‘Interesting theological question: When Jesus was in the grave, did he run into Judas? Imagine that conversation!’
That gem was tweeted a couple of days ago by a fine young priest I know named Kyle Norman. Very thought-provoking. Thanks, Kyle! I wasn’t the only one who thought so: one of his friends replied, ‘When did Judas hang himself? Before or after Good Friday/Saturday? I must get my bible out again.’
I was about to join the conversation with a supposedly insightful comment, but then I stopped myself. The door I was about to open might be a little too complex for a Facebook/Twitter comment thread.
Not that blogs are a whole bunch better, but here goes:
First of all, for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that ‘the Grave’ means ‘Hell’. And let’s also assume, only for the sake of this discussion, that Judas’s betrayal and choice not to repent of it and then hang himself, bought him a one-way ticket there. (This is an intriguing question in itself. Read The Gospel According to Tim [and Andrew] for more of my thoughts on this, and I may revisit the topic more directly sometime in the future. But for today, let’s proceed on the assumption that Judas went to Hell, for the sake of argument.)
With those parameters established …
Since Heaven exists outside of time, is that also true of Hell? And if it is true of Hell, does it matter whether, in our linear view of time, Judas died before Easter Sunday or not? Could they could have crossed paths in Hell regardless of whether Judas died before or after Easter Sunday, in our timeline, because there is no such thing as a timeline in the hereafter?
As Christian Shephard (John Terry) told his son Jack (Matthew Fox) in the final episode of Lost, ‘There is no “now” here.’
But if that’s the case, how does it work that Jesus descended into Hell and rose again on the third day? If time doesn’t exist in eternity, how can words like ‘arrive’ and ‘depart’ even compute?
But the track this train of thought leads me down is decidedly uncomfortable: if Jesus spent time in Hell, and yet time doesn’t exist in Hell, does that mean part of Him is still there?
If so, Jesus’ sacrifice for us on Good Friday just got infinitely more complicated for me.
That said, this is just an exercise in (probably flawed) deductive reasoning, not prayer. I don’t have an answer, and I don’t know if I ever truly will. But it might be good for me to spend some of my Easter Weekend meditating on these grave questions.
Thanks a lot, Kyle! (I think …)
Peace be with you.