New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 49

      (Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) For it is written in the Book of Psalms: “Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it.” And, “Let another take his office.” Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection. And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:16-26) Simon Peter grasped that all events had to unfold in a certain way in order to fulfill the Scriptures. He understood that Judas was a small part of a much bigger narrative that had been set in motion from the very beginning of humanity. The Acts of the Apostles presents the 11 remaining disciples as taking Judas’ betrayal in stride. By this time they have been comforted and reassured that Jesus, their friend and teacher, is safe and better off now than He had been when He was alive. They had been instructed as to how the events that unfolded were preordained and prophesied. (Luke 24:13-32) And so all that remained to do was to clear up the empty space left by Judas Iscariot. They replaced him with a man named Matthias. And that was that. Following this, Judas is put to rest and gets no further mention in the Bible. His final reference in the Bible is rather graphic and unsettling, but it is presented in the context of full awareness that Judas played an important and inevitable part of the Jesus story, and that Jesus could not complete His mission without him. In the Acts of the Apostles there is a kind of tacit acceptance of Judas’ sad role that is strikingly absent from the four Gospels. There is Hope for Judas Though Judas’ story trails off in the Acts of the Apostles, a small clue as to his eternal situation is provided in a brief spiritual experience recorded by Swedenborg in The Word Explained (which is an early attempt at deep Biblical exposition and reads like the Arcana Coelestia). 115