Judas Iscariot Redux

About Judas, perhaps it has been a big misunderstanding. One argument seems to hinge on one word: “betray”. It would seem that what was actually written was “hand over”, or even “deliver”, which are not quite as wickedly charged. There are several theories about his innocence that are scripturally based, but really, if you want to see that Judas was ultimately innocent, you must hold that part of the Bible is, in fact, wrong. Especially the Gospel According to John, the last one to be written, decades after the Lord had ever graced the Earth. One clue that Judas may not have been, in fact, on the wrong side, is when the Lord proclaimed he would be turned over, they did not all go, “No, not ever!” but instead, “Is it I?” So maybe there are mixed messages coming from the Gospels.

I once had a conversation with my neighbor, who is a pastor and who wrote a book about the Bible, whether Judas could have been innocent. He only went as far as Judas being likened to Pharoah (of Moses fame), whom God hardened his heart so that His glory could be revealed. To my neighbor, the Bible is the final word on all things. Which, in fact, cannot be the case, not as we live today. If you say to a believer about the parts that contradict other parts, they will come back with something about putting it in context. And that is what most people who would read the Bible will most undoubtedly lack: the proper context.

If instead, they were to say that the book is so holy that whatever interpretation you use, it will do the right thing for you, one could just as easily posit that it contains human error, but God (who is the root of holiness) will put those errors to work to His purpose. And, if you believe you think it has special meaning even placed into the context of the modern day, that’s basically what you’re saying. So here’s a question: if it took divine revelation to write the Bible, does it take divine revelation to read it, too? We seem to be going around that corner. But that seems a very sparse offering, what it seems has been given this world. We only have opinions, n’est-ce pas?

Bible advocates fear to say that there is anything in error within the entirety of the volume (or two volumes, or sixty-six or so volumes). If one part is wrong, does the whole thing come crashing down like a house of cards? I’d like to think that the works sanctioned by God to be more resilient than that. My opinion, then: the Bible was made by human beings, capable of error in whatever they attempted. The Bible is holy, again in my opinion, because it contains the two most important names of God: God is the I AM, and God is love. Therefore it is profitable to seek holy wisdom from those pages.

If all your faith relies on the Bible being without error, my words will not penetrate enough to change your mind, correct? Yet it is spiritual baby food to have faith in that. If you want to try the solid offerings, try accepting that errors did get into that book. Believe instead that it is instead that Jesus Christ is what does not err. For he was more than human: he was God. And see if it is true, that if you chop open a piece of wood, he will be there. See if you have accepted the Holy Sprit, and so the Lord is in your heart. Even then, your heart will err, but he will make something of all that you do and feel, even the sins. Let divine inspiration in, and you may understand clearly.

Do not expect to understand all the Bible lays out, or even why some things happen in those pages. And do not think that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. God deserves better. 1) We do not understand at least parts of the Bible. 2) The proper context for understanding some parts are a matter of history, which includes a lot of things which are debatable. 3) And once again, if you think it is applicable to today, you are putting it into a new context, and you, who do this (as Bible thumpers will quickly opine themselves), are a fallible creature, prone to error. So we come back to needing the Holy Spirit guide you to the proper meaning, especially as it might apply today.

What about holy men and women of today? Can we not rely on their interpretations? Prophets these day are mostly false, unfortunately (has it ever been different?). If they seek after money or power, then you will know them to be false. And almost all of the rest of them are just crazy. That’s the sort of situation we find ourselves in. Try instead to light your own candle to find your way. Not to say we shouldn’t research things ourselves. This is to say to research even what other people say, not just what you may understand of it.

So, what does this have to do with Judas? Perhaps I’ll give them this inch, the infallibility of the Bible folks: everything in the holy book (or books) serves a higher purpose, even the mistakes. Yeah, that’s not even an inch, I guess, maybe half an inch. For I have come to believe that the part where the Bible calls Judas Iscariot a son of perdition—that this is in error. Or that he was a devil. I believe Christ never said such things, and I even believe that Judas comes before Peter in the ranking of saints.

I’m not the first to think this, though maybe the most extreme in doing so, putting him before Peter, but there it is. Look at the case of Mary Magdalene: she was put in the light as a prostitute by the powers that be (a Pope, in the line of St. Peter), though she never was such a thing. But the unintended consequence was that she became the de facto patron saint of all prostitute. See? God sometimes works with the error. And I’m sure Ms. Magdalene would rather it had gone this way. Why are we bothering ourselves with trivialities, when the task at hand is to save a soul?

With that in mind, let it end like so: there was a purpose in the Bible including the error of Judas Iscariot. As some faithful will tell, there is evidence—some very well reasoned—that he betrayed his master and friend. In first, believing the Bible as divinely inspired by God, can our faith grow large enough to thing that that Word can be trumped by the Logos that is Christ? Another term for Logos might be called, Holy Reason. Can we pray to be able to see the truth, and then can we stand up for that truth? For the clues of Judas’ innocent are there, to be put together. This is the next level. And to those who are worried about what is from God, and what is the deception of the Devil, is it full of compassion and forgiveness? Or is it all judgment and damnation? Just saying.



3 thoughts on “Judas Iscariot Redux”

  1. For many, Peter was the first and greatest of the apostles; Judas was the last and least. Few have received the teaching of Jesus on this subject as applicable here. There is a way of the many; there is a way of the few.

    Judas did not go astray under the watch of the Good Shepherd, but he went astray before he was chosen to be numbered as one of the twelve. The son of man came to save that which was lost, but it was the will of his Father that he raise him up again at the last day, the day which he began by washing the heel lifted up against him. That is how Jesus cast out the prince of this world. Then Jesus put it into his heart to deliver him, to eat bread with him. His bread? . . . to finish his Father’s work. Why Judas? To fulfill the scripture . . . “He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.”
    When Satan entered Judas again, it was to remove from his heart what Jesus had just put there. Judas then overcame Satan. Jesus lay down his life with power. He was greater than the one he sent. He was greater than his servant, who delivered (not betrayed) him with a kiss.

    After seeing Jesus condemned, Judas regretted lifting up his heel against him (making the covenant to deliver him), the act for which Jesus chose him to deliver him. He did not, however, go and hang himself after he returned the silver, but he departed “choked up” with grief, the figurative meaning of the Greek word, “apanchomai.”

    The destruction to which Jesus referred in the epithet, son of perdition, was the destruction of the temple of his (Jesus’) body. Judas was born anew as a consequence of his witnessing that destruction. That destruction was the work of God, the Passion. The son of perdition is a son of God.

    Peter was rebuked specifically for his attitude of opposition to those things of God which Jesus said must happen at Jerusalem. When time came for those things to happen, however, it was Judas who acted to initiate them, while Peter, despite the rebuke of Jesus, still opposed them and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. Just as Jesus taught, the first became last, and the last first. Nevertheless, for reasons yet to be disclosed, Jesus built his church upon the rock-headedness of Peter.

    I say these things, however, only in my own name.

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