Tuesday, April 19, 2011


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.


KathY said...

An extremely well-done and thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Nancy... My hat's off to you.

I believe Judas was repentant, according to both tradition and Scripture. And there is consequence to repentance...

I also believe that the more sinful one has been and repents, the more help he or she will be in heaven in their eternal role than those who don't have that wide chasm to navigate to salvation. They know more about evil and have greater cause to mourn and suffer their wrongdoing. And blessed are they who mourn.

History is full of formerly terribly sinful saints.

You raised an excellent point regarding the betrayal by Peter. And an excellent point about Judas being key to our salvation: someone had to fill that role and it was Judas.

While we're at it, I've wondered before about when Jesus revealed Judas as the betrayer by giving him a piece of bread, if that was something Jesus knew or something that He decided. Have you ever known that to be written about or discussed anywhere?

God bless you now and always, Nancy. You remain in my prayer, KathY

KathY said...

I'm still thinking... :)

That he took his own life doesn't clinch it either. There is more to the story we don't know and more that follows the story that we don't know - all of which is more pertinent to his salvation than what we know: his encounter with the Lord and his state at the time.

For our purposes the story is perhaps not so much an indictment as it is a challenge to see and love a sinner the way Jesus does.

Abbey said...

An excellent and thought-provoking post, Nancy. And, I found KathY's comments quite interesting as well. All in all, there are those things that make you go "hmmmm...", and then I resolve that all answers will be made known when each of us, God willing, makes our journey to Heaven. I have such a long list in my mind, a sort of "bucket list" of questions like "whatever happened [to/with] ....? I can't wait, for instance, to know what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa! No joke!

I feel sorry for Judas, but God's hand is in all things, and all of the events had to happen to achieve God's plan of sending His own son, in His image, to lead us all to salvation.

I do wonder if Jesus knew from birth what his destiny was to be. In watching "The Passion", I was able to feel so much more of what Jesus experienced. It was horrid, unbelievably inhumane. This coming from a woman who believes we should revert to public hangins and beheadings for murderers.

So complex ..... this life and world in which we live. I look forward to heaven, where I once feared death. I'm thankful that I have been moved to have faith in the promises made my our Savior. It is a much more peace-filled existence.


P.S. I LOVE your new background!

Frizzy said...

Oh Nancy. I absolutely love this post you've written and I have to agree with you. Jesus knew Judas would betray him and we are taught to forgive 70xs 7. Because of these things I can't imagine he would be sent to an eternity in hell. I believe his personal hell was knowing he betrayed his friend, Jesus. That alone would be hard to live with and yes, who of us that have sin does not assist in hammering that nail or pointing that finger? Thank you my dear!

Hmm Kathy's comment at the end leaves me much to think about self fulfilling profphecies. She's good like that isn't she!

noreen said...

Very interesting post Nancy. You're right that only Jesus knew what was truly in Judas' heart when he died. Judas did play a role in our salvation because one of his apostles had to betray for the scriptures to be fulfilled. Jesus knew it at the Last Supper what Judas would do as He knows what we all do and our motives for doing so. I agree, Judas may be in Heaven if he did repent.

Kathy made an interesting suggestion, did Jesus decide it would be Judas or He knew already who would betray him? I'm thinking that since God gave us free will, Judas chose his role and it wasn't instrumented by God. I'm not a theologian nor have I studied the gospels in great depth, it's just my humble opinion.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Colleen said...

I have often wondered myself. And then I hear so many homilists talk about how Judas did not repent but Peter did. And yet, do we really know if Judas repented or not? We don't.
The good news? Someday we will know everything.
Have a happy Easter.

Corinne said...

I feel sorry for Judas because people connect him to Lucifer, but the way i see it (and this is my personal opinion i dnt think im absolutely right) Judas was condemned from the start, just as Jesus was supposed to die on the cross, so Judas was supposed to betray Jesus. It was all part of Gods plan it had nothing to do with Lucifer. I think (if he isnt already) Judas should be in heaven, he fulfilled his part in the great scheme of things and for that he deserves redemption, i think we need to get over this stigma we have attached to judas and besides who are we humans to judge