The name Judas doesn’t appear on the top ten list of boy’s names for the year. Or girl’s names for that matter. I don’t know anyone named Judas and I’ll bet you don’t either. The name has a hex on it. It’s like black cats, full moons, and Friday the 13th. Michael, however, that’s the most popular name of all time. Another name for Jesus, the son of God, the right hand of God, God Himself. We think of Judas, we think betrayal. The one who condemned Michael to death.
Read in the Bible and you’ll find that Judas didn’t live long past the wicked deed and in fact hanged himself. I don’t know. I wasn’t there. How he died is not for me to say. But what happened next? Why don’t we know that? Why do we say that that was it for Judas? Pastors and churches preach forgiveness and that there is no sin too great for God to forgive. But did Judas believe that he couldn’t be forgiven—shouldn't be forgiven—and so he wasn’t?
I know the story of Dr. Faustus. He seemed to believe that his sins were too great for God to forgive. It was his pride, in essence, that condemned him. He couldn’t accept the forgiveness offered. Maybe that happened with Judas. But the last time I checked, the world hasn’t ended yet. If death is really just sleeping, as many Christians believe, then Judas is sleeping. He could be in for a big surprise. Why would God not be waiting around, holding his breath in beautiful anticipation, to wake Judas up and say, “Look! I’m alive. You didn’t ruin the plan. Come back to the family.” Maybe Judas will swallow his pride and stop putting God in a box, believing that He can’t forgive what happened.
Heck, maybe, for all I know, God and Judas have already had that get together. Maybe Judas thought it was over, Hell for him, and woke up on a cloud, wondering if he had really died or not. Maybe Jesus went straight to his tree, the place where Judas broke his own neck, and told him there was still hope. Maybe Jesus did talk to Judas before appearing to Mary on that resurrection morning. How can I say what really happened? Maybe Judas is an angel now, watching over others who make poor decisions just like he did. Maybe it isn’t too late for Judas even after death.
I suppose this theory wouldn’t bring a smile to most pastors’ eyes. They’d rather not let their congregations get the idea that they can run around and be as bad as they want to be, even to the death, and still have a hope for eternal life after this one. But people always have a choice to make. And even after we die, doesn’t God still get to raise whomever he pleases? Don’t you think He wants to do all that He can to convince us that nothing is too horrible that His blood can't cover it?
I guess there will have to be some point at which even God will have to give up and say, “That’s all I can do.” That will have to be the most painful future event that will ever occur. Because we can keep refusing, if we really want to. We can cling to our badness, like Faustus and perhaps like Judas. But what if murderers stood face to face with those they killed, were forgiven to their faces by the victims; how could the killers not accept the freedom from guilt?
We’ll see, I guess. One day. What the ultimate choices will be.