I read an interesting article on CNN the other day by Craig Gross. For those who aren't familiar with Craig, he's a pastor and founder of xxxchurch.com, which helps fight porn addiction. The article he wrote was entitled "Is Judas In Hell?" , and you can read it here: http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/living/judas-hell-jesus/index.html.
In a nutshell, he acknowledges that Judas made a big, big mistake. As did Thomas. But, he skates the question for a larger dialog about what is important to focus on this Easter, which is that "we all fall short and deserve death....", and of course JESUS! Now, I can't leave the main question alone because I think the wrong question is being asked. I differ with Craig's article in that he seems to be agreeing with the rest of Christendom that Judas made a huge mistake. We need to decide if Judas actually did something wrong.
Is Judas a sinner, saint, or catalyst?
It seems to me, from a mythological stand point, that Judas' actions were necessary for Christ to ultimately intercede on man's behalf. Up until Jesus' execution, the ministry was struggling. Sure, there was a following. Many had started to become interested in Christ's ministry of eternal reward, compassion, and forgiveness, but it wasn't gaining much political momentum.
The Sadducee were crawling up Rome's ass more and more every year. The Pharisees didn't think the inflexible interpretation of the religious laws, and subsequent application, were fair. There was an ever growing rift between the two political factions, and Rome sat back and took advantage. Meanwhile, Christ is inspiring hope, but he has to be careful where he is performing at. How many times have we read him getting scrutinized by the clerics? Too many to count!
This prophet didn't pick the outskirts of villages because he needed a large venue. He didn't go blend in with the Egyptians because he liked the food. No, he didn't have a strong enough momentum to influence the political war that was brewing within Jerusalem. His meddling more of an annoyance, and borderline heretical. Christ had no teeth. He was another of many self proclaimed prophets of his time. So how do you propel yourself to the top of the dog pile in those days? Martyrdom. This is the classic go to plot twist of any good lore. Politics, drama, intrigue, and death.
Osiris was betrayed by his brother Seth.
Zeus was betrayed by his former comrade Prometheus.
Vibhishana was betrayed by his half brother Ravana.
Thor was betrayed by his brother Loki.
And Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas.
Without the needed climax, what would have happened to Jesus ministry? Would Jesus still have drawn the crowds on his own at age eighty? Or would miracles eventually be all he was remembered for? Jesus was not much more than another Simon of Peraea before Judas came along and stirred things up with the Sandhedrin and Rome. Granted, Jesus did cause some notable scenes at the temples, but he didn't burn them down. He certainly didn't want to lead an uprising. Jesus was a hands off kind of boss. He would give a great show and expected followers to somehow become cohesive and effect a social change among the different classes of Hebrews. Jesus sought unification, and to do that requires more than just creative interpretations of the same old message.
He knew this, and that is why he later made vague announcements about his death, not just at the Last Supper, but several times during the year prior. Check out Matthew 17 and Matthew 20. On top of it all, not all of his apostles were okay with his miracle working (walking on water scared some shitless). Not all were comfortable with his associating with the ill repudiated (whore and perfume). And not all were even sure he fit the description of the predicted Messiah (Judas' betrayal).
Jesus was a walking contradiction, and Judas was the key to the final sell.
But I'm not playing fair here. If I have to answer the question: "Is Judas in Heaven or Hell?" I would posit he is in Heaven. He certainly was remorseful, after all, he did try to return the silver. And he never blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Never do you see any sign Judas absolutely doesn't believe, in fact, his actions could be interpreted as out of his control seeing how as Jesus handed him the dipped bread, Satan entered Judas and then he went and betrayed him. Judas had a lot riding on this rabbi, and at this point of the biblical tale, Jesus has had to watch out for being arrested, thrown out of towns and so on. The man would not step up to the plate and really lead. John the Baptist wanted to lead, and Judas was originally following John, so his appetite was wet with change.
So, nothing Judas did was unforgivable. Only outright blaspheming the Holy Spirit gets you unforgivable doom. Judas didn't do that. Yes, he ratted out the hidden location of Jesus. Yes, he initially accepted blood money. Yes, he committed suicide, was stoned to death, or was crushed by a chariot (you decide which). His remorse is of little doubt though, in my opinion. And because of that, I would say Judas is in Heaven, if a location must be picked.
Whether his betrayal should be considered a sin or not truly means nothing. Without Judas and his classic story book behavior, Jesus would have faded into the annals of supposed history and be no more appreciated than all the other random philosophers of his time. Judas was certainly no sinner in my book. He made no mistakes in my view either. He made Jesus put up or shut up.
He was a catalyst.
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