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JUDAS: If Jesus knew the betrayal, why did he choose Judas as an Apostle?

If Jesus knew the betrayal, why did he choose Judas as an Apostle?

From the beginning, Jesus knew who did not believe and who would betray him. Jesus selected Judas Iscariot as one of his apostles, probably honoring his desire to follow Jesus. A vocation is one’s own choice and God’s selection. Jesus knew Judas would betray him even when he joined the company of the twelve. In John 6:70-71, we read, “‘Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?’ He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.” Still, Jesus accepted him to that key position probably for the following reasons:

1. Fulfilment of the prophecy on the betrayal of the Messiah
The betrayal of Jesus by a disciple of his inner circle was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jesus’ Passion. That would add to the mental agony Jesus accepted, along with his physical torture. He received such a heartbreak for fulfilling the prophecy. Psalm 41:10 recites, “Even my trusted friend, who ate my bread, has raised his heel against me.” Jesus referred to this in John 13:18; 17:12, Matthew 26:24, Mark 14:21. Peter mentioned this in his speech after the Ascension of the Lord to 120 followers of Jesus (Acts 1:16). He also linked the purchase of Akeldama to Psalm 69:26 and replacement of Judas to Psalm 109:8 (Acts 1:20). The betrayal for thirty pieces of silver has reference to Zechariah 11:12-13.

2. Judas might have been an upright man when he followed Jesus.
The life of Judas is proof that the good can become bad and vice versa. Judas might have followed Jesus with a genuine intention. Jesus did not reject him when he expressed his desire to become a disciple. Though Jesus knew the development of worldly inclinations in Judas, Jesus accommodated him because, as Jesus himself claimed, he came to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance (Mt 9:13). He gave Judas the opportunity to know him intimately. Along with the other eleven disciples, Jesus allowed him to drive out unclean spirits and to cure every disease and every illness (Mt 10:1-2). He had seen and experienced who Jesus was and had an opportunity for salvation from Jesus. Judas had the freedom to choose either the way of Jesus or to gratify his own desires. When he was entrusted with the financial management, he “used to steal the contributions” (Jn 12:6). Money became an obsession for him, and his interests shifted to selfish motives. Satan, who misguided Eve (Gen 3:1-7) sneaked into him (Lk 22:3).

3. The betrayal was a choice of Judas ignoring Jesus’ teachings.
The chief priests and the Scribes were seeking a way to assassinate Jesus because of his popularity and noncompliance with them. Understanding this, Judas approached the chief priests and temple guards to support them for the sake of money. God gives us the freedom to do good or evil. Judas preferred the wrong way, ignoring Jesus’ teaching, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:19-21).

4. Jesus gave enough warning to Judas for escape if he wanted.
Jesus did not select Judas as a betrayer and his betrayal was not Jesus’ intention. It was Judas’ own choice.

Jesus gave Judas several warnings so he could correct himself.

(A). When Jesus taught about the Holy Eucharist, many of his disciples left him. Then Jesus asked the apostles whether they also wanted to leave. Simon Peter then professed faith in Jesus as the “Holy One of God.” The response of Jesus was, “‘Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?’ He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve” (Jn 6:66-71).

(B). When Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, he said, “‘You are clean, but not all. For he knew who would betray him” (Jn 13:10b-11).

(C). At the Last Supper, while Judas Iscariot was present, “Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me’” (Jn 13:21). When John asked, “‘Master, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’ So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (Jn 13:25-27). On the same occasion, Jesus said, “‘The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.’ Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, ‘Surely it is not I, Rabbi?’ He answered, ‘You have said so’” (Mt 26:24-25).

Judas ignored these warnings because he was blinded by his worldly desires. He could not escape from that addiction. Jesus did not adopt a negative approach to Judas because he allows the weeds to grow along with the seeds (Mt 13:26-30). Even when Judas came with the soldiers and kissed Jesus, his response was kind, “Friend, do what you have come for” (Mt 26:50). Such an unrevengeful approach might have prompted Judas to realize his sin and to confess, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood” (Mt 27:4). Unlike Peter, who repented (Mt 26:75), Judas deeply regretted (Mt 27:3) his mistake. “Regret is a feeling of remorse that is a negative emotion as it leads one to think continuously about his past action or behaviour and causes more shame, guilt, anger, disappointment, etc. Repentance is a positive emotion as it makes one learn about one’s mistake, and one vows not to repeat it in the future” (https://www.differencebetween.com/difference- between-regret-and-vs-repentance).

Because of adverse circumstances or misuse of freedom, people might commit sin. However, Jesus offers us opportunities to repent. Judas chose the wide path for worldly goals that ended up in self-destruction. Though Peter denied his discipleship three times, he made use of Jesus’ generosity to forgive the sinner. Let us follow Peter’s approach when we fall.


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