Easter Reflections: Judas

No one will ever know, this side of heaven anyway, if Jesus knew all about Judas when he picked him to be his disciple. Was it pre-ordained that Judas would be the betrayer right from the start? Or did God use the unfolding weaknesses of a human character to fulfil his purposes?

Nor will we know just when and how Judas became so disillusioned with his master. He saw the miracles, the love and power and yet still chose turn his back on the man who showed him divine love.

Surely Judas had many redeeming qualities, or he wouldn’t have fitted into the group of twelve? He must have been able to see Jesus’ love for him throughout the three years they stayed together. So how did a man soaked in the love of God turn his back on God personified?

I don’t believe Judas was just a hapless pawn, used by God and abused by Satan. He had a choice to accept or deny God, as we all do. However it must have been helped, no doubt by the hatred of Satan, who schemed to get Jesus killed, so that the plan to save humanity would be thwarted. So with his demonic lies and whispers, Judas’ weak mind was corrupted and his reasoning and love were destroyed.

But we know now that Satan played right into God’s hands. It was crucial for Jesus to die on that cross to take our punishment, when he become the perfect sacrifice for our sins and to restore us into a right relationship with God.

So after three years living and working alongside his Master and friend, Judas set out on his path of betrayal and destruction. He sneaked away from the last supper to betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities, knowing that Jesus knew his plan and the betrayal in his heart. Even though he’d just felt the hands of Jesus washing away the grime of the day from his feet. The Lord of Lords had knelt before his turncoat disciple showing that even Judas was worthy of having his feet washed by the servant king. Then later he must have seen the love in Jesus eyes as they dipped their bread in the same bowl over supper.

To then leave the light and love of that upper room and go into the darkness to turn his Lord over to those religious bigots who hated this preacher from Galilee. Perhaps in some convoluted way Judas thought he was helping move Jesus’ cause along? We’ll never know what was in his mind- but God knew then and still loved him, despite it.

Over the next few hours Judas was to realise the cataclysmic depth of his mistake and regret it to such an extent that he could not live with himself. We’ll never know his last thoughts as he hung the rope around his neck. Where they repentance and sorrow or yet more hate and despair?

Yes, I do believe that the love of Jesus is so great, that if Judas did really repent and acknowledge his treason, even he was not beyond God’s grace. Even he might have been forgiven and welcomed into Paradise with the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus that awful ‘Good’ Friday.

One day we might discover the truth, until then perhaps we can all reflect on the depth and heights and vastness of God’s grace and mercy.

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