It’s Easter; the center of the Christian faith. We are all to be thankful and worshipful for “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16] What more can be said? I know I have nothing more to add that theologians and the Gospels have not already said. So instead, I want to talk about the person I think is the second most important person in Christ’s death and resurrection:
Very little is known about Judas and so it is very difficult, if not impossible, to derive any conclusions about him based on his life previous to being chosen as one of Christ’s disciples. We know he was the only non-Galilean disciple (possibly from the town of Kerioth) but we don’t even know his original profession. Beyond these two things we only know what is written of him in the Gospels: in addition to being Jesus’ betrayer Judas is described as a thief [John 12:6] and Jesus Himself called him a “devil.” [John 6:70,71]
In two passages it is written that Satan entered into Judas and drove Judas to betray Jesus. [Luke 22:3, John 13:27] Why was Satan able to take hold of Judas?
Scholars and theologians have argued over Judas’ reason(s) for betraying Jesus since the day it happened. If we accept that Satan did indeed enter into Judas then the answer is obvious. But, what if Judas was actually responding in some way to his own human weaknesses: doubt, fear, questioning, lack of understanding, lack of faith and other human traits? Even Thomas doubted. What then would drive Judas’ betrayal? For me it all comes down to this: Judas never really ‘knew’ Jesus. I don’t mean things like Jesus was a carpenter, was born in Bethlehem, had brothers and sisters; the esoteric things. I mean that Jesus came to fulfill scripture and was the Messiah as well as the Savior of all; God’s plan “things.” In this, one of the lessons of Judas’ life: we must get to truly know Jesus, recognize who He was and what He’s doing, accept Him into our lives, and live His teachings.
I also think there is another important lesson to learn from Judas.
I think we can all agree that Judas’ biggest mistake, and history’s biggest mistake as well, was the betrayal of Jesus Christ. I think though, that we can also learn a truly important lesson from what I consider to be Judas’ second biggest mistake: he turned from God and committed suicide. [Matthew 27:5] What should he have done instead?
Judas should have turned back to God!
In 1 John 1:9 we are told that if we confess our sins we will be forgiven. There are no exclusions (beyond the two unforgivable sins). It does not say everyone except Jesus’ betrayer. I know that Jesus said, “…woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” [Matthew 26:24] To me, Jesus’ words imply that He knew Judas really didn’t know Him or said another way, Judas didn’t believe in Him and was foretelling Judas’ eternity as recorded in Mark 16:16b, “…whoever does not believe will be condemned.” I wonder what Jesus would have said if He’d instead known that Judas would have accepted Him for who He truly was, repented and confessed his sin, and sought forgiveness. Jesus told us, “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter.” [Mark 3:28] Maybe I’m being naive in thinking that had Judas, even in that last hour, come to accept and believe, repented, confessed, and sincerely sought forgiveness it would have been granted. I want to believe it. Why? Because I am a sinner daily.
Aren’t we all a little like Judas: struggling in our faith, running from our sins, refusing to confess and seek forgiveness and so dying a little bit each time by our own hands?
It’s Easter and a time for reminders. Maybe we’re supposed to also see the human parts of ourselves in Judas and in so doing, appreciate even more the sacrifice made on our behalf.
I wish you all a truly Holy, Happy and Healthy Easter. God bless.
I’d like to say a special thank you to my wife. When she responded to my idea around this week’s writing she sent a lot of very interesting information about suicide and the Bible. Buried in all of that was information that I needed in order to get my thoughts in this writing tied together into one coherent presentation. So, without even knowing that I was struggling with finding some Bible information, she sent it along. Thank you my love and thank you God for speaking to me through her.