A reader asks, "Why did the Lord choose Judas to be a disciple if his heart was not right with God?" To answer this question, we need first of all to underscore two important points. First, Jesus knew that Judas was an ungodly traitor. He knew this at the Last Supper, and He told him so (John 13:18, 21, 26-27). Christ knew this even when He fed the 5,000 in Galilee: "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70). In fact, "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him" (John 6:64). Clearly, Christ was under no illusions about Judas; He knew that he was an unbeliever and that he would betray Him. Second, Jesus chose Judas to be one of the twelve without any compulsion. Jesus called "unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve" (Mark 3:13-14).
So why did Jesus choose Judas in full knowledge that he would betray Him? The general answer is that it was God’s will, what God wanted Christ to do. Thus Jesus said, "as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do" (John 14:31) and "the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works ... I do" (John 5:36). So the question now is, Why did God want a traitor amongst the twelve disciples?
First, Christ chose Judas Iscariot (who was to betray Him) in order to fulfill prophecy. Jesus knew Psalm 41:9 and announced, "the scripture [must] be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me" (John 13:18). Christ was mindful of Psalm 109 (called "Psalmus Ischarioticus" by the Latin fathers) and so declared, "none of them [i.e., the twelve disciples] is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). The Old Testament predicted that the Messiah would be betrayed by a intimate friend who ate with Him (Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14, 20-21) and so Jesus appointed "twelve, that they should be with him" (Mark 3:14). In David’s prophetic prayer concerning the traitor, he says, "Set thou a wicked [one] over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand" (Ps. 109:6) and so we read that Judas was a "devil" (John 6:70) who had Satan for his counselor ("at his right hand"), who entered into Judas and led him to betray Christ (John 13:2, 27).
Second, Jesus chose the traitor Judas, for Judas had a key role in leading Him to the cross. After Christ’s high priestly prayer (John 17) and His agonies in the garden, the traitor brought "a great multitude with swords and staves" to arrest Him (Matt. 26:47). Jesus told the multitude that He could call upon the Father who would immediately send Him more than twelve legions of angels, "But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matt. 26:53-54). Then we read, "But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled" (Matt. 26:56). At this time Christ also commanded Peter, "Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). Thus Jesus chose Judas as a disciple, for it was through Judas that God would convey to Christ the cup of His wrath against the sins of His elect, which cup Jesus must drink on the cross for our salvation. We shall consider this important subject further next time (DV).
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 23
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851