I never thought it would end like this. I never thought they would actually kill him.
He said that he was the Messiah – God in the flesh. The one whose arrival we have been anticipating since the days of Isaiah. Four hundred years of silence were finally broken by John the Baptist. He was the herald—the “Elijah”—about whom the prophet Malachi spoke. Then he came, and it seemed like everything was going to get better. The Messiah had finally come. The Romans would finally leave.
In the beginning, I was excited. I was just like everyone else who thought he was the Messiah. I watched the woman at Jacob's well run at breakneck speed to tell her whole village about him. Nicodemus became one of his followers. Peter, James, and John would have died for him. In spite of all his
eccentricities, people loved him. So did I.
I was always different from them. The Twelve. Make no mistake – I did the same things they did. I heard the same teaching and saw the same signs. I performed the same miracles as the others. But I was ever the outsider – the only one who wasn't a Galilean. And he chose such an eclectic group of followers – fishermen, a tax collector, even a zealot. Who puts a Roman revenue agent in the same group as a zealot who wants nothing more than to watch Rome burn?
He washed my feet the last time we ate dinner together. He took the role of a servant. When all the other men refused to wash the feet of their fellow disciples, he took a towel and some water to do the job. What kind of king washes the feet of his people?
John always kept his eye on me. And yes, I did take some of the money out of the purse for myself. And why not? Why should we not have enjoyed it? He said that he was a Lord and would rule a kingdom. Should not a king's men enjoy some of the privileges of living at court?
The priests came to me first. They offered me money to betray him because the people loved him, and the leaders didn't want a riot on their hands. I knew where they would be able to arrest him without causing a stir. He liked to pray in a private garden on the Mount of Olives. I knew that when the confrontation took place, one of two things would happen. If he was the Messiah, he would be forced to confront the Romans instead of talking incessantly about morals and ethics. If he was nothing more than a messianic pretender, he would get his just desserts and be pushed aside so the real Messiah would come to liberate our people.
In my heart, I hoped that they would not try him, much less condemn him. And now they have crucified him. So all that talk about his dying was true. What kind of Messiah gets himself killed?
I have passed a point of no return now. It began with a simple transaction. Only too late did I realize that my doom had been sealed with thirty silver coins. This is the lot that has fallen to me – to be a tragic figure destined to be remembered only in shame. My name will be synonymous with betrayal.
Can I have forgiveness for this sin? No. He may have preached a message of forgiveness, of showing kindness to one's enemies. But some sins cannot be forgiven. I refuse to suffer the whispers and sideways glances that are sure to follow me everywhere I go.
Even now, I turn the rope over in my hands. It feels rough. But this must be done. I will slip the noose over my neck and tie it to one of the branches above my head. Like my Master, I will be suspended between heaven and earth. And like him, my last remaining companion will be the instrument of my death.
Already they have taken away his corpse. Then they will come for mine.
Judas is indeed a tragic figure. He is consistently listed as last among the Twelve in the Gospels. John indicates that he regularly stole from the money purse (John 12:1-6). He eventually betrayed Jesus for personal reasons. But could Judas have been forgiven of his sin? Absolutely. There is no sin in Scripture so grave as to disqualify a person from receiving God's mercy as long as he or she repents (1 John 1:7). We cannot be so arrogant as to think that we could actually commit a sin that puts us beyond God's ability to forgive (cf. Acts 3:19; Romans 2:4-5). Forgiveness is freely offered to all who confess their spiritual shortcomings and identify themselves with Christ (Colossians 1:11-15). It is nothing short of heartbreak to think that Judas heard so much, yet understood so little.