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Was Judas Necessary?
by Wayne Blank
"God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man"
In the minds of many people, Judas Iscariot is one of the most wickedly infamous men of Bible History. His name itself has become analogous for traitor. But was Judas necessary to the sacrifice of the Lamb of God? It's true that Judas' betrayal was known beforehand, but was that because his betrayal was somehow required, or simply because The Lord knew what Judas was going to take upon himself to do during a great event that God had determined to carry out? Would the scribes and Pharisees have been stopped from having the Messiah murdered, as they decided to do before they had any contact with Judas, if Judas didn't do what he did? Of course not. They didn't need Judas. "Judas" was something that happened, not something that was necessary.
The apostle Peter personally knew Judas and witnessed what he did. Consider the contrast between the two apostles, the free choices that each made: when the betrayer Judas pointed Jesus out to the mob that came to arrest and murder Him, Peter drew his sword and stepped forward to defend Jesus. The only thing surprising to this writer about what Peter did is that Peter swung the sword first at Malchus, the "I'm only doing my job" servant of the high priest, rather than Judas who deserved it.
And what did Peter later say about Judas?
"Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry ... For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take." (Acts 1:16-17,20 KJV)
What exactly do the prophetic Psalms say about Judas? What is the full context of the two Scriptures that Peter referred to?
First, his "let his habitation be desolate" is a quote that actually said "let their habitation be desolate" - it described all of those who would betray, first their responsibility, then their fellow servants of God, all of whom will face God's wrath. Peter quoted a verse about Judas that over and over said "their," not just "his" - it spoke of all like him.
"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents." (Psalm 69:21-25 KJV)
The second, "let another take his office," is more specific about Judas and what awaits him i.e. "when he shall be judged, let him be condemned":
"Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few; and let another take his office." (Psalm 109:6-8 KJV)
If there had been no Judas, the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God would have happened anyway. God's plan of salvation for all of humanity did not depend upon a singular, corrupt man who chose to make himself unworthy of that salvation. As the Scriptures plainly say, eleven of the apostles "endured temptation" and "shall receive the crown of life," while one was "drawn away of his own lust," a choice that "bringeth forth death," eternal death. That's why the Savior said of him, "woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born."
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:12-15 KJV)
Everyone is a sinner and God will of course forgive those who truly repent. But there comes a point when each of us becomes, on balance, fully accountable to God because God knows the heart. "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:11-12 KJV)
Fact Finder: "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:15 KJV) isn't speaking just of physical death because everyone, even the most righteous people die ("it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment," Hebrews 9:27 KJV; see also When Will You Be Judged?). What death from "sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" is final, and why?