Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Near the end of his life, Judas made a big mistake –no, not betraying Jesus –well, yes, that was a pretty big mistake; but that’s not the one I mean. He made the same mistake a lot of us make in his misunderstanding of Jesus’ forgiveness. While considering my own sins, the Holy Spirit taught me this lesson; and now I’d like to pass it on to you.
So, we know that Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. History records in Matthew 26:14-16,
Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
Afterwards though, he regretted what he had done and tried to return the money; and then Judas killed himself. We can find this recorded in Matthew 27:3-5,
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the 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.
Later, Peter alluded that Judas went to hell for his sin: “Then they prayed, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs’” (Acts 1:24-25).
That’s the history of it, but the thing is that Judas could have been forgiven. Heck, if he had just waited three days he would have understood everything and actually realized that Jesus was divine. Not all of Jesus’ disciples really bought into the whole thing until the end; remember that Jesus had to actually reappear to Thomas in the flesh before he acknowledged the resurrection:
Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:28-29).
Although the Lord’s words were directed at Thomas, this scene would have helped Judas as well; and it still speaks to us today who can’t see Christ in the flesh yet must believe on him. If Judas had taken Christ’s Godhood into account he would have realized that forgiveness was waiting for him; since Jesus is God and God moves infinitely in all he does. This means that if Jesus forgives, he always forgives. His ministry actually supports this idea; Jesus himself said,
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:31-32).
And the Lord told taught his disciples about forgiveness as well,
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).
And Paul echoed the power of the Lord’s forgiveness when he wrote, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). The Lord forgives when we ask it of him.
Many people make the same mistake as Judas though too. They think that they can’t be forgiven so they refuse to accept forgiveness. Jesus can and will forgive you. After all, it is written, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus is able to forgive retroactively; when you accept Jesus as your savior all of your sins (past, present, future) are sent to Christ’s cross 2000 years ago and they die there with him. But unlike our sins; Jesus actually came back from the cross:
After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).
It is because of his great forgiveness that we are able to be near to the Lord at all. But when we accept Christ’s death in our stead and receive our forgiveness; we are no longer enemies of God. Therefore it is written, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Don’t let your past, present, or future sin wear you down. Don’t be like Judas and let your guilt lead you to eternal damnation in hell. Rather, let Jesus into your heart and let him forgive you and make you into a new, clean person; for of the saved Christian it is written,
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-19).