Did Judas fall away from belief? Did he trick Jesus? Why was he chosen to be a disciple?
18 I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘ He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ 19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”
I think this is another difficult passage for us to accept. On its own, verse 18 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We must rewind a bit to see what Jesus is referring to. You would think by now, the disciples are used to Jesus’ unusual teachings and tactics, but He keeps surprising them. They are getting ready to eat and he girds Himself as a servant and washes their feet. Then He starts talking about confession, forgiveness, and mentions that there is at least one among them who is not loyal. He assures them (and us), though that he “knows the ones He has chosen.” What does this mean?
I believe that too often we assume Judas was a “bad egg.” He fell away from the faith, stole from the money pot, and sold Jesus at a low price. We use the story of Judas to describe the sinfulness of man, the deceit and lust of worldliness, and the price that it cost Jesus. We neglect that Jesus here tells us that Judas was chosen on purpose. Jesus knew from the beginning what would happen, and in fact, He picked Judas because He knew what would happen. Just think, the salvation of the world could not have occurred if Judas had not betrayed Him.
For myself, this puts into better perspective the people I have met or dealt with that seemingly “fall away” or give into the “lusts and desires of this world.” It saddens most of us when this happens. However, God knew it was going to happen. Furthermore, God uses it for His purpose and for the ultimate good. To be clear, God didn’t cause Judas to do this, nor did He encourage Him to do so. Rather, He foreknew the heart of this man and used it for good.
In today’s world of atrocities against our fellow man and woman, I have to trust and believe that while God doesn’t approve of these things, that He has it under control. It might not seem that way to us, and I’m sure it didn’t seem that way to the disciples, who already confessed to believing Jesus is the Son of God and the prophesied Messiah. I’m quite sure His followers felt like all hope was lost when He was crucified. The whole point of Judas’ betrayal, as Jesus explains, is that the whole world may know that Jesus is the Christ. There will be a day when every knee shall bow and every mouth will confess that Jesus is Lord. We might not understand how or even why the things happening today will lead to it. When the moment comes again that all hope is lost of Jesus’ return and God’s power over all, that will be the day that He proves all His glory to the world and nobody will doubt or question.