Judas’s Plight (or, Why Cunningham is Wrong)

Judas is not in Hell because he did something which “didn’t meet God’s conditions.” Judas is only still in Hell because he hasn’t forgiven himself yet — his Hell is self-imposed. I think that even the existence of a “Hell” is called into question in this show. Judas is definitely in a place of despair, but as Jesus says, he has been in a safe place the entirety of the past 2000 years. 

If Satan had not succeeded in convincing Judas to kill himself, Judas would have been alive three days later when Jesus rose from the dead. Judas likely would have also seen Jesus, either on his own or with the other Apostles, and been forgiven face-to-face. Without that closure, without the confirmation directly from Jesus that he did the right thing, Judas falls deeper and deeper into despair. He has remained in a catatonic state because he feels guilty for doing the “wrong thing,” when he really did the right thing. Judas also (like all of us) thinks he could have acted differently or changed the outcome of events, when it is (by definition) impossible to go against God’s Ineffable Plan.

God and Jesus have already forgiven Judas for his actions because that’s how God operates: He forgives literally everyone for literally everything because He loves everyone, no matter what. Judas’s despair comes in part from not understanding the scope of God’s love.

Judas also still loves Jesus, as much as he would like to say otherwise. If he did not love Jesus, he wouldn’t still feel the guilt and pain after 2000 years for thinking that he caused his best friend’s death. Other characters who are equally culpable, like Pontius Pilate, are only in Heaven because their “conscience is clean.” They have forgiven themselves and are therefore open to God’s forgiveness. Judas believes that he isn’t worthy of forgiveness, which he has since equated with Jesus not wanting to forgive him and abandoning him to his despair.