Did Judas Have a Choice?
The New Testament indicates that Jesus Christ, the Savior of humankind, was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by Judas, one of his trusted disciples. The betrayal led to the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Many have wondered if Judas had a choice in the matter, or if predestination caused him to commit the betrayal that would forever change humanity.
The Hebrew name "Judah" means "praise God." Translated into Greek, "Judah" becomes "Judas." The last name of Judas is a surname, which indicates the place he lived. Iscariot (Man of Kerioth) points to the Jordan River's West Bank, which bore a Palestinian city. Judas was the child of Simon Iscariot or Simon from Iscariot (John 6:71). The name Iscariot indicates southern Judah and the notion that Judas was from Judea. The other disciples were from Galilee. This situation seems to symbolize the idea that although Judas was with and among the disciples from the very beginning, he still may not have been a true disciple.
The name Iscariot indicates southern Judah and the notion that Judas was from Judea. The other disciples were from Galilee.
For the Love of Money
Although he was one of the twelve original disciples, the possibility of Judas being the only one not from Galilee left room for a twinge of resentment to enter into his heart. Any bitter notions of unfair treatment that Judas may have harbored should have disappeared when the group gave him the position of treasurer. Being treasurer of the group should have helped Judas to realize that the other disciples trusted and fully accepted him. However, Judas' responsibility generated two different grains of seed inside of him, and he could only allow one or the other to take root and grow. One seed, if allowed to take root and grow, would show appreciation and foster feelings of love and loyalty toward Jesus and the disciples. The other grain, if allowed to take root and grow, would open the way for deception, misdirection, and the love of money. As the Bible notes in 1 Timothy 6:10, "For the love of money is the root of all evil..."(ESV).
Judas chose to allow the love of money to take root inside of his inner being. At first, Judas may have genuinely wanted to follow Jesus and believe His teachings. When he allowed the love of money to take root and grow, it chocked out faith in Jesus and opened the way for enemies of God to bring sorrows to Judas that no ordinary human could bear. The Bible goes on to say that craving money can cause some people to wander into disbelief and to become "pierced...through with many sorrows" 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV).
Who Was Judas Following?
Matthew 6:24 clearly states, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money" (NIV). When he chose to love money, Judas began to display contempt for the way that Jesus was running things. In John 12, at a dinner held in Jesus' honor, Judas protested a decision that Jesus made. Jesus was sitting at the dinner table with Lazarus, the man he raised from the dead. Mary, one of Lazarus' sisters, took a considerable amount of costly ointment, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped his feet with her hair. Judas objected by stating that the perfume was worth a fortune. He exclaimed that it was best to sell expensive ointment and then give the money to the poor (John 12:5).
When he chose to love money, Judas began to display contempt for the way that Jesus was running things.
Judas, however, was only putting on a front. He simply regretted not having more money to take for himself. "He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it" (John 12:6 ESV). By allowing a toxic root to grow and fester inside of him, Judas became a thief looking out for himself. By focusing on money, Judas lost the proper direction that comes from God. In essence, he began to follow Satan. When he abandoned God's guidance, Judas allowed Satan, the enemy of God, to lead him down the road of treachery and deceit. Jesus could see what had become of Judas' heart. Jesus knew that the person to fulfill his prophetic betrayal for thirty pieces of silver was Judas (Zechariah 11:12-14).
The Fruit of a Bad Seed
On September 12, 1956, Warner Brothers released an American psychological film thriller titled The Bad Seed.
In the movie, Patty McCormack plays the part of Rhoda Penmark. Rhoda appears to be a sweet, charming, and innocent eight-year-old dream child on the outside. However, inwardly see is a bad seed full of all kinds of evil. Rhoda will do anything to achieve her selfish motives and get what she wants.
In the film, Rhoda ends up killing her pet dog, one of her classmates, and two adults. The movie reveals that the seed of evil was inherited genetically and formed in Rhoda from birth. As a result, all kinds of evil take root and grow because of Rhoda's development from a bad seed.
Seeds produce fruit. Galatians 5:22 says the fruit that comes from a good seed is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Bad seeds produce the fruit of selfish ambition, which leads to theft, impurity, and debauchery (Galatians 5:19-21). Rhoda and Judas were both formed from "bad seeds." Bad seeds can not help but produce bad fruit.
Was There Hope for Judas?
After betraying Jesus, Judas had the opportunity to turn his life around despite his dastardly deed. Jesus died for everyone, including Judas. However, Judas had to repent first and then ask for forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9 (KJV). His mind had become so twisted with selfishness that Judas could not see that God could help him no matter the situation.
Judas had seen others try and fail to kill Jesus. He knew that Jesus could successfully walk through aggressors unscathed. When that did not happen this time, remorse inundated Judas. Instead of asking God for help, Judas tried to resolve his horrendous situation on his own and ended up hanging himself. "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders...Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself," Matthew 27:3-5 (NIV).
Although his name means "praise God," the deeds of Judas appear to be just the opposite. However, we can praise and thank God for the powerful lessons that he gives to us through the life of Judas. We should be careful not to appear as one person on the outside and be a different person on the inside. The experience of Judas shows that it is possible to be in the midst of God's people regularly and still not be fully committed to the ways of God.
Although his name means "praise God," the deeds of Judas appear to be just the opposite. However, we can praise and thank God for the powerful lessons that he gives to us through the life of Judas.
Dr. Roger Barrier, a retired senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona, gives a marvelous analogy about predestination as it relates to free choice. In a card game, all players receive a dealt hand. When we come into this life, God provides every one of us with a predetermined hand. Additionally, we are allowed to play that hand. With the freedom to choose how we play our stack of cards, the results of our lives come from how we play the cards given to us.
We can not change the dealt hand that God gives us. However, we have the freedom to choose how we react to the things that happen in our lives. God deals all of us a hand. He watches us as we play it. However, he also wants us to ask Him for wisdom, strength, stamina and will power to play our hand correctly. Judas did have a choice. Just like all of us, he had the opportunity to choose how to play the predestinated hand that he received.
Predestination or Choice
Was Judas' Betrayal, Predestination, or Choice?
Barrier, R. (2014, August 28). Did Judas Have a Choice, or Was He Predestined to Betray Jesus? Retrieved from https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/ask-roger/did-judas-have-a-choice-or-was-he-predestined-to-betray-jesus.html
BibleStudyTools Staff, B. S. T. S. (2018, July 20). Judas Betrays Jesus - Bible Story. Retrieved n.d., from https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/judas-betrayed-jesus-bible-story.html
Did Judas have a choice on whether he would betray Jesus? | Yahoo Answers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=AwrC3J8y3yhe_EIAASIPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMDgyYjJiBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw--?qid=20080219165347AA7ujMT
DRISKELL, R. (n.d.). Judas Iscariot: Bible Story and Profile. Retrieved from https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/judas-iscariot-bible-story-and-profile/
Green, A. (2018, August 26). Did Judas really have no choice but to betray Jesus? Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Did-Judas-really-have-no-choice-but-to-betray-Jesus
Roat, A. (2019, June 21). Who Was Judas Iscariot? Retrieved from https://www.christianity.com/wiki/people/who-was-judas-iscariot.html
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