Judas was not a traitor. Let that sink in. Judah was not a traitor. In fact, he may have been the most audaciously faithful disciple in Jesus’ chosen Twelve.
We spent a great deal of time during the semester discussing the idea that the Twelve hadn’t ever fully understood Christ’s mission before His death. That appeared to be true for all of the Twelve. Indeed, it would seem such was truefor many of the Jews.
If we operate under the assumption that the Jews (by which we mean the leading class) were obsessed with independence from Rome, we begin to see a lot of the New Testament differently. I think we are accustomed to this assumption, but that we only selectively apply it to where it conveniently helps us conclude what we already believe.
Coincidentally, this same concept of application to achiever preconditioned beliefs affected the Jews. There is evidence to suggest that none of the Apostles really understood Jesus’ mission. Perhaps the most poignant example is in the immediate aftermath of Christ’s resurrection on the Road to Emmaus. Cleopas, traveling with Peter and a disguised Jesus, tells the stranger of
Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel:
The subtext is clear: How can Christ redeem Israel if he is dead? Who is to free Israel from Roman captivity?
Judas fell victim to this same misunderstanding. But Judas’ sin wasn’t betraying the Son of God. It was trying to force the will of God. You see, Judas was trying to kick off the revolution. I believe that Judas thought that if Jesus were delivered to the ruling class, he would be forced to reveal himself as the Messiah.
Judas’ betrayal was not an act of treachery. It was an act of faith. It was misplaced faith, but faith nonetheless.
And I reject the notion that Judas killed himself because he had given himself to Satan. Judas was grief stricken. He had just sent the man he loved and esteemed the Messiah to his death. His entire faith structure had been shattered. We might be wise to withhold our judgment.
But it’s easy to judge. The other Apostles certainly did. They pretty well threw him under the bus.
I just wish Judas had held out another week. I suspect we would have seen an amazing outpouring of mercy if he had made it to see the resurrected Christ. I think we would have learned that Judas’ revolution was a smashing success.