Was Judas Predestined to Betray Christ? (2)
L. D. MCCABE ON HOW THERE WERE NO OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES OF JUDAS’ BETRAYAL
We read (Matt. xxvi, 14-16): “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” The chief priests and scribes and elders had consulted how that they might take Jesus by subtlety and kill him. “Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot, being one of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them . . . And he promised and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.” (Luke xxii, 3, 4, 6.) And immediately after this Jesus announced to his disciples the sad and astounding fact that one of their brethren and fellow-apostles was about to betray him. “One of you,” said he, “who eateth with me, shall betray me.” “The hand of him who betrayeth me is with me on the table.” “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me.” That is, one of you has formed a purpose to betray me into the hands of my enemies. “And, supper being ended [rather, having begun], and the devil having now put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,” we are told that “Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray me.” (John xiii, 2, 21.) He then gave the sop to Judas, and “after the sop Satan entered into him.” Judas had voluntarily cherished the thought suggested to him by an evil spirit, and this had paved the way for Satan to “enter into him:” otherwise the fiend never could have gained such an entrance. He then deliberately went away to the chief priests, pondering that heartless and frightful villainy, and proposed to them to betray into their hands his Divine Lord and Master. He then planned how he might do it conveniently and successfully, in the absence of the people.
This betrayal is the blackest spot on the blackest page of all human history. It is the most inexplicable of all historic problems. But there was no necessity for Judas to betray Christ. He might have desisted from the treacherous deed had he so willed. Jesus did most earnestly deprecate the course he was then contemplating. He announced in various impressive forms the amazing fact that one of his chosen friends and associates was about to betray him: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.” “Behold the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” How could Christ pronounce these most solemn words, and put forth these earnest efforts to rescue Judas, in good faith, if at the same moment he was infallibly certain that he would, after all, basely betray him? To select a frail man, full of weaknesses and inherited moral imbecilities, for a mission for which he was wholly unfitted, and then to subject him to temptations which he knew he would not, as a matter of fact, manfully withstand, and yet to pursue him with earnest efforts to rescue him from the commission of the deed, seems to be so unnatural and shocking that it is almost unpardonable to allude to it even as a possibility.