Matthew 26:24 “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.”
Just because God knows we’re going to do something doesn’t mean He forces us to do that. God knew before the creation of the universe that Judas would betray Jesus, but that doesn’t mean Judas was a pawn. The whole issue of predestination/free will is a logical conundrum that has caused countless arguments over the centuries, and is the biggest factor in one of the major divisions in the Church today, between Arminianism and Calvinism. However today, churches of both those traditions are going apostate over moral issues, so the futility of such arguments is obvious. As my Systematic Theology professor stressed, if our theology doesn’t affect the way we live and make us more like Jesus, it is meaningless. We are always in a tension between the sovereignty of God and our personal responsibility. Taking either lightly leads to major problems. The contrast between Judas and Peter is very instructive here. Judas never said he didn’t know Jesus, but he led soldiers to arrest Him. He then realized he had done wrong, but instead of casting himself on God’s mercy, he tried to take care of it himself, by returning the money he had received and then killing himself. There are those who try to make a case for Judas, saying that he was wanting Jesus to be in a situation where He would have to demonstrate His power as the Son of God, rather than simply as the Son of Man. That in no way excuses Judas, because it means he was trying to control God. By extension, he was putting himself in God’s place, and desiring to do that is what got Satan thrown out of heaven. Even in remorse he tried to deal with it on his own, instead of submitting fully to God. Peter, on the other hand, said repeatedly that he didn’t know Jesus, out of fear for his own skin, but there was real humility in his repentance, and as a result he had a private audience with Jesus after the resurrection, (1 Corinthians 15:5) and his ministry after that is well known. We are to walk in consistent humility, knowing that God is God but also that our actions make a difference, for ourselves and for others. Rather than making theological points, we need to be focused on grateful obedience.
I was aware of various theological disputes even before I went to seminary, and I am deeply grateful to have studied Systematic Theology under Dr. John Kewiet. In the years since then I have been grieved, not only by the disputes but especially by how members of the Body of Christ have allowed such disagreements to become walls between them. Such things go to absurd degrees. I am to be focused on Christ Jesus my Lord, not thinking that I have a monopoly on Him or that what I believe about Him is wrong, but seeking always to press in to know more of Him, allowing His Spirit to transform me into His likeness. Like Paul, I’m to rest in the knowledge of Whom I have believed, and walk in grateful obedience. (2 Timothy 1:12)
Father, thank You for this reminder. I know full well that I can’t keep it all straight on my own. Thank You for the assurance that You can and will keep me straight if I will walk with You as You have said, (Micah 6:8) for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!