Blessed… On Free Will

47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, came. With him was a large crowd carrying swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 His betrayer had given them a sign: “Arrest the man I kiss.” 49 Just then he came to Jesus and said, “Hello, Rabbi.” Then he kissed him.

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came and grabbed Jesus and arrested him (Matthew 26:47-50, Common English Bible).

Some argue that in our lesson for today Judas didn’t have a choice. It was his destiny to betray Jesus. It was the reason he was placed on earth.

That thinking would mean that Judas’ whole purpose in life was to betray Jesus. It was the only reason he was placed on the earth.

Those who believe in predestination would say, “Yes, that is correct. Judas was predestined to betray Jesus.”

I have a great deal of trouble with that line of theological thought. If God is love, and Scripture in 1 John tells us that is the case, then how could “love” predestine a person to carry out an act that is evil?

The way I see it, Judas had a choice. To say Judas had no choice then we are left with two alternatives. Either God is directly responsible, because God pulls all the strings, for evil in the world, or God cannot exist. I reject both ideas.

When we read the Gospel narrative, Judas had devoted a significant portion, three years, of his life to following Jesus whom he believed to be the Messiah. Judas has an epiphany of sorts. He came to realize Jesus could not be the Messiah because, in Hebrew understanding, the Messiah was going to come and throw the hated Romans out of the country. Here we find Jesus, not only talking about his death, he is talking about his death by the hands of the Romans. He can’t be the Messiah if he is dead, can he?

Actually, Judas was right in that assumption. What Judas never understood was the idea of resurrection, the idea of overcoming death. Jesus had to die in order to rise again. You can’t have Easter without Good Friday.

So, coming to a conclusion in his mind that Jesus cannot be the Messiah, Judas decides he is going to have something to show for these last three years. He takes the money from the Pharisees and tells them where Jesus is and then, to make sure they knew the right man to arrest, Judas gives them a sign, he would kiss the man on the cheek.

When Judas is before Jesus, Jesus has a simple sentence to say, but in this sentence we see Jesus telling him to exercise his free will. “Do what you came here to do.” It isn’t, “Do what you have to do.” Do what you have to do would imply predestination. Do what you came here to do implies he had a choice, it implies free will. Or, at least that’s how I see it. Judas made the ultimate decision of free will. He betrayed Jesus.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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