For Christians, the story of the Passion is one we all know, it’s the foundation for our faith, and its the pentacle of what Christianity is about. It’s a source of pain, sorrow, and dismay on one hand, but on the other of hand a source of hope, joy, and promise. Christ went to the cross willingly and rose again. Imagine being a witness to this. One imagines the risk but again think about the mass of what if that had to occur to make this possible. Which brings us to “bad guy” one Judas. Many of us look at Judas and have to wonder how he could betray Jesus, he knew who Jesus was, and knew what he was about. However, as much as we like to villanize Judas what if there was no Judas? The bottom line is someone had to do this. Maybe Judas was the only one strong enough, or maybe he was just a complete slime. None of us know, but the fact is it needed to be done. Now I have a hard time believing that he was a complete slime. Jesus would not have chosen a complete slim, or would he. Jesus came and walked with sinners, the poor, and forsaken. One of the things I always look at when examining the Passion story is Judas. He’s such an unknown figure and all we know is he betray Jesus and later out of guilt took his own life. See because there is a little Judas in all of us and while we never walked right next to Him and pointed us out. Jesus forgave Judas, but He also forgave us when we have played the role of Judas. Now many of you are probably confused, but we are all like Judas. We have all betrayed Jesus. We have sinned, we have denied him, and we have lived as if He did not exist. It may not have been advertent, and more than likely we didn’t plan on this, but more than likely when Judas first met Jesus he thought “man I’m going to sell this powerful hombre out.” No, he took a chance, learned who Jesus was, and he followed Him.
Again, though, back to us. As Christians, we have learned who He is, and followed Him. We often do not plan on hurting people, disappointing Christ, but then again many of us don’t wake up in the morning saying I’m going to honor God to the best of my ability either. Think of it though “This I tell you whatever you do for the least of these you do for me” Matthew 25:42. When we ignore those we deem as riff raff or lessers we are denying Christ. When you walk past the homeless, we are betraying Christ. When we sin, we betray Christ. However, the Bible is not a story of dismay, there is hope in this. Like Judas, we are was forgiven for all of these. Judas was only human and his last few days we absolute turmoil. It begins with selling out his friend, teacher, and savior for a couple coins which will eventually run out. He is thereby forced to see this same friend sentenced to death. Many of us have stood by and watched a friend fall or get hurt either because we were lazy or simply don’t care at times. His friend is killed, and not just killed, killed at the hands of the Romans, on a cross, and for those of you who do not know crucifixion is one of if not the most heinous death of all time. It was considered the worst of its time. He could not overcome his guilt and took his life. He forgot everything he knew about God and his friend Jesus Christ. See because he was forgiven, and is forgiven. Judas couldn’t forgive himself. Many times there are things we hold onto, but do not let go. We cling to our sin, and our wrongs and carry this burden, but the bottom line is he was forgiven. Now by no means am I justifying Judas or trying to paint a pretty picture of him, but we forget we serve a strong and infinitely great being. As bad as what Judas did was, God is bigger, better, and stronger.
However, we know Judas was only one player in the demise of Christ. There were those who broke the law and conspired to take the life of Christ. The Sanhedrin, the most powerful and “holy” Jews on the planet. They were the example and if they had lived by the “law” which they believed they upheld they would know they were in the wrong. People looked to these people for guidance and leadership. If Jesus were alive it would essentially be the equivalence to the Pope and the Vatican conspiring to kill a person which they believed to be a criminal. Rather than doing this they try to save a little face and continue to cover up their wrongs. They sat in their temple of fake piety. They were hypocrites, then again who here is not a hypocrite. We all wear a mask. We hide behind them with our holier than thou mentality. We see the drunk and think well I’m not that guy. We see a child who is troubled and think well my child would never. I’ll use a pretty relatable example how many people have seen a large man covered in tattoos who is riding his motorcycle. He is a group of people. Most people have already labeled this man a tough customer at best. We sit around in this arbitrary cycle of life thinking we have been better than this person and better than the next. The High Priest Caiphas looked the Messiah in the eye and essentially had the nerve to say I know better. However, Caiaphas is not alone. We have done this, we have all disobeyed God. We have tried to do things on our own. People today love the paraphrase the Bible, treat it as if it’s a cafeteria, just as the Sanhedrin did. They knew the law better than anyone but chose to minimize some of it because it was convenient, they were fearful of Jesus. Despite what they did they were forgiven.
One of the craziest portions of the Passion narrative is that Pilate is not that bad of a guy by comparison to some. Pilot the ruthless Roman prefect who was no stranger to bending the rules, being ruthless, and killing saw that Jesus was no threat, no harm, and an innocent. Pilate wanted not part in the crucifixion, which by the way is against the gain for a Roman. Romans were not shy about “disposing” of criminals. Pilate was so disgusted at the crowd he had to cleanse himself following the ruling. Pilate was guilty, but not in the sense a lot of people would paint him to be. He was a puppet. He had the authority to let go of Jesus. He could have told the Sanhedrin this was his call and Jesus lives. There are so many what if’s in this narrative. However, he didn’t stand and he eventually felt the consequences later. Again though Pilate is not alone. We can sit here and look at how bad of a person Pilate was, but he was forgiven.
Continuing on with Pilate, Pilate gave the people a choice, Jesus or Barrabas. Barrabas was a really bad dude, a known killer, and by just about anyone’s eye test someone you did not want to be around. The people of Judea were given the choice between an innocent and a murderer. We all know Barrabas was their choice. How symbolic was it though at that moment Jesus takes the fall for another man. When Christ took the cross he saved us and he saved Barrabas. We in a way are all like Barrabas a person who has committed countless sins, but by grace and a sacrifice are forgiven. We are cleansed by the blood of Christ a punishment we deserve.
One this is clear across the board for each person deemed as the bad guy in this narrative, they were all forgiven. God can forgive these individuals like he can forgive you. There is hope for us all. We are all capable of being redeemed by the power of Christ. We do not have to move on and live in our guilt of what we did like Judas. We need to trust in the way of God. Follow Christ to the best of our ability and no longer rewrite doctrine. Following Jesus is not convenient it’s something we all need. When given the choice between right and wrong we have to be the voice of reason. When Jesus encountered the adulterer after He had scattered the angry crowd He looked at her and told her “Go and sin no more.” He knows this was not possible, but at the same time, He was the soul within. Life puts us in situations which we do not want to be in. However, when it comes down to it we must know who is in control. No matter how hard we fall, Christ will be there picking us up again.