“Breaking Bad” and “Money Heist” are two recent popular television and internet series. Both series feature a small group of villains rebelling against societal norms by breaking the law and committing heinous crimes. However, each series glamorizes the villains with redeeming qualities that partially justifies their actions, making the villains the hero.
There is a body of literature known by theologians and church scholars as Gnostic literature. Heretical and acknowledged as false teaching by the early Church fathers, this body has stirred discussion and dissent amongst religious scholars. Amongst the many works is one entitled “The Gospel of Judas”. In this book, Judas is portrayed as the only disciple of Jesus who truly understood His mission on earth. Jesus instructed Judas to betray Him, leading to His arrest and Crucifixion. Instead of portraying Judas as a traitor and villain, it presents him as a hero, one who willingly obeyed Jesus and His true plan for mankind. Is Judas a villain or a hero? Have we completely misunderstood his role and the motives for his actions?
None of the four Gospels ever suggest that Judas had an inner or secret knowledge of Jesus, not disclosed to the other disciples. Instead, the Gospels very clearly show that Judas had his own agenda, driven by greed. He held the money box and often stole from it. He agreed to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Judas could have stopped what he was doing at any point prior to his betrayal of Jesus. Even at the critical moment when he kissed Jesus, identifying Him to the soldiers, Jesus gave him one last chance to repent.
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. A large mob with swords and clubs was with him from the chief priests and elders of the people. His betrayer had given them a sign: “The one I kiss, he’s the one; arrest him.” So immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. “Friend,” Jesus asked him, “why have you come?” Then they came up, took hold of Jesus, and arrested him.
Matthew 26:47-50 (CSB)
Jesus called Judas a friend. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him but He still loved him as a friend. Did Judas play a role in the arrest and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Yes. Do we honor Judas because of it? No. God used the sinful ambitions of Judas to bring about His plan for the redemption of mankind, but God did not manipulate him. Judas ignored all of the warning signs and this last attempt of Jesus to reach his heart and repent. It was too late for Judas but it is not too late for us.
We are human beings, created in the image of Almighty God. We have been imbued with free will. We can choose to follow God and obey His teachings or, like Judas, we can reject God and follow our own sinful desires. There is nothing that can glamorize this latter choice. There is nothing that can justify or validate sin. There is only one answer, to repent and confess our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
The popular media may glamorize and glorify the villain but there is nothing redeeming in sinning. Jesus Christ gave His life to rescue us from this desolate state.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.