26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? NIV
Jesus chose twelve men, designated apostles, to learn from him in a special way. Among these twelve was his betrayer, Judas Iscariot. As Jesus began to preach his message of the kingdom of heaven, he had a group of disciples or students (Mark 3:7) who followed him about. From them he chose the twelve (Mark 3:13-14). That is, he chose the twelve apostles from among those who were already following him (also Luke 6:12-13). This means that Peter, James. Matthew, Judas, and each of the others had already been Jesus’ students, before they were chosen (again, see John 1:35-51 for examples). In fact, it is apparent that each of the apostles had been disciples of John the Baptizer even before becoming disciples of Jesus (Acts 1:21-22, Acts 10:97,39).
As apostles of the Lord, these men had special opportunities. They came to the Lord as sinners (Luke 5:8), and each had definite character flaws and weaknesses, as do we all. From time to time each of them was rebuked for either their thoughts or their actions (Peter, Matt. 16:23; Judas, John 12:47; James and John, Luke 9:54-55; all twelve, Mark 9:33-37). Their character flaws and sins could be corrected by their obedience to the will of Jesus, but he never forced that obedience upon them, nor did he hinder obedience to those commands, but said that they obeyed or not according to whether or not they loved him (John 14:15, 21). Jesus indicated that each of the twelve had the capacity to understand those instructions he gave, where many of their contemporaries had already closed their minds (Matt. 13:10-11, 16-17). Both with the crowds and with the twelve, Jesus was giving them all that was appropriate, and everything they were capable of receiving (Mark 4:33- 34).
Judas Iscariot is identified as a thief in John’s gospel. He was undoubtedly a thief before Jesus called him from among the disciples to be an apostle. It would be absurd to think he became a thief only after joining the chosen group, led by the greatest teacher of morality that ever lived (see John 12:6 on Judas being a thief). Judas may have initially laid aside his thievery when exposed to the teachings of John and Jesus on repentance (Mark 1:4, 14, 15), but if so his determination waned. If Judas could not stick by his repentance while with Jesus, then he surely would have persisted in thievery without him, which led to a certain end (Mtt. 27:38, Mark 15:27), namely cruel execution. Judas was graphically reminded of his own guilt by the question Jesus asked of the mob he led, “are you come out as against a thief?” (Matt. 26:55, although the NIV says “leading rebellion” the Greek word is same as “robbers” in Matt. 21:13, 27:38). Yet even in this face to face reminder that Jesus knew his heart, Judas pressed on with his wretched betrayal. Judas’ best chance had been with Jesus. but he had become hardened to the point that he could not be reached, even by the Christ (as in Luke 16:31 and I Tim. 4:2). Judas had to realize at some level that Jesus knew his thoughts and activities (Matt. 9:4. Matt. 12:25, Matt. 16:8, Mark 9:33-35) even before the climactic confrontation in the garden. Yet neither a sense of guilt not fear of the Lord was sufficient to turn him from a path toward destruction. It is certain then that he would have proceeded toward destruction if the Lord had not called him and given him extra incentives to reform.
By refusing to obey the Lord, and so be saved, Judas became a specific fulfillment of some general prophecies. In his speech in Acts 1:20 Peter quoted Psalm 69:25 and 109:8 in reference to Judas, because he specifically fit the pattern described in those Psalms. However, Judas was neither the first nor the last man to fit such a pattern of stubborn persistence in evil. When David wrote those words he knew men who fit that pattern, and we may know people who meet the same description even now. Judas was not forced into that pattern, but having chosen a path of scorn and enmity against the servant of God, it was inevitable that the rest of the pattern should be fulfilled in him (see Psalm 69:12, 14, 18-28). This fulfillment is the same sort of process as that described in Matthew 12:25-32, Hebrews 6:4-8, and 2 Peter 2:22, regarding blasphemy against the Holy Spirit or being enlightened and then falling away. These are the ones who know the truth but refuse to live by it. God does not force anyone to live by the truth, but lets everyone, including Judas, choose how they will live. God warns all of the consequences of their choices, but compels none to obey. Judas certainly had full and adequate warning of the consequences of his choices in Jesus’ teachings. Thus we read that Judas “fell headlong” and “burst open” (Acts 1:18), which is perhaps more of a description of the attitude that brought about his downfall than of the means of his death, which was suicide by hanging (Matthew 27:5). Judas seems, in his final decision of self-destruction, to have demonstrated his continuing failure to repent rather than merely regret (see 2 Corinthians 7:10).
When Jesus chose Judas from the disciples to be an apostle, he certainly knew what Judas’ choices would be further down the road (note John 6:70-71). He knew what would become of Judas if he was called to be an apostle, and he knew what would happen if he wasn’t called. Because of the Lord’s nature and purpose, desiring life and salvation for all (2 Peter 3:9, 15) and calling sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32, 19:10), we must conclude that Judas was not worse off because Jesus chose him, but rather that he had his best opportunity for salvation in the very presence of the Lord, and he stubbornly rejected that opportunity. Judas was given every opportunity and every conceivable reason to repent, with undeniable evidence to confirm Jesus’ teaching and demonstrate his authority, and yet he did not truly repent. Instead, he refused him who spoke (Hebrews 12:25) and so could not escape the consequences of his own sin.Share this article: