Did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?

Me & Judas

To paraphrase Bono in a radio interview circa 1980-something: This post is about questions, not answers. For some reason I keep tripping over Judas. You know, Iscariot. The betrayer of Christ. The one who dipped his bread when Jesus said he would. That Judas.

I’m in the process of cleaning up a mess. The thing with a mess is…it’s, well…messy. Part of this clean up has involved a lot of time working through issues like: betrayal, deception, guilt…maybe even some greed. I have a feeling that over a cup of coffee Judas would have a lot to say about these things.

In 1964 Bob Dylan left it to us to “decide whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side.” Theologians have countless opinions. Pastors have preached countless sermons. I don’t know where I stand. I may never know. I do know that when Bono growls “Jesus…this is Judas” into the mic at the beginning of a live performance of “Until The End of the World” a part of me just plain gets it.

I’ve read and reread the accounts of Judas and what he did in all the gospels. I still don’t get it…

  • What lead Judas to make the deal in the first place? Remove his betrayal and he seems to love Jesus.
  • What lead him to follow Christ in the first place? He made the deal after he was with Jesus.
  • It seems to me that Judas experienced great remorse. What can I learn from that? He took the money. Then returned the money. Discarded it actually. Then hanged himself. These are not the actions of a true betrayer.

Have you ever done something you never thought you’d do? Have you ever found yourself at the end of a moment and realized that even though your actions brought you to that moment…you never really wanted to be there? I have. I think Judas did. He obviously realized what he had done. He did what was in his power to do in order to correct his wrongs: he returned the money. Even after doing that though, he must have realized that he had set things in motion that could not be undone. He could not fix it. At all. Consequences. Then the hanging. To me that is evidence of desperation, sadness, overwhelming guilt, and hopelessness. If someone can experience all those things with such intensity that they are driven to hanging themself…are they really worthy of eternal scorn?

I don’t know if Judas is in Heaven or Hell. I don’t know how to reconcile the fact that Jesus knew how this was all going to play out and still let it happen. I don’t know what to think of Judas’s suicide. All we know of Judas is this one block of time in his life. Was he a good person that did a very, very bad thing? Was he a bad person that finally felt the guilt he should have? I don’t know.

I do know that I feel like I can relate to Judas a little bit. I do know that I see my own arrogance and pride in the times I have referred to him as “the betrayer”. I do know that I agree with Bob: “…in a many dark hour I’ve been thinkin’ about this, that Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss…but I can’t think for you, you’ll have to decide…whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side.”

Want to explore a little bit?

  1. Here is a powerful video put to the original recording of: With God On Our Side
  2. Listen quickly right at the beginning and you’ll hear Bono’s, “Jesus…this is Judas.” Until The End Of The World live from Boston during the Elevation Tour, 2003.




Filed under 2011

2 responses to “Did Judas Iscariot have God on his side?

  1. kevinnye

    Hey, I just finished writing a post about Judas on my blog and yours came up as “possibly related”. I think that the theory I’m proposing, though it certainly isn’t universally accepted, helps answer the questions you have. The post I made is the first in a series of historical first person fiction, and it doesn’t get to the stuff you’re after just yet, but basically it hinges on the idea of Judas as a Zealot being the reason he followed Jesus, betrayed Jesus, and later felt remorse enough to hang himself. You can check it out, or not, but here’s the link if you are interested.

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