What Happened to Judas?
- Friday, March 23, 2007
One Question For Peter
Where is Judas today? Is he in heaven or is he in hell? The Bible is very clear on that point: Judas is in hell. In Acts 1:25, Peter spoke of Judas who left his apostolic ministry “to go where he belongs.” Literally, the verse reads “to go to his own place.” “His own place” is hell. If that seems harsh, consider the words of Jesus in John 6:70-71 when he said,
“Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)
He did not literally mean that Judas was a demon, but that Judas was even then (about a year before the crucifixion) acting under Satan’s influence.
Listen to Jesus as he prays in the Upper Room on Thursday night. Judas has left to make the final arrangements. Even now the soldiers are gathering for the march to the Mount of Olives. The final act is about to play itself out. Meanwhile, Jesus is praying for his disciples: “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled” (John 17:12).
Judas is in hell today. He has been there for 2,000 years and he will be there forever. He has paid the ultimate price for the crime of betraying the Son of God.
If someone asks, “Did Judas lose his salvation?” the answer is No. He didn’t lose his salvation because he never had it. Whatever else you can say about him, he was never a follower of Jesus Christ in the same sense as the other apostles. He was not saved and then lost. He was lost because he was never saved in the first place.
But someone else may ask, “Did Judas go to hell because he committed suicide?” Good question, and the answer is once again No. Suicide is a sin, but it is not why Judas went to hell. Judas went to hell because he never truly committed himself to Jesus Christ. His betrayal proved that fact; his suicide merely sealed his fate.
One final question. “Doesn’t the Bible say that Judas ‘repented?’” The older translations do indeed use that word in Matthew 27:3. A more accurate rendering is “seized with remorse.” Although Judas was gripped with the wrongness of what he had done, he never asked for forgiveness. There is a world of difference between those two things. Many people who truly feel sorry for their sins never come to God and ask for forgiveness. Judas tried to undo his betrayal, but it was too late. I do not doubt that he wept bitter tears as he threw the money back into the temple. But his remorse (as sincere as it was) was not true repentance and it did not lead to forgiveness. It led instead to suicide, the ultimate proof that Judas died an unforgiven man.
Three Questions For Us
As we think about the strange, sad story of Judas, several questions rise to the surface. These are questions not about Judas but about you and me. They ask us to consider how much of Judas lives inside each of us today. And before we consider these questions, consider this: The more religious you are, the more likely you are to do what Judas did. If Judas were alive today, the best place to find him would be in church on Sunday morning. He would come early, sit near the front, sing the hymns with gusto, clap during the choruses, and say Amen during the sermon. If Judas lived in Oak Park, I don’t doubt he would attend Calvary Memorial Church. He was that kind of man. Who knows? He might be sitting next to you in the pew. Or he might even be closer than that.
Question 1: How Has God Disappointed You?
If there is any way to understand Judas, it is at the point of personal disappointment. Perhaps he truly believed that Jesus had let him down and in his own twisted way felt justified in his act of treachery. But is that so much different from the way we feel when we think God has let us down?
So I ask the question: How has God disappointed you? For some, it comes from shattered dreams and fond hopes never realized. For others, it comes from a failed marriage or children who turned against you. Perhaps you prayed and prayed for a loved one to be healed of cancer only to attend their funeral later. Maybe you feel deep inside that God simply hasn’t lived up to his end of the bargain. Though you would never say it in church, you feel cheated by the Lord.
Let us face the fact that God often fails to live up to our expectations. Sometimes he simply doesn’t do what we think he ought to do. We have certain standards for the God of the universe—and he doesn’t always meet them. Judas couldn’t live with disappointment so he betrayed the Lord. What about you?
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