We are all familiar with the tragic heroes of literature. They are typically initially well intentioned men who end up going astray thanks in large part to a tragic flaw (and a bad influence). A typical definition of the “tragic hero” describes a protagonist who has a fall from grace into suffering by means of his tragic flaw.
Judas Iscariot fits this definition. Think about it, Judas was a disciple. That’s typically a pretty good thing to be. He started out as a hero. He was a good man. But, his tragic flaw was greed. And this led him to sell the life of his Lord for 30 pieces of silver. This begins his “fall from grace” and also kills Jesus. However, as with all tragic heroes, he has a realization that he has screwed up, and commits suicide. This is his fall into suffering.
There is also the question of the tragedy part of it. A lot of times, we are taught to feel sorry for the tragic hero, generally because one gets the feeling it’s not always exactly his/her fault. However, this is never the case with Judas. Very few churches would herald Judas as an unlucky fellow. Even Pontius Pilate gets a better rap than Judas.
But consider just how important Judas’s action was. What if he hadn’t turned Jesus over to the authorities? Jesus had done a pretty good job of eluding them prior to this, he probably could’ve done it for longer. Maybe he could’ve grown to be really old, and have converted lots of people, and then just died peacefully, without pain and suffering. If this were the case, I just have one question about it all.
What’s the point?
The Easter holiday is really a pretty major part of the Christian religion for a good reason. Christ rising from the dead is a pretty significant thing to have happened. The resurrection and the ascension are what makes being a Christian different from other religions, at least in beliefs. So that alone points out the importance of Judas’s actions. But even more so than that, it highlights one of Jesus’ key ministries. Forgiveness is what ultimately comes out of this. Forgiveness and sacrifice. Forgiving sinners for their crimes, for those who know not what they do, and those who know exactly what they are doing. Sacrificing all for those less well off than you. And doing so without resistance of any kind. Jesus forgave the thief on the cross next to him on the spot. Jesus forgave those who killed him. And Jesus died for our sins, in the ultimate sacrifice for those who needed it most. These lessons might have lost a major amount of their importance had Jesus not died in such a horrible and tragic manner. So, as much as it pains me to say it, and as much as it will pain some of you to read it, thank you Judas. What you did was both terrible and great.
Don’t ever do it again.