Q. The Bible says that God had willed the death of Jesus (John 3:16), that “Jesus (was) delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” in Acts 2:23 and Luke 22:22 which says “For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” On the surface it seems that Judas had no choice here. Would you please explain?
A. Knowing the future is not the same as controlling it. God knew Jesus would be betrayed, and even had David write about it 1,000 years in advance (Psalm 41:9). But Judas could not have known it referred to him, and made a free choice to act as he did. He didn’t realize he had betrayed the Lord until after the fact (Matt. 27:4).
God is not directing our actions from Heaven, nor has He programmed us in advance to behave a certain way. He has seen the future and knows what our choices and the accompanying consequences will be, even as we make them of our own free will. Otherwise the Lord could not have said, “The Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed” (Luke 22:22).
I believe God has a plan for our lives but He can’t implement His plan without our permission (Romans 12:1-2). And since He doesn’t want any of us to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), He couldn’t plan for us to act in a way that would prevent that. We have to choose to reject His plan for us by placing our will above His.
A. Piecing together various scriptures, it appears that Judas was never saved, and that Jesus might have chosen him knowing that Judas would betray Him. Here’s a quote from John’s Gospel. Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (John 6:70)
Prophecies tell of a betrayer as early as the Psalms. At the Last Supper Jesus gave a piece of bread to Judas, identifying him as the one after quoting Psalm 41:9. Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.(John 13:18) Earlier he had warned, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matt. 26:24)
The other disciples didn’t trust Judas. They were all Galilean except him, and maybe that’s part of the reason. But it certainly isn’t all. John’s recollection of the time when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume is a good example of their feelings about him. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:4-6)
So Judas wasn’t a believer, and Jesus knew he was the betrayer from the beginning. But most scholars agree that Judas acted out of his own free will in betraying Jesus. As to his motives, we have only speculation. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that had Judas asked to be forgiven before he hung himself, the Lord would have granted his request. But there’s no reason to believe that Judas ever asked.