We just finished watching Franco Zeffirelli's 1977 film "Jesus of Nazareth". We love this movie! We usually watch the entire movie during Lent and then we watch snippets of it at other times of the year. I'm not sure there is anybody that portrays Our Lord quite like Robert Powell.
Each time I see this movie, I feel a certain connection to Judas. I realize that he's the 'bad guy' in this situation...the guy that everybody loves to hate...the fall guy. So what is it that makes me feel so sorry for him? What is it that makes him so human, so typical, so pathetic?
Before I answer that, let me point out that I am NOT a theologian! I am not a priest (as if you didn't know)! I'm not a member of the clergy, religious or secular order of ANY kind. I don't hold any degree (unless you count an AA) and I'm NOT an apologist. I'm just a simple 46 year old, overweight wife and mother of 3 who wonders if there was room in heaven for Judas.
I know that there are people who will jump all over me for even the suggestion that Judas could be in heaven. I get that...he betrayed Christ! But so did Peter. We know that Peter repented. The movie depicts Judas as repentive (is that even a word?), although he fell into despair and ended his own life. It has been suggested that Judas could have chosen to repent and therefore save himself from eternal damnation.
In my heart of hearts, I feel fairly sure that Judas "understood" what he had done. I feel as though the unforgivable sin that Judas committed was not the betrayal of Jesus, but that he despaired so much that he felt he could not be forgiven....that even God Himself couldn't (or wouldn't) forgive him. To me, it just seems highly unlikely that Judas was not sorry for what he had done. It's hard to wrap my arms around the concept that his confession (as imperfect as it may have been) would not have been accepted.
I have had times in my life when I have felt unforgivable. I have had times when I know I have betrayed Jesus. During those times, it's as though I've held the nail while it was thrusted into His hands. Sometimes, I KNOW what I'm doing, thinking or saying is hammering those nails in....but I do it, think it or say it anyway. How can God possibly love me more than He loved Judas? How could Judas be destined from before time began to go to hell?
Here's a WILD question......Could the case be made that Judas assisted in our Salvation? If Judas had not turned Jesus in....would He have been arrested? Would He have been condemned to die? How would God have brought about the Salvation of the world without Judas?
The bottom line for me is that NONE of us can know for certain where Judas will spend eternity. We do not know what happened at the moment of death. We do not know if he truly repented. I just know that if there is room in heaven for me, there must be room for Judas.