17 When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18 While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”
19 They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”
20 “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21 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.” Mark 14:17-21

Why did Jesus disclose Judas’ treachery before it happened? Was it an indication to His disciples that He was well aware of what was happening to Him? Was He showing them that all the unfolding events were part of the prophetic fingerprint of Messiah in the Old Testament? Was He giving Judas an opportunity to back out of his plan, yet knowing full well that it must be so? Although all the prophecies about Messiah would be fulfilled, that did not absolve Judas of the responsibility of his decision.

The disciples’ response to Jesus’ warning is puzzling. How could any of them be about to do something so heinous and not know it? Treachery is not something that happens by accident. The very fact that they didn’t know about it indicates their innocence, except one. He was well aware that he was already spearheading the plan but he kept quiet. What would the other disciples have done to him had they known?

Does Jesus’ conclusion indicate that for Judas, there was no possibility of repentance or forgiveness? “It would have been better for him if he had not been born.” Is He saying that Judas’ mind was so perverted and deceived that he would not understand God’s mercy in his situation? Peter was restored. Why not Judas? Was he so overwhelmed with the guilt of his action that he was driven by hopelessness to suicide?

How does one reconcile God’s will with human choice and responsibility? Scripture does not even try. This event is succinctly summarised in Acts 2:23, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross.” The sovereign God acts in human circumstances to carry out His plan by working through human choices without, in any way, detracting from human responsibility.

How does He do it? No one knows! This was the Apostle Paul’s conclusion…

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. Romans 11:33-36

That God is sovereign is an indisputable fact, and we can rest in the truth of His promise…

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In some mysterious way, God brings good out of everything, good or bad and fulfils His purpose to bring blessing and salvation out of man’s darkest moments.

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Luella Campbell

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