In the Palm Sunday service at Christ the King Presbyterian Church we read from John 12; a common Triumphal Entry passage for Pastors to preach from on this particular Sunday.
As we go through the passages that the Pastor preaches from, I like to reference some of the commentaries I have in my Olive Tree library. One such commentary that I have is the Orthodox Study Bible, which gives commentary from the Eastern Orthodox perspective. In regards to John 12:1-18 it had this to say:
“The other disciples said the same thing Judas said (v. 5), but with a very different motive (see Mt 26:6–13 and note). Judas spoke from greed, while the others spoke from the virtue of charity. That Jesus put a thief in charge of the money shows that by every means He attempted to save Judas: He fulfilled Judas’ lust for money; He allowed Judas to exercise apostolic authority (6:11; see also Mk 6:7); He washed Judas’ feet with the other disciples (13:5); and He allowed him to partake at the table of the Mystical Supper (13:26). Yet Judas could never overcome his greed (see note at Mt 26:14–16).”
There are several things to question in this (like the assertion that Jesus tried to satisfy Judas’s sin of lust with the object of His lust), but what caught my attention the most in this paragraph was the statement: “That Jesus put a thief in charge of the money shows that by every means He attempted to save Judas”. God-the God who created the universe-tried by every means to save Judas-and FAILED.
That’s the direct and unavoidable conclusion of this statement. This really should cause everyone who reads this to take a step back and exam what we think about the nature of God’s saving work and the nature of our relationship as creatures to the creator.
This statement portrays God as impotent. Plain and simple. I know that is not how it would be explained. It would be defended as God not being willing not violate Judas’s free will, so try as He might…only Judas can save himself. Yes, that is what this is saying. Judas is the final author of his salvation since God cannot save him unless Judas lets Him.
This is not how God’s work of salvation is portrayed in the Bible. When Christ died, He actually accomplished something, He actually saved, not potentially saved. God doesn’t TRY to save, God saves.
And just for clarity, God had always intended Judas to betray Him. The betrayal and the following result of the cross, were not accidents or backup plans-they were decreed. Where do we see this? From the mouth of the Apostle Peter:
Acts 1:15-17 “In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”
We cannot miss the truth of what this passage is declaring. Jesus chose Judas to share in the apostolic ministry before His betrayal. He was among the inner circle of 12, and yet it was spoken by the Holy Spirit “beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas”.
Where? In Psalm 69:26, 109:8.
Acts 1:18-20 “(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,
“‘May his camp become desolate,
and let there be no one to dwell in it’; (Psalm 69:26)
“‘Let another take his office.’ (Psalm 109:8) “
This type of exegesis is very odd to us probably, but leaving arguments about hermeneutics aside, it is enough for us to know that since Saint Peter said it with Apostolic authority this is what those passages mean, we know that is what they meant.
Here are some notes from the Reformation Study Bible to help a little with understanding:
~“1:20 his camp become desolate. Ps. 69:26 is fulfilled in that Judas’s final property purchase was a graveyard, where the dead, not the living, dwell.”
~“his office. In Ps. 109, King David invokes God’s judgment on those who repaid his goodness with evil and his love with hatred (v. 5), as Judas did to Jesus the Messiah. Among the curses on such a traitor was the reassignment of his office, or “position of oversight,” to another (v. 8), as the church now asks the ascended Jesus to do in choosing Judas’s successor.”
We must remember that God had for ordained for the events of the cross to happen, and that means He ordained the means by which they came about. Again, this is affirmed to us by the Apostle Peter:
Acts 4:27-28 “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
Let me be clear about the point of the post:
-The events leading up to the cross where planned
-Judas was predestined to betray Christ (and I affirm it was by his own free will that he did these actions).
-Jesus cannot fail to save:
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me (referring to the sheep the Father has given Him in verse 37), but raise it up on the last day” John 6:39
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” 1 Thess 5:9-10