Freewill is hard to grasp, because many would like to blame life and eternity on God’s choices not our own. As you look at Judas and his choices there has to be some part of you that says, “Why?” Today, we have to trust by faith that the stories we read in the Bible are accurate and true. Although we can hear and feel the Holy Spirit, Judas was literally walking and talking with Jesus, the Son of God. He was watching all the miracles first hand. For some bizarre reason Judas chose evil over God. The oddest thing to me is that Judas chose to feel remorse but not repent.
Judas: the hard-hearted apostate
Judas chose to follow Jesus: Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: 4 Judas Iscariot the one who betrayed Him. Matthew 10: 1-2a and 4
Judas chose to steal from Jesus: Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people? Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. John 12: 3-6
Judas chose to plot against Jesus: The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. They were glad and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd. Luke 22: 2-6
Judas chose to betray Jesus: While He was still speaking, behold Judas one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. Matthew 26: 47-49
Judas chose to feel remorse but not repentance: Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” and he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed and he went away and hanged himself. Matthew 27: 3-5
Before you get your self stirred up about Judas’ declaration with the chief priest, let me put it in terms you will understand. It would be like all of us robbing a bank. Afterwards, while you are watching the news, you realized, “Man I can spend the rest of my life in jail.” So, you come back to the ones that did the crime with you and confess how wrong you were. If Judas wanted to repent, he could have gone out in the crowd or to the court and confessed his crime. Like many in this world, Judas chose to do enough to make himself feel better about the situation without actually taking responsibility for his crime. The suicide was not repentance but one more act of “me.”
I had a friend that was dying from a terminal illness. Unfortunately, death was eluding her and she was suffering for years. She came to me to confess that she wanted to commit suicide. Being a converted Protestant from Catholic, she wanted to find a verse that allowed her to commit this act. As she searched the Bible looking for her answer, she fell upon the story of Judas. Here was her proclamation: “If Judas would have waited just three more days, he would have found complete forgiveness.” That conclusion helped her to continue to wait on God to bless her with death.
Jesus the Savior of the world
Jesus chose Judas to follow Him: As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. “We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve and yet on of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot for he one of the twelve was going to betray Him. John 6: 66-71
Jesus chose to stay on task: Therefore Jesus said, (to Judas) “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” John 12:7-8
Jesus chose to wash Judas’ feet: 5 Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” 8 Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” John 13: 5-11
Jesus chose to be betrayed: Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbit!” and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. Matthew 26: 49-50
Jesus chose to forgive: But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23: 34
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. John 10:11
As we continue to look at the death of Jesus, we can see the choices made by the thieves on the cross. This is the best view of someone that wants Jesus to forgive versus someone that just wants Jesus to remove him from his circumstances.
38 Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 38-43
You can see the first thief did not claim Jesus as God or ask to be forgiven in any form. Instead you see him question Jesus’ status and demanding to be saved out of his circumstances. The same hard-heart that put him on the cross was going to take him to his eternal death. The second thief immediately defended Jesus as God. After his declaration, he then confessed his guilt and claimed his sentence as just. His hard-heart became humbled and out of his humility he requested Jesus to remember him.
Pride keeps people in a hard-hearted state meaning they are incapable of being moved by any emotion other than selfish interest. Pride makes some people defend Judas as attempting to repent by giving back the coins. Pride makes some people accuse God of being cruel and unloving for not allowing multiple ways to get to heaven. Pride keeps one from understanding that choices are given to all but with those choices comes consequences.
19 People are judged by this fact: I am the Light from God that has come into the world. But men did not want light. They wanted darkness because they were doing evil things. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light. He will not come to the light because it will show all the evil things he has done. 21 But he who follows the true way comes to the light. Then the light will show that the things he has done were done through God.” John 3:19-21 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
Four people made choices in this Easter lesson. Two chose evil and two chose God. Look hard at the verses in John 3 and understand why these people choose the way they did. Look hard at your choices and understand why you are making the choices you are making.
- Judas chose to use Jesus till that choice held no more value. Even when Judas felt a little guilt, he did the bare minimum to attempt to make him self-feel good. Then when that did not work, Judas chose a selfish end.
- The first thief remained unremorseful till the bitter end. Even when he saw his fellow thief receive forgiveness from Jesus, he did not relinquish from his hard-hearted path.
- Jesus chose to have Judas as one of His followers knowing full well Judas’ heart desires. Every opportunity was given to Judas to follow another path. Even when Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was in full motion; Jesus chose to wash Judas’ feet and allowed him to continue with the twelve till the end. Jesus chose to forgive.
- The second thief chose a humble approach to Jesus. The thief did not request that Jesus save him from the cross but instead, acknowledged that he deserved his ending because he was guilty. What he did request from Jesus was that Jesus would remember him when Jesus came into His kingdom.
As you look at all those choices made during this world-changing event, you now have to make some choices for yourself. You can fill your thoughts with things you can do or you can just choose God. My recommendation would be to start with a humble heart.
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