New Church Life March/April 2017 - Page 50

new church life: march/april 2017 What we find in The Word Explained 3158 forces us to reconsider everything we know about Judas. If there is hope for Judas, then there is also hope for us. In passage 3158 of The Word Explained, Swedenborg writes concerning admission into heaven, and how none is admitted without first being prepared spiritually. The passage speaks frankly of temptations and how “God Messiah” (the Lord) permits people to struggle, as it is in these times that He can work most closely with people and bring about the greatest changes. Swedenborg concludes the passage with a note on extraordinary cases of reformation and preparation for heaven: To this it must be added that some are indeed reformed more quickly, and even at the moment of death; but then they are of such a nature that they had been prepared previously in a marvelous manner of which they themselves are ignorant; otherwise, if saved by the mere mercy of God Messiah, they would undergo infernal torments, as was told me concerning Judas the betrayer, of whom however, there is said to be hope because he was one of the elect who were given to God Messiah by Jehovah the Father, as declared by God Messiah himself. [John 17:6] (The Word Explained 3158, emphasis mine) With this brief note, we find hope for Judas. There is an assurance that even though he was not present for the resurrection, the Lord did not forget him. We see that perhaps Judas was being prepared for heaven “in a marvelous manner of which [he himself] was ignorant.” And most significantly, that Judas would not suffer in eternal damnation for being chosen to play the villain in a narrative so huge that he could not understand his place in it. What we find in The Word Explained 3158 forces us to reconsider everything we know about Judas. This is only a brief selection in a posthumously published “pre-theological” work, but what it has to offer the legacy of Judas cannot be overstated, especially because of what it has to offer us. If there is hope for Judas, then there is also hope for us. Conclusion Many disciples have small details stated explicitly regarding their families, occupations, even their thoughts and feelings. Judas, however, does not get similar treatment, despite being one of the most significant disciples on account of his role in the ultimate prophesy-fulfilling “lifting up” of Jesus. Because of their age and brevity, it might be tempting to believe that the Gospels are closer to mere registers of events with no frills than they are to 116