WHY DID JESUS CHOOSE AND KEPT JUDAS AS ONE OF HIS DISCIPLES UNTIL THE END IF JESUS KNEW JUDAS WOULD BETRAY HIM?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). Jesus is Word God in flesh who is Alpha and Omega, He knew that Judas was going to betray him, then why did he choose and keep him in the circle of his close companions until the end?
Among the many disciples who followed him, Jesus designated twelve to be closest to him, to share and continue his mission. He took very seriously the formation of this group of twelve apostles, praying an entire night beforehand (Luke 6: 12-16; Mark 3:13-19). But at a certain moment, Jesus realized that one of the twelve, Judas, had changed his attitude. Jesus understood that Judas was becoming distant from him, and even saw that he was going to “hand him over,” as the gospels put it. According to John’s gospel, Jesus understood what was happening already in Galilee, long before the events in Jerusalem that would bring him to the cross (John 6:70-71). Why then did he not send Judas away? Why did he keep him close to him until the end? Let us know what the scriptures say about this:
2.0 BECAUSE IT WAS GOD’S WILL
In Romans 9:21-24 and 2 Timothy 2:20-21 we read that “not all will be saved, that some are created as vessels for honour, others for common use”. At the same time Judas’ selection was according to God’s plan. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” (John 5:19-20) Jesus was joining His Father at work. Judas was part of God’s plan. Although every opportunity was given to Judas to accept Jesus as his Saviour. “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’ “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:18-23)
3.0 PROPHECIES TO BE FULFILLED
In Acts 1:16, the Apostle Peter applies these words to Judas: “Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus”. About 800 years before Jesus ministry, King David foretold the betrayal of the Messiah, it says “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me”. (Psalms 41:9) Moreover, he says “It is not an enemy who taunts me – I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me – I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you – my equal, my companion and close friend.” (Psalms 55:12-13). These prophecies were fulfilled, which have the evidences in Luke 22:21-22, 47b (‘But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray Me…); Mark 14: 10-11 (And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.); John 13:18, 21, 26 (Jesus said, ‘It is the one to whom I give the bread dipped in the sauce.’ And when He had dipped it, He gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.”); and Matthew 26:47, 49-50a (So Judas came straight to Jesus. ‘Greetings, Teacher!’ he exclaimed and gave Him the kiss. Jesus said, ‘My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.’)
Zechariah’s prophecy is shown to be another most remarkable. It constitutes a collection of amazing details presented more than five centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ. It stands tall as an amazing example of the divine origin of the Scriptures. “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.” (Zechariah 11:12) This is a stunning text; indeed, it is a powerful example of the minute details that characterize the prophetic literature of the Bible. Zechariah, speaking on behalf of the promised Messiah, makes the following points. The precise number of coins was prophetically declared- “thirty pieces of silver.” The amount is not incidental. Thirty pieces of silver, under the Mosaic law, was the price to be paid to remedy the damage done to a slave that had been gored by a neighbour’s ox (Exodus 21:32). Here’s the significance. Christ went to the cross as the “servant” of God (doulos- a slave, Philippians 2:7). The Lord, in fact, was a servant “wounded” by the nails of the crucifixion brutality (Isaiah 53:5). To many of the Jews, he was expendable, mere “damaged goods” in the assessment of his enemies, “rejected indeed of men, but with God elect” (1 Peter 2:4). This prophecy was fulfilled, which have the evidences in Matthew 26:14-16 (“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver”); and Mathew 27:3-4a (…So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and other leaders. ‘I have sinned,’ he declared, ‘for I have betrayed an innocent man’)
Zachariah’s prophecy also indicated that money would be returned, cast in to God’s House and purchase of Potter’s Field. “And the Lord said unto me, cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” (Zechariah 11:13). These prophecies were also fulfilled are recorded carefully. Matthew’s record reveals that Judas, in a swoon of regret, brought back the coinage to the chief priests and elders. But they would have none of it. Their superficial religiosity would not allow the temple treasury to be contaminated with blood money. How commendable was their devotion; bloody hands recoiled at “blood money”! Then Judas “cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary” (Matthew 27:5). The term “sanctuary” (naos) denotes the sacred edifice containing the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, in contrast to the outer courts of the temple area. Since Judas would not have been allowed in the priestly area, it is likely that he approached as close as he could and then flung the money into the sacred area – as if this “gift” could be a substitute for genuine repentance! Nonetheless, prophecy fulfilled. Matthew also explains that the chief priests took the money and purchased a “potter’s field,” which would serve as a burial place for strangers. This likely was an area where clay for pottery was extracted from the earth, or perhaps a dump where broken shards finally were discarded. This was the land where Judas hanged himself (Matthew 27:5) and fell to his death; he burst open and all his bowels split out. All the people living in Jerusalem heard about it, and so in their own language they called that field “Akeldama”, which means “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19). It most assuredly was cheap land. At the time Matthew penned his Gospel record (some twenty to thirty years after Christ’s death), the place was still known as “the field of blood” (Matthew 27:8; Acts 1:18-19).
4.0 GOD’S WORD IS IRREVERSIBLE
One of the words used by Jesus to speak of the creation of the group of the twelve apostles gives us a clue. “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71; see also 13:18.) The verb to choose is a key word in Bible history. God chose Abraham, and then chose Israel to become the chosen people. It is God’s choice or election that forms God’s people, the people of the covenant. What makes the covenant unbreakable is that God chooses to love Abraham and his descendants for ever. The apostle Paul comments on this: “God’s gifts and call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28-32). Because Jesus chose the twelve just as God chose his people, he could not send Judas away even when he realized that he was going to betray him. He knew that he had to love him to the end, to show that God’s choice was irrevocable. The prophets, Hosea and Jeremiah in particular, spoke in the name of a God wounded and humiliated by the betrayals of his people, but who nevertheless never stopped loving them with eternity’s love (Hosea 11: 1-10; Jeremiah 31: 1-10). Jesus did not wish to do less, nor could he do so: humiliated by the treason of one of his closest companions, he kept on showing him his love. By lowering himself before his disciples to wash their feet, he made himself the servant of all, Judas included. (John 13:1-20)
5.0 JESUS DIDN’T COME TO DO AWAY WITH THE LAW BUT TO FULFIL IT
The boy Jesus in the temple answered them, “Why did you have to look for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) In John 3:16 Jesus said, he was about his father’s business. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with – not until the end of all things”.
6.0 JESUS LOVED JUDAS AND WAS REACHING OUT TO JUDAS
Jesus was well aware when He choose Judas that he would betray him. That didn’t stop Jesus from loving him and reaching out to him. Every opportunity was given to Judas to accept salvation from Jesus. “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) This was true also among His disciples. None were righteous. Not one of them! None could boast of their own merits. Everyone received the opportunity to know Jesus personally and be saved, Judas included. Many of Jesus’ followers turned back because they didn’t believe in him (John 6:4) and would not go with him anymore (John 6:66), and Peter denied Him with swearing and cursing! Yet when Jesus looked at Peter, he ran, repented, and was truly reborn. (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27) When Jesus chose Judas, he knew that eventually Judas would betray him. That didn’t stop Him from loving him and reaching out to him. Every opportunity was given to Judas for him to get to know Jesus intimately. However, Judas had a choice to make. Accept Jesus or follow his own desires. It’s interesting to notice that not once did Judas refer to Jesus as “Lord”. The highest title he ever gave to Jesus was “Rabbi”, or teacher. Judas never once had truly accepted Jesus as His Lord and Saviour. The question then remains: How could Jesus feel sorry for Judas? This was the man that delivered Him to His death! Jesus told us a lesson that we should all understand – hate the sin, love the sinner. Sin is of the devil, but the sinner has a soul, and one that we should treasure and cherish. To love the sinner is not to excuse what they are doing, but to make every effort to help make their souls right with God (do what’s in their best interest). It’s not unreasonable to say that even in the face of His accusers, Jesus desperately wished that Judas would repent of what he had done and turn to Life (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16). However, Judas went and hanged himself. Perhaps he did not know that he was forgiven after he repented. This would make sense because he never seemed to grasp the portent of the Messiah as the Lamb, only the Conquerer. What if Judas had the understanding and trust-faith that Jesus would have forgiven him even then, and gone with Peter for confession and rebirth? Would Jesus have forgiven Judas? What was Jesus saying to the soldiers that nailed him to the cross, and they hadn’t even asked for forgiveness! If Judas also repented in true sense, just as Peter and others did, it would have been a great story!
7.0 NO PARTIALITY- JESUS LOVED JUDAS EQUALLY AMONG THE TWELVE
Judas walked with Jesus for three years. He saw the greatest life ever lived up close and personal. You can’t have a better model of faith than Jesus or a better environment for forming faith than Judas had in walking with the Saviour. Authority had been given to him though, as well to all the other disciples. “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8) Judas had experienced the power of God in his life. It seemed to anyone who met him that he was one of the faithful followers of Christ. However, Scriptures warn us, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23) Driving out demons and performing miracles in the name of the Lord does not necessarily mean that we are saved!
8.0 OPPORTUNITY TO GROW TOGETHER- PARABLE OF THE SEEDS AND WEEDS
Jesus alluded to this fact in his parable of the seeds and weeds: “Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?” (Matthew 13:27) Jesus answer: “An enemy did this, he replied.” (Matthew 13:28) Now we may be tempted to uproot those weeds from among our midst. Wouldn’t we react like the servants? The servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull them up?” (Matthew 13:28) Jesus is very clear on that as well. “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” (Matthew 13:29-30)
It isn’t our job to do the weeding among our midst. God wants to give every opportunity to those who are considered “weeds” to get to know Him and accept Him in their life. However, a time will come where their time is up, and if they continue in their stubborn streak of remaining “weeds”, they will be uprooted at harvest time, when Jesus will return to our planet.
Are you a weed or are you a seed? Prayerfully consider this. It isn’t too late to give your heart to Jesus. Jesus choose Judas because He was well aware that there would be always Judas’ in our midst. He set us an example to accept them the way they are and to love them, pointing their way to the cross. EVERYONE has betrayed Jesus as least as much as Judas did. Judas was and is still one of us! The Son of Man will die, just as the Scriptures say. But it is going to be TERRIBLE for the one who betrays me. That man would be better off if he had NEVER BEEN BORN.” (Mark 14:21) When judgment will come, Judas will be unable to accuse God for not caring, for not trying to reach out to him. The same is true for you and me my friend. Jesus loves you. He died for you. What will you do with it? Will you follow Judas’ footsteps and lead a selfish life of hardship and confusion, a life that eventually will lead you to your own destruction? Or would you prefer to follow Peter’s footsteps, and although he was far from perfect, he followed in Jesus’ footsteps and was saved for eternity. What choice will you make? Invite Jesus in your heart now.