The act of Judas’ betrayal emphatically illustrates the situation of the hard hearted. There is no way to lay blame at the feet of Christ for the deeds and desires of Judas. The point is overtly clear: Jesus does not reject Judas, Judas rejects Jesus.
But even Judas’ rejection is under the sovereign will of God. This is made plain by Jesus, who places no little emphasis on His choosing Judas (John 6:70-71; 13:18). The impending betrayal will be no surprise to Jesus.
The obvious question, then, has to do with culpability. Who is to blame for Judas’ betrayal of Christ? The answer is both plain and evasive. Christ sovereignly chose Judas, knowing full well that he was “a devil” and that He would betray Him (John 6:70-71). The entire episode was “the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” wherein Christ was crucified “by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). Judas was part of a concerted effort, self-motivated by evil intent, “to do whatever [God’s] hand and [His] plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:28).
Jesus explains this conundrum with the words: “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:22). In other words, it is most definitely determined by the sovereign counsel of God that Christ will be betrayed, but the one who—from his own heart—desires such a treacherous evil is the one who is culpable. This teaches us a great deal concerning any and every hard heart.
Judas was admitted to all of the same privileges as the other disciples, and even more. After all, he was the treasurer; an honorable and privileged position. By all observable means, he had equal access and opportunity to Christ. And if this is true of Judas, then what of others? Could anyone have more cause to blame “fate” or imagine that their deeds have (or will) preclude God’s extension of grace?
If Judas teaches us anything about reprobation, it is that the rejection of God is not the result of God’s rejection. If anyone could lay claim to being reprobate, it was Judas. And yet, he was closer to the breathing breast of God, the teaching mouth of God, the compassionate eyes of God, the gentle hands of God, the caring ears of God, and the saving blood of the Lamb, than any other, save the eleven. Judas walked with Him and beheld Him in most personal and private “fellowship.” He talked with Him face to face, daily. He beheld His power and His virtue, witnessed His private life, listened to His teachings, and traveled from village to village to temple with Him and His closest companions. He lodged with Him, ate with Him, celebrated feasts with Him, and even ministered with Him. On this occasion, we learn that even his feet were washed by Jesus and that he was handed a morsel of honor; only to repay the kindness of the Lord with a betraying kiss.
If the perdition of Judas teaches us anything about reprobation, it is that no fault can rightly be charged to God and that He does not delight in the damnation of the wicked. Rather, Jesus demonstrates God’s forbearance and how His multiplied provisions conspire to extend kindness and a type of love that proves both His heart and the heart of the one who rejects Him.
The Lord expresses both His heart and the key to the transformation of a hard heart: “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die…” (Eze 33:11). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
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