Friday, July 30, 2010

JUDAS : Guilty of the Most Heinous Crime in History? or Victim of Divine Coersion?

Jesus said to him, "Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"

Judas' role in the crucifixion of Jesus has always been the subject of controversy and mystery. Some say that he should be regarded as a hero of the Christian Faith, because if it hadn't been for what he did, Christ's dying to save sinners wouldn't have happened. Is that really the case?

Was this a situation where the devil really did make him do it? Doesn't the bible say, "Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered with the twelve." (Luke 22:3 )

Some might think that Judas deserves an Academy Award for perfectly playing out the role that had been created and written for him by God, Himself. Or perhaps he ought to be exonerated for his betrayal of Christ because he was forced by Divine Providence to do something that he otherwise would not have done.

The "Rock Opera" Jesus Christ: Superstar portrays Judas as the rational one among Jesus and the disciples. In the story, he comes to realize that what started out as a great cause had taken a bad turn and they were headed for disaster. So he decides to take some kind of action to prevent the inevitable consequences of a plan gone really bad. We hear him saying to Jesus, "Every time I look at you, I don't understand how you let the things you did get so out of hand."

Christian theologian R.C. Sproul, addresses the question of how Judas could be held accountable for something that had been determined long ago and had been foretold in the Scriptures:

"Judas was not a poor innocent victim of divine manipulation. He was not a righteous man whom God forced to betray Christ and then punished him for the betrayal. Judas betrayed Christ because Judas wanted thirty pieces of silver. As the Scriptures declare, Judas was a son of perdition from the beginning.

"To be sure, God uses the evil inclinations and evil intentions of fallen men to bring about his own redemptive purposes. Without Judas there is no Cross. Without the cross there is no redemption. But this is not a case of God coercing evil. Rather it is a glorious case of God's redemptive triumph over evil. The evil desires of men's hearts cannot thwart God's sovereignty. Indeed they are subject to it."

Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.  (Luke 22:3-6)

"The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Rabbi, is it I?" He said to him, "You have said it."  (Matt 26:24-25)

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12)

I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me. (John 13:18)

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71)

Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; (Acts 1:16)

Scripture quotes from the NKJV (Thomas Nelson Publishers)
R.C. Sproul quote from the book, Chosen By God (Tyndall House Publishers, Inc.)


Pvblivs said...


     I found this from your comment on Ray Comfort's blog.
     You really haven't addressed the issue at all -- except to say not to think about it. Leaving aside my personal belief that the story is fiction, It just doesn't fit. If he wanted the thirty silvers, why did he discard them? This makes more sense if his free will was suspended and he discarded the silvers when he was again free to act of his own accord. It also makes sense if the bargaining for silver was part of an arranged act that he played.
     I think I may do a blog post of my own about this. said...

Thanks Pvblivs.

Well, if the issue is Judas' culpability in light of what he did having been foretold (and that is what seems to be the main objection from the commenters at Ray's blog), it certainly has been addressed. Judas was consistent in willing to do exactly what he was inclined to do. He was not moved by any external force to do anything.

He did sorrow later and threw back the silver, but his sorrow did not lead him to ask forgiveness, which Jesus was freely giving out right and left at the time, and surely it was available to Judas had he asked for it. He chose to commit suicide instead.

Now, if you are wondering how the two things work together, i.e. God's "determinite counsel" and Judas' (and our) responsibility, there is some mystery there; not all the blanks are filled in. But it cannot be said that the bible doesn't teach that God is absolutely sovereign while at the same time man is responsible.

This comes into play with Jesus too, doesn't it. His going to the cross to die was foretold in scripture, yet in Gethsemane didn't he say that he had more than twelve legions of angels available to him had he chosen to pray to his Father and ask for them?