For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
( Matt. 16:26)
ERASING the ‘Judas stamp’
From the December 11, 2006 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
HOW WOULD IT FEEL to have your name passed down through centuries of history as synonymous with betrayal, greed, and treachery? That’s what happened to Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples of Christ Jesus, whose denunciation led directly to Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Two thousand years later, calling someone a Judas means that individual is to be considered a contemptible traitor, the lowest of the low.
… Jesus’ message, in effect, told people: “If you believe God is remote, think again. He is present everywhere among us. If you believe evil has the upper hand, think again. Evil has no power, for God alone governs. If you believe life is empty of hope, joy, and goodness, think again. If you believe it’s too late for a fresh start, think again. If you believe your life is broken beyond repair, think again. There is good news: The gospel—the light of the Christ, of the true understanding of God—is come. That understanding will change everything.”
On the other hand, Peter, who had briefly walked on the waves of the Sea of Galilee before sinking, was not this time engulfed in waves of anguish. He turned from self-condemnation, to a rock-solid resolve to think anew about himself, who he was, and where his courage came from. He returned to the disciples. Maybe he said, “Well, guys, I really blew it this time.” But he was willing to try again—to learn from his mistakes and make them steps of progress. And, significantly, the disciples took him back. Almost all of them had run away. But now, they stood together with compassion that embraced Peter’s humble repentance. It was in that circle of unconditional love that they proved, despite their previous shortcomings, they really were Jesus’ disciples (see John 13:35). Chances are, they would have done the same for Judas, had Judas, asked them. But Judas had lost sight of hope, an important moral quality that Christian Science teaches to be essential in an individual’s emergence out of physical depravity and into spiritual understanding (see Science and Health, pp. 115-116). And despite his intentions, he stumbled in the darkness.
Despite Judas’ failings, the light of the Christ was always right there—right before his face. So, too, in our moments of hopelessness, we can remember the choices of Judas and Peter. We can … opt instead for healing. We can choose repentance, and walk over waves of despair. We can know that at our darkest moments the saving Christ is at our side. And so there is light for our journey. There is bedrock beneath our feet.