Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:6-16 (Gospel of Pre-Sanctified Liturgy on Holy Wednesday Morning) Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Good morning Prayer Team!
The “Passion” of Christ refers to His sufferings. The first act of the Passion was the betrayal by Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, one of His friends.
The sins of Judas are many. The first sin was greed. We read about the greed of Judas in John 12: 3-6:
Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feed of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples (he who was to betray Him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to take what was put into it.
The devil is a real presence in the world. He seeks to enter into every person who loves Christ, and he tries to exploit our weakest link. In the case of Judas, it was money. The devil couldn’t motivate Judas to murder Christ, but he Judas’ motivation of greed so that Judas betrayed Christ to those who would eventually see to it that He was murdered. In Luke 22:3-6, we read:
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve, he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and engaged to give him money. So he agreed, and sought an opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.
The betrayal itself was not an act of violence. Ironically, it was an act of affection. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, a sign of friendship:
Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying “The One I shall kiss is the Man; seize Him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said “Hail, Master!” And he kissed Him. Jesus said to him “Friend, why are you here?” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. (Matthew 26:48-50)
Up to this point in the story, the actions of Judas are common to ALL of us. We all have weaknesses. And the devil exploits these weaknesses. He enters into each of us through doubt and distraction, which eventually lead to actions that are destructive for us and those around us. He enters into marriages, into friendships, anywhere there is good, you will find him trying to turn good into bad. And most of our sins are not sins of violence, but sins of affection gone wrong. After all, who is it that we sin against the most? Our families and our friends, the one with whom we are the closest. And while we may never take up a weapon to hurt someone in physical way, we all use our mouths and our minds as weapons to inflict emotional harm on others. In some way, we all betray friends, confidences, courtesies and in so doing, we all betray Christ.
The greatest sin of Judas was not greed, giving into the devil or betrayal. The greatest sin of Judas was his failure to repent. It was his failure to believe in the Lord’s ability to forgive him and to love him again.
When Judas, His betrayer, saw that He was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)
The door to repentance is open to everyone, no matter what we’ve done. It was open to the harlots and tax collectors that Jesus forgave and embraced. It was open for Peter, who three times denied Christ. It was open to the thief on the cross. That door was even open to Judas.
The elements of Judas’ betrayal are foreshadowed in the fall of mankind. The first sin of Adam and Eve was greed. They wanted the one thing that God told them they were not to have, to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They betrayed God in eating from the tree. And when confronted, they lied, rather than repenting. Had they repented, would the outcome to the story been different? What if Judas had repented?
There is an old English adage that says “Still as of old, man by himself is priced. For 30 pieces of silver, Judas sold himself, not Christ.” Jesus paid the price for our sins by dying on the cross. There are two things we must offer in order to collect our reward, salvation: First, faith, and second, repentance each time we fail to live according to the Faith. It wasn’t betrayal that doomed Judas and it isn’t betrayal that is going to doom us. Repentance means changing direction, from the direction that takes us away from Christ, to the direction that takes us toward Him. Repentance is the key that opens the door to salvation. It could have for Judas. It still can for us.
When Your glorious Disciples were enlightened at the washing of the feet before the Supper, then the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of greed, and delivered You, the Righteous Judge, to lawless judges. Behold, O love of money, the one, who hanged himself for the sake of money. Flee from this insatiable desire, which dared such a thing against the Teacher. O Lord, Who deals righteously with all, glory to You. (Apolytikion of Bridegroom Service on Holy Wednesday Evening and the Service of the 12 Gospels on Holy Thursday Evening, Trans. by Fr. George Papadeas)
Repent daily! Repent today!
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Judas and Suicide: Can Judas be Forgiven?
by Nancy Ann McLaughlin
Are there “pure” evil persons that God cannot or will not forgive? Remember before you answer that God is all powerful and humans cannot force God to do or not to do anything.
In theory perhaps there are unforgivable persons. But theories are only good so far as they help individuals determine the best course of action for their own lives. For instance the theory that suicide is unforgivable may be in encouraging someone not to commit suicide. But there is a danger to using a theory in an attempt to condemn another person – I would hate it if someone were to judge me or my loved ones in that manner.
Many persons believe in, or have heard of, unforgivable “sins” such as suicide, BUT I suspect that such labels reflect more humankind’s misunderstanding or revulsion regarding such behavior. Thus such actions are apt to be a cultural tradition, norm, or taboo than a God-given decree or attitude towards someone who feels that desperate.
Is Judas’ suicide a moral evil? Many people believe that people like Judas (or Hitler) cannot or will not be forgiven – but that is between those persons and God alone to determine. Others cannot know what actually happened at the moment of each such person’s death. But “in theory” one can look at the possibilities in order to help oneself in one’s own relationship with God.
What is known about Judas Iscariot?
· Judas was one of the chosen apostles (Lk 6:16, Mk 3:19, Mt 10:4, and Jn 6:70-71). Did Jesus see potential in him?
· Judas had a father named Simon (Jn 6:71). He was a person like everyone else with a family.
· As an apostle Judas was both called and sent and was involved in all of the activities of Jesus and the other apostles.
· Judas was entrusted with the group’s money and was tempted with greed (Jn 12:4-6 and Mt 26:14-16).
· Jesus was aware of Judas’ issues and acknowledged that Judas would follow through on them (Mt 26:23-25 and Jn 13:21-30).
· Judas’ actions were seen not just as misguided but as evil by the scripture writers and thus some of the accounts also mention Satan or the d’evil being involved (Lk 22:1-6). But also compare this to Jesus’ response to Peter when Peter encouraged Jesus to take an easier, more glorious route: “Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law, [Notice who the responsible people are here – Judas is not mentioned.] and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Mt 15:21-23, NIV).
· Judas betrayed Jesus’ location to the chief priests, teachers of the Law, and the elders of the people, he did this through a kiss (Mt 26:47-49, Mk 14:43-46, Lk 22:47-48, Jn 18:2-3).
· Judas’ motivation appears to have been greed, but there are speculations that Judas was also disappointed that Jesus was not the type of Messiah who would conquer the Romans and take over in general. Some also think that Judas felt Jesus would get out of this confrontation like Judas had seen Jesus avoid similar events before (see John 8:42-58 and 10:25-39).
· Judas’ response to his own actions appear to be remorse and an attempt at restitution and perhaps stop what he, too late, realized was a mistake: “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and retuned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself” (Mt 27:3-5). Then the chief priests took the money and bought a burial place for foreigners called the Field of Blood.
· Luke, however, in the Acts of the Apostles, records: “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) thus the location is called the Field of Blood.
· The early church obviously was not clear in the details with these somewhat different accounts from the former tax collector’s sources and the doctor’s references. But both accounts attempt to understand the events of Judas’ death in terms of justice for the betrayer and scriptural support (for Matthew see Zech 11:12-13 and for Acts see Pss 69:26 and 109:8, as cited in JBC, 1968, p. 170).
· Judas was labeled as a traitor and betrayer (Lk 6:16, Mk 3:19, Mt 10:4). This implies that many did not forgive him, but could also have been descriptive such as Thomas the doubter, or Peter who denied Jesus.
Would Jesus have forgiven Judas if Judas had not committed suicide? Consider:
Jesus indicated that Pilate was not as much at fault as the Jewish leadership who had handed Jesus over (Jn 19:11).
Jesus forgave his executioners (Lk 23:34).
Jesus invited one of those also being crucified, who was guilty of crime, into heaven (Lk 23:39-43).
One of the first things that Jesus did after the resurrection was invited the disciples to be forgiving – breathing his Spirit upon them, he also wished them peace (Jn 20:19-23).
Jesus forgave Peter who denied him (Jn 21:15-19) and the apostles who had abandoned him.
Is there a serious issue with Judas having committed suicide and therefore God being unable to forgive him? Was Judas ungrateful that God had given him life? Or was Judas more caught up in the horrible greedy decision he made and was not able to forgive himself in his despair? God knows and understands what is happening in the hearts, bodies, and minds of all who commit suicide, and God still loves them as children.
Bottom line? If people choose to believe that God cannot or would not forgive Judas, they might have a problem believing that God would or could forgive themselves too. “The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus look at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God’” (Mk 10:26-27, NIV).
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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