If you’re wondering what the name Iskariot means, don’t worry, I Googled it. It means “from Kariot.” You’re welcome.
Kariot is a city south of Jerusalem and is likely where Judas is from. It’s a town mentioned elsewhere in the scriptures, but not in a good way. The Prophet Amos says, “Thus sayeth the Lord, I will send a fire on Moab, and it shall devour the strongholds of Keriot, they shall die amid uproar, amid shouting and the sound of the trumpet.” The prophet Jeremiah says “Look, the Lord shall swoop down like an eagle against Moab, and Kariot shall be taken because they magnified themselves against the Lord.”
Though it may offend our Gentle Jesus sensibilities, this is a major theme throughout the scriptures, that the Lord cannot abide unfaithfulness, sin, denial, betrayal, lawlessness. The prophets warn of the wrath of God, that it shall be poured out on the twelve tribes of Israel and the nations. Judgment and impending doom shall rain down on their heads like hot coals.
And, though we often assume otherwise, this is not just the message of the Old Testament. In the gospel of Luke particularly, Jesus comes sounding like an Old Testament prophet announcing that these scriptures, including the wrath of God, are to be fulfilled here, now, in him.
That’s why he has assembled them tonight, all twelve of them. The time has come. The kingdom of God is at hand. The time of suffering is upon them.
Judas has already had his mind set on betrayal, Peter is unknowingly destined for denial. Then, in case we were wondering if there were any righteous among them, half of them start debating about who is the greatest, and when Jesus reminds them of his no-swords policy, the other half says, “you mean these?”
“That is enough” he says. “For it is written, ‘He was counted among transgressors, among the lawless.’ Indeed, what was written is being fulfilled.”
The scene is set. He’s definitely among the lawless, the unrighteous, the citizens of Kariot, the fallen tribes of Israel. Next comes the flame, and coal, and wrath, right?
But here’s the thing. That last prophecy Jesus mentioned about being counted among the lawless? That isn’t from Amos or Jeremiah. In fact it isn’t from a prophecy of doom. It’s from Isaiah, and it’s a prophecy of hope, one that Luke refers to more often in these last few chapters than any other gospel writer.
He was despised and rejected by others;Isaiah 53, paraphrase
a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one whom others deny
he was despised, and we held him of no account.
He has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
He was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
The Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his wounds we are healed.
The scene is set, the twelve are assembled, all of them lawless enemies of God. To fulfill the scriptures would have been to destroy them. But that is not the scripture the Lord chooses to fulfill this night.
Instead, where they could have received wrath, they get wine. Where they could have received hot coals, they get bread. When he could have given them what the Bible says they have coming to them, instead they get him.
“This is my body, given for you. This is my blood poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of your sin.”
Later, because of this night, St. Paul will instruct the church that when our enemy is hungry, we should feed them; for while we were yet enemies of the Lord, he fed us, and took upon himself the wounds that have made us whole.