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,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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