Like many of you, my wife, Terri, and I spent Sunday evening watching “The Passion Live” on TV. The live show, hosted and narrated by Tyler Perry, told the 2000-year-old story of what the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life on earth were like, with a modern twist. The live show told the story of Jesus Christ presiding over the Last Supper and being betrayed, convicted, crucified and resurrected in the nearly 300-year-old streets of New Orleans, featuring some of the city’s well-known iconic locations. The program culminated with a procession of hundreds of people carrying an illuminated cross, 20-foot long, from the Superdome to Woldenberg Park near the banks of the Mississippi River.
The show featured an excellent cast of celebrity talents playing the key characters taking part in the final moments of Jesus’ life. Singer Seal played Pontius Pilate; Trisha Yearwood portrayed Mary, mother of Jesus; Jencarlos Canela took on the role of Jesus, and Chris Daughtry acted as the Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. The program also featured music by various cast members, including Michael W. Smith, Trisha Yearwood, and Chris Daughtry and also featured musical guest, Yolanda Adams.
After the program, I was struck by how things turned out for Judas. Here he was, a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, spending time in the presence of Christ every day and seeing the miracles and listening to the teachings of Christ first-hand. There weren’t too many people on the face of the Earth with a better seat to witness the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ than Judas. He turned his back on him for what in today’s currency equates to about one thousand large. I found myself asking: “Is it possible that through God’s abundant grace and mercy that Judas will be in Heaven or is his soul mortally damned?”
Our initial human response is likely to be one of revulsion. After all, how could Judas possibly be in Heaven after what he did to God? His actions were such a betrayal of the Lord and utterly offensive to God. Of course not! There is no way that Judas gets into Heaven. Right?
Truth be told, none of us deserve to be saved. None of us are worthy of God’s love. None of us deserve God’s forgiveness. We offend God all the time. Apart from Christ, we fall prey to our sin nature giving into our lusts, our pride, and our selfish desires. Many of us have turned our back on God time and time again. God, through the blood sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ, chose to deliver us from damnation. Through Christ, God overcame our flaws and failures.
While we were yet unfaithful, God proved faithful.
Jesus was not caught by surprise when Judas betrayed him. No indeed, Jesus foretold of Judas’ unthinkable actions. God was not caught off guard. He predicted it, right down to the price of Judas’ betrayal to the cost of seeing his Son, Jesus, nailed to the Cross.
There are lots of reasons that we may not encounter Judas in Heaven. For example, you could make the argument that he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. It is possible that Judas did not put his faith and trust in Jesus Christ—something which we must all do if we are to experience Heaven. We know from Scripture that things did not end well for Judas. He died the vilest, horrific death.
Let me be clear, I don’t know if Judas found forgiveness for his utter betrayal of humanity’s Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Son of God. Frankly, Judas is not one of the people I expect to see in Heaven. But then, many could say the same about me. And that’s how immeasurable God’s grace is.
My point in sharing this with you is this—-God’s grace is great and fully able to cover any of our sins. And God is abundantly merciful and capable of forgiving even the likes of Judas. The sacrifice Christ made is good news for all of us. Because of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we can all know forgiveness. Including you. Yes, you too can be redeemed and returned to a right relationship with your Creator. All you have to do is ask, and He will be faithful in showering you with His love and forgiveness.
For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)