Thanks to James Carville’s, a political adviser to President Bill Clinton, analogy of Bill Richardson’s “betrayal” of Hillary Clinton in favor of Barak Obama’s Presidential campaign to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, Judas’s name has been in the spotlight as of late. I have heard many preachers and teachers teach on Judas, and almost unanimously they have said that Judas must be in Hell. But is this truly the case?
First, the known facts from the Gospel are three things. 1) Judas was one of the twelve disciples of Christ. 2) Judas received 30 pieces of silver in exchange for pointing Jesus out. 3) Judas committed suicide by hanging himself before the Resurrection.
Judas was a zealot, period. His how ideological mindset was running the Romans out of Jerusalem and Judea. The period in which Christ came to the world was a very apocalyptic time, and many saw the Romans as the final enemy of God and the sign of the end times. Therefore, it is safe to assume that Judas saw Christ as the Messiah, the one who would rid God’s Chosen People of the Romans, rid them of their persecutions, and bring the Jews to prominence in the world. In other words, The Kingdom of god was at hand, etc.
In the mind fo Judas, he would see Jesus as the conquering king, but unlike we view Christ today, this would have a very physical and present application. We all believe that Judas betrayed Christ because he thought that if he did, Christ would be forced to enact vengeance against the Romans, and Bring the Kingdom of god to rest on earth. Obviously, this is contrary to the current “understanding” of the Kingdom of God, but to the Jews at the time, the belief was that it was a very physical place that would be brought to earth. Also, the Jews regarded God as a God of interference. Either for or against them. God got angry, he judged the kingdoms of the world, and he did so in a very physical and destructive way. Clouded by this, Judas would not be able to fully understand that the true Kingdom of God was a kingdom of love, grace and mercy. True salvation was not brought about by destruction, but by sacrifice and love.
Concerning the betrayal, as mentioned before, he Judas would have viewed this as almost, in a way, necassary for the purposes of God. Of course, for Scripture to be fulfilled, it was, but at the same time, the question is raised, why would the Pharisees need Jesus to be identified? It is obvious, from the Gospels, that they new, not only his teachings and his miracles, but also who he was, and what he looked like. Also, it is also apparent from the Gospels that the only one of the thirteen – Christ and the twelve – with any air of confidence, was Christ. Was it Judas’s destiny to give Christ the kiss of betrayal? It obviously, for the sake of Scripture as well as Christ’s on statement that one would betray him, was at least the destiny of one of them. Many could argue that Peter’s denial could have served as this betrayal, but I find this highly unlikely, due to the Statement of Christ at the Last Supper.
Now, to my final point, and the crux of this article. Judas died before the resurrection of Christ. Why is this important? Simple, Judas would have entered the grave – i.e. the Bosom of Abraham, while Christ was still down there. Still, why is this important? Simple again, Judas would have had the chance to repent, and not only in prayer, but to Christ directly. Given this, it is possible to assume that he would have done so, and therefore, if he did, he would have received salvation.
I’m not saying that it is a fact that Judas is in Heaven, seated with Christ. But, I do believe it is unfair that we, as mere mortals, pass judgment of him and condemn him to Hell. Didn’t Christ say judge not, lest you be judged? I think He did, could be wrong. But on any account, let us pray that, as we should for all persons in history, the present, and the future, he found salvation and grace through the ministry and love of Christ. Many argue for the case of Plato – who, for those who don’t know, died before Christ was even born, that because he recognized monotheism, recognized a central truth and an ultimate good (which he called God), that it is possible that he found salvation, let us also keep open the possibility for Judas.