The following is an excerpt from the Vision and The Vow by Peter Grieg (an incredible book that everyone should buy!!) This portion is about the grace of God. If you only ever read one thing on this blog make sure you read the following.
To set this up you need to know two things.
First Judas Iscariot was about as bad as they get, and also the only one of the twelve never to call Jesus Lord. He called him rabbi but never Lord.
The Second thing you need to think about are these three questions that are asked:
- What if, having betrayed Jesus to death, Judas had somehow managed to wrestle his demons a few more hours?
- What if Judas had not hanged himself that day from that tree?
- What if Judas had just help on, in living hell, for three more days on earth?
“What if he (Judas) had waited a weekend? That’s all that would have been needed. I love to imagine Jesus on Easter morning deliberately seeking out the disciple more lost than any other. Perhaps now, at last, he might be found! When Judas first sees Jesus, I imagine him wondering how this tumult of madness could now be conjuring up the rabbi in his tortured mind. Slowly Jesus approaches, but Judas is frozen in disbelief. Closer. Closer. Jesus is unbearable close – so close now that Judas can feel His breath of his cheek. And then it happens: Jesus greats Judas. With a kiss.
He is carrying three questions for Peter. He has scars to show Thomas. But first a kiss for Judas. And some time within those moments, I imagine two words- just two- being exchanged very quietly between the men. Jesus looks deeply into the unblinking eyes of His betrayer, who is too dumbstruck even to avert his gaze in shame. And then he utters a single syllable, upon which eternity will surely swing. Jesus whispers: “friend.” Do you hear the echo? It was another day, another kiss, perhaps another Judas, too. But in the garden that night, Jesus had greeted his betrayer in just the same way. “Friend,” He had said, “do what you came for.” And Judas had done it, and he had not been able to undo it. And Jesus had been to hell and back as a result. And for the twelfth of His disciples: “Friend.” He, too, had done what he came for. The sound of that word somehow echoes to reach Judas, lost as he is in another eternity. He hears the greeting. He feels the breath. Life to Dust. Ashes to ember. A kiss for a curse. As if slowly waking from a nightmare, Judas Iscariot replies to his victim, the victor, with a single word, surely more meaningful than we can ever know: “Lord.” It’s a whisper, barely audible. And yet the sound of that word resounds like a gunshot around the halls of heaven. “Lord.” The angels gasp in recognition: “Not rabbi – Lord! Even Judas, even Judas.” They say. And then perhaps Judas, in those awkward, awestruck moments, moves to reciprocate the kiss, as one should. Should he? Could he? Would Jesus allow it once again? And his lips touch the cheek, it is as though a pin pierces his stupor – his body just crumples upon Christ’s, shuddering with the greatest sobs of redemption history. Somehow the irreversible sin has become the very door of salvation – even for him, the twelfth, the last, the least, the thief, the greatest traitor of them all. With those tears the angelic realm erupts in praise. “Rejoice with me,” cries the Spirit, His voice echoing through heaven, “for I have found my lost sheep!” and there is always “more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who don not need to repent” (Luke 15:6) Praises ring to the Lamb that was slain for the sins of the world- even this, the greatest sin of them all. Truly He loves His enemy and does good to His persecutor. He is the Alpha and Omega who takes the twelfth brother and makes him first, lifting his name as the ultimate example of grace – insurmountable and eternal proof of the power of love to conquer sin.” (Grieg, Peter. The Vision and the Vow pg. 48-50)