeJohnette; guitarist John Abercrombie; and bassist John Patitucci. The latter three are jazz heavyweights from New York.

Several times in the Gospels, Jesus refers forebodingly to “the hour” in which he will be captured, tortured, and killed. After his triumphal entry into Jerusalem he tells the crowds that followed him that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23), and he goes on to talk parabolically about his death. In his Farewell Discourse, he tells his disciples that “behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone” (John 16:32). And a few beats later, in John 17:1, Jesus “lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you . . .’”

In the parallel account of Gethsemane in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus prays that “the hour might pass from him” (Mark 14:35), and when God declines the request, Jesus concedes that “the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Mark 14:41).

For more songs for Holy Week, see the Art & Theology Holy Week Playlist.

Holy Wednesday (Artful Devotion)

Ratgeb, Jorg_Last Supper (detail)
Attributed to Jörg Ratgeb (German, ca. 1480–1526), The Last Supper (detail), 1505–10. Oil on panel, 38 7/10 × 36 in. (98.5 × 91.5 cm). Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
But you, O LORD, be gracious to me,
and raise me up . . .

—Psalm 41:9–10

“. . . the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. . . .”

After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.

Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.

So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

—John 13:18b–19, 21–30


SONG: “Judas Song (Psalm 41​:​9​–10)” by Matt Grimsley (words adapted from the Trinity Psalter) | Performed by the Green Carpet Players, on Morning to Evening (2014)


ORCHESTRAL REPRISE: “Judas Song, Pt. 2: The Betrayer” by Amy Porter, based on a melody by Matt Grimsley | Performed by the Green Carpet Players, on Morning to Evening (2014)


The Green Carpet Players is the recording alias of the musicians of Redeemer Church of Knoxville. Since they released this second album in 2014, chief musician Matt Grimsley, who wrote “Judas Song,” has become the founding pastor of Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin, and Amy Porter is now worship director at Church of the Redeemer in Maryville, Tennessee.


Ratgeb, Jorg_Last Supper
Attributed to Jörg Ratgeb (German, ca. 1480–1526), The Last Supper, 1505–10. Oil on panel, 38 7/10 × 36 in. (98.5 × 91.5 cm). Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

In Jörg Ratgeb’s Last Supper, the disciples have laid aside their pilgrim’s staffs and have sat down to a Passover meal of roast lamb, bread, and wine. Jesus, having just announced that one of them would betray him, looks across the table at Judas, the group’s treasurer—who wears not one but two purses! Jesus tenderly and regretfully feeds Judas an unleavened wafer, indicating that he’s the one. The others seem not to notice—groups of two discuss among themselves who the traitor might be; one disciple guzzles down more wine from a tubed bottle, while another pours more from a jug; John’s asleep to Christ’s left, and to his right Peter stares blankly into space, knife in hand (foreshadowing his cutting off the ear of one of Jesus’s arresters later that night); and one crass disciple turns his head to shoot snot out his nose.

Jesus has just washed all their feet, as indicated by the water basin and towel in the foreground—a stunning act of humility. (We will visit that episode in tomorrow’s Gospel reading.) His supremest act of humility is but a day away. It’s alluded to by the poster at the left of a snake lifted up on a staff (see John 3:14–15), as well as by the monstrance (a receptacle for the consecrated Eucharistic host) that two angels raise above Jesus’s head, proclaiming his impending sacrifice.

The sweet, generative nature of this sacrifice is underscored by the lily-of-the-valley that’s strewn all over the floor and table, as the flower is connected with the advent of spring and the promise of new life.

This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Wednesday of Holy Week, cycle A, click here.

Holy Monday (Artful Devotion)

Supper at Bethany (Vaux Passional)
Illumination from the Vaux Passional, England, ca. 1503–4. Peniarth MS 482D, fol. 15v, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. [see full page]

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone; she intended to keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

—John 12:1–11


SONG: “Said Judas to Mary” by Sydney Carter, 1964 | Performed by ValLimar Jansen and the choir of Christ the King Church, Kingston, Rhode Island, 2015

View the lyrics and sheet music at www.hopepublishing.com.

This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Monday of Holy Week, cycle A, click here.

Betrayal danced out

The following dance, choreographed by Travis Wall, premiered August 4, 2010, on So You Think You Can Dance. It is performed by season 7 runner-up Kent Boyd and season 3’s Neil Haskell to DeVotchKa’s “How It Ends.”

I’ve never personally experienced a betrayal of this magnitude, so when I watch the dance, I think of that supremely infamous act of disloyalty recorded in scripture: Judas’s handing over his friend Jesus to the religious authorities in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.

The two men in Wall’s piece start out as buddies—they provide support for each other, and catch the other when he’s on his way down. But then one of them stabs the other in the back. Confusion, hurt, and anger ensue; pleas for restoration are made, and the two briefly rehearse their nostalgia for what used to be. But the betrayer will not relent: he proceeds to crush his former friend underfoot. In one last effort to repair the broken friendship, the betrayed one chases down and clutches his friend but ultimately realizes he has to release him, for he has chosen his path. The end of the dance shows the betrayer remorseful in the shadows as his victim moves on toward his own separate destiny.   Continue reading “Betrayal danced out”