If He had
not been Born
There sometimes arises a question as to the real implication of Jesus' words in Matt. 26.24 "The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born". Did Jesus mean by this that there can be no possible future hope for Judas, that the enormity of his sin has precluded him from any further opportunity of repentance and reconciliation with God? It would seem hard to reconcile such view with the fact of Judas' evident remorse; "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood". It was a remorse that led him in despair, to go away and hang himself. Caiaphas, betrayed no sign of remorse, but is to see the Lord again 'at his appearing and his kingdom' (Matt. 26. 64). Would it not seem logical to think that Judas, whose guilt, on a sober appraisal of the position, was certainly of lesser degree than that of the High Priest, should at least enjoy the same opportunity and perhaps translate his remorse into repentance and consequent reconciliation. He must have been one of those for whom the Lord prayed "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". If those words mean anything they must imply a future opportunity for repentance.
There is in the "Book of Enoch" a clue to a possible reason for our Lord's allusion. We need to remember that a number of our Lord's sayings, and those of some of the Apostles, reveal that they were intimately familiar with this book, which was in general use at the time of the First Advent. The passage in question is in 1 Enoch 38, where the appearance of Christ at his Second Advent for the judgment of the wicked is described. The Book of Enoch consistently refers to the Messiah as the "Son of Man" or the "Righteous One" and in this remark of Jesus at the Last Supper, he too used the expression "Son of Man". The Enoch passage is as follows:— "And when the Righteous One shall appear before the eyes of the righteous, whose elect works hang upon the Lord of Spirits, and light shall appear to the righteous and the elect who dwell on the earth; where then will be the dwelling of the sinners, and where the resting-place of those who have denied the Lord of Spirits? It had been good for them if they had not been born."
The meaning of the expression in this context is clear enough. When the Lord appears in glory and the faith of his true disciples is vindicated and honoured, where will the sinners and the apostates hide themselves in shame? Where will those who have denied their Lord go to conceal themselves from his searching gaze? That in the strong hyperbolic language of the day is "It had been good for them if they had not been born".
This expression does not mean that they were doomed to eternal death, but that rather than face the Lord they had denied or repudiated they would better not have been there at all, having never lived.
It might well be then that Jesus, talking to his disciples and Judas, was really quoting this verse from the Book of Enoch in order that Judas might recognise the allusion. Thus he would be reminded that one day, in the day of the Lord's glory, he would be called upon to stand before the Lord he was now betraying. Then he would experience the shame and confusion that in that day will be the portion of all who have rejected Jesus in this Life.