“Things Jesus never said:
Judas, I wanted to let you know that my Father has predestined you to betray me, so it’s really not your fault.”
Rev. Duncan Bryant
This statement was made tongue in cheek but I thought I would answer it as if someone really did believe that because Judas was predestined to betray Christ therefore he it was really not his fault.
Turning to the matter at hand we know from Scripture that the final days of the life of Jesus on earth were foreordained to include the betrayal of Judas, just as were the cross and resurrection (Mark 14:17-21; Acts 1:16 and Psalm 109:5-8).
17 And in the evening He came with the twelve. 18 And as they sat and ate, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, one of you who eateth with Me shall betray Me.” 19 And they began to be sorrowful and to say unto Him one by one, “Is it I?” And another said, “Is it I?” 20 And He answered and said unto them, “It is one of the twelve that dippeth with Me in the dish. 21 The Son of Man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had never been born.”
Jesus went as it was written and every detail that led Jesus to the Cross was planned as well. Judas’ role was understood as ordained as seen by Peter’s words in Acts 1,
16 “Men and brethren, it was necessary that this Scripture be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spoke before concerning Judas, who was the guide to those who took Jesus.
In Psalm 109 Luther found Messianic material touching on Judas’ role. The heading given for the contents of this inspired poem is in a modern Luther’s German Bible: “Prophecy Concerning Judas and the Unfaithfulness against Christ by the Jews, and Their Curse.” Luther in a collection entitled: “The Four Psalms of Comfort,” dedicated to Queen Mary of Hungary, in the beginning of his exposition of this Psalm wrote: “David composed this psalm about Christ, who speaks the entire psalm in the first person against Judas, his betrayer, and against Judaism as a whole, describing their ultimate fate. In Acts 1:20 Peter applied this Psalm to Judas when they were selecting Matthias to replace him.” So, even though Rev. Bryant as a Pastor doesn’t see God’s plan in Judas’ work, Rev. Martin Luther saw God’s plan in Judas’ work.
Clearly, if Luther is right that the Psalmist speaks of Judas as the betrayer then what else can we conclude that God determined for Judas to betray Jesus? Both Jesus and Peter, as well as the Psalmist, in the above passages, verify that Judas was specifically chosen for the job of betrayal. Following Scripture then we rightly insist that Judas was predestined, called, elected, and/or chosen to betray Jesus.
And of course, we can’t forget Peter’s sermon,
Acts 2:23 He (Jesus) was handed over by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, and you, by the hands of the lawless, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross.
Now it beggars the imagination that God planned the actual crucifixion of Christ without planning every particular moment to that end including Judas’ betrayal. If I plan an omelet I also must plan to break eggs. If God planned to hand over His Son then God planned the means by which the Son was to be handed over. So, Judas had no free will. However, this does not mean Judas had no choice in the matter.
The Westminster Confession teaches regarding causation,
ii. Although in relation to the foreknowledge and decree of God, the first Cause, all things come to pass immutably, and infallibly; yet, by the same providence, He ordereth them to fall out, according to the nature of second causes, either necessarily, freely, or contingently.
A “second cause” is simply “a cause caused by something else.” This expression is used in theology to distinguish between God as the ultimate cause of everything that comes to pass and the myriad smaller causes we see at work in the world. If I drop a cup of water gravity is the secondary cause that causes it to fall, but God is the one who causes gravity. He is the primary cause.
Judas was a secondary cause of Christ’s crucifixion. As a secondary cause, Judas did what he desired to do because of his fallen human nature. But behind Judas’ free choice was the God who ordains all things to come to pass. We certainly don’t believe that when Judas betrayed Christ, the Father said to Himself, “WOW, I did not see that coming,?” or, “Well, that wasn’t in the plan but I’ll work around it somehow.” Only a free will theist “reasons” that way.
Next, we would say that Judas was responsible (at fault) simply because God held Judas responsible. God is the creator and by being the creator all are responsible to Him simply because He holds them responsible. Can Judas say to the creator, “Why did you make me this way?”
So, we know, from Scripture that the eternal predestinating God did ordain Judas to betray Christ and that Judas remained responsible for this betrayal. All of this is why Scripture could call Judas, “The Son of perdition.”
This title of Judas (John 17:2), which he shares in Scripture with the Anti-Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:3) is a well known Hebrew idiom whereby someone who embodies a trait or characteristic or destiny is called the son of that trait, character or destiny. The name “Son of perdition,” as applied to both Judas and the antichrist represents them both as given over irrecoverably and totally to the final perdition; and this from the foundations of time since it was God’s destiny for them. A destiny they very much freely chose.
God predestined Judas from his conception to his hanging himself inclusive of his betrayal of Christ. To believe otherwise introduces us to a non omnipotent God and a completely different definition at all points of the Christian faith.