In Defense of Judas Iscariot

For years, as a Catholic school student, I was taught that the man who betrayed Jesus to the chief priests and elders in Garden of Gethsemane was a traitor. I don ‘t believe it is the churches fault that this is what I eventually learned. I think that it is what I heard and as a child it is what I took to heart.

It’s been years since I took first communion, was confirmed, or have asked a priest to hear my confession. I
know now that I can speak to Jesus directly. I can tell him my trespasses and be forgiven without having to make an act of contrition.

Please do not think that I am putting down the Catholic faith, because I am not. How a person comes to know Jesus is between that individual and Jesus. All I ask is that individual remain open-minded and open-hearted enough to receive new lessons in their walk of faith .

During my years following my first communion, I studied towards my confirmation. This is where a child passes into young adulthood within the tenants of the faith . We were asked to think quietly for about 15 minutes about a saint or an apostle that we would like to have represented us as our confirmation guide . (I must politely submit that some of this has been lost on me through the years.) I requested the apostle Judas Iscariot.

This shocked the priests, as they had never heard of such a thing.

They told me that I could not take Judas as a confirmation guide as he had hanged himself after betraying Jesus. I tried to argue the point that Jesus was a forgiving God and knew all along that Judas would betray him and selected him as one of the original disciples anyway.

I further pointed out what John 13:27 says, ‘…and after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”’

Finally when I added that Jesus called Judas ‘friend’ even after the kiss in the garden, the brothers of the order lost all sense of themselves and shouted me down .

In the end they won the battle and I was forced to select another saint or apostle, though for the life of me I cannot recall who it might be as Judas Iscariot has remained on my mind all these years later. The Padres at Saint Joe ‘s Catholic Reform School failed to win the war .

The Lord that I pray too every morning and every night, whose word I read so that I can maintain it in my heart in times of weakness and trouble and in happiness and joy is a forgiving God. Therefore I believe whole-heartily that
Jesus forgave Judas Iscariot even though he was weak and hanged himself.

Not only do I have the arguments that used to attempt to persuade the priests with, but I also have a glimpse of Judas• remorse and a timeline of events leading up to his death and then Jesus’ death .

Let’s look first at the mind of Judas as the gospels show us . Once he discovered that his act of betrayal had led Jesus to be condemned to death he felt so terrible that he tried to return the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests. {Matthew 27:3)

Unfortunately the chief priests not only failed to see Jesus as the Messiah, they failed to help Judas when he admitted that he had sinned by handing over an innocent man for trial. The chief priests told Judas that it was his responsibility. (Matthew 27:4)

Judas responded by throwing the 30 silver pieces into the temple and left. (Matthew 27:5) Perhaps Judas, who had witnessed many of Jesus’ miraculous works, was trying to force Jesus to lead a revolt against the Roman Empire.

However did not work. With nowhere to go and no one to turn too and a complete lost of faith, Judas Iscariot hanged himself. And so we are left to assume that he burns in a fiery Hell forever.

Yet if one should take a look at the time line there is more to look at than the simple events. The idea that Judas Iscariot died prior to the living Christ weighs heavily into the picture from a theological point. (Matthew 27:5)

Christ died for the trespasses of the world. That means he died for Judas’ trespasses as well. Therefore, Judas is in heaven with our Lord, Jesus Christ .

Yet , there is that point about Judas Iscariot having committed suicide. My grandfather used to say that, “People think that like a coin the truth has two sides, not so because a coin has a ridged edge and you have to look there too for the truth.”

It has taken me years to understand many of the things he used to say. He was telling me to check everything before making a final conclusion .

To this day I have not stopped examining and I keep discovering biblical nuggets of truths. Between A. D. 63 and 70 , a Gentile Physician named Luke wrote a letter to Theophilus about the death of Judas Iscariot.

He writes, ‘With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.• (Acts 1:18)

As Judas hanged himself, the branch he selected did not hold his weight , broke and he fell. So much for suicide.

Lastly, I believe that Judas Iscariot is the unsung anti­ hero of the New Testament. It is easy to over look the fact that Jesus chose this man to be one of his 12 disciples.

But we are always reminded that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus every time .we partake of communion. What has become real easy to forget is that all the Apostles abandoned Jesus .

And like Judas, they all misunderstood Jesus’ mission. They thought he was there to over thrown Rome, when he was there to save the man from sin.

If it was no t f or his courage to step away from the table and go to the chief priests and elders in the first place
we may all. still be waiting for the first coming of Christ. Jesus knew what was to happen, not only to himself but what was going. to happen to Judas.

I think Jesus; my Savior had it in his heart to save Judas Iscariot as well. The one thing we will never know until we stand before our creator is whether or not there was a request for forgiveness or not prior to Judas 1 death.

As a Christian, I do not condemn or judge him. I hate the sin but love the sinner.

Of course, I am still not certain that Judas Iscariot would not have been a suitable guide for my confirmation . Perhaps I needed more instruction that ‘pick a saint or an apostle.’

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