We have received other questions like this which imply that “they can’t both be true,” but we shall see that “they are both true.” Judas did indeed betray the Lord by an act of his own will, yet God had ordained that Jesus would die in order to provide salvation for lost sinners.

In Matthew 17:22-23 Jesus foretold His betrayal: “Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be BETRAYED into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceeding sorrowful” (NKJV). Later, when Jesus sat down to eat the Passover with His disciples shortly before His death, we read: “Now as they were eating, He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME’” (Matthew 26:21). The disciples were shocked to learn that one in their company would betray the Lord. What we read next confirms that it was indeed Judas and that he did so willingly. “And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, ‘Lord, is it I?’ He answered and said, ‘He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.’ Then JUDAS, WHO WAS BETRAYING HIM, answered and said, ‘Rabbi, is it I?’ He said to him, ‘You have said it’” (verses 22-25). First, Jesus points out Judas by referring to the one “who dipped his hand with Me in the dish.” In John 13:26 we read, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it. And having dipped the bread, He gave it to JUDAS ISCARIOT, the son of Simon. And then, after Judas comes right out and asks, “Rabbi, is it I?” Jesus said point blank, “Yes.” This is crystal-clear, is it not? Later, in the Garden of Gethesemane, Judas followed through with his act of betrayal: “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His BETRAYER had given them a sign, saying, ‘Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.’ Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed Him” (Matthew 26:47-49).

We have learned in these scriptures that 1) Jesus knew Judas would betray Him; and 2) Judas did so as an act of his own free will. Some believe that since Jesus knew Judas would do this and that “the Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of him” (verse 24), that it was God’s plan for Judas to betray His Son and thus Judas is not responsible for his act of betrayal. That may sound “logical to our minds,” but if that were the case Jesus never would have said, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” In these few words, Jesus was declaring that Judas was RESPONSIBLE for his act of betrayal and that he would be JUDGED for it. In John 17:12, Jesus prayed to the Father concerning the Twelve disciples, “Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost EXCEPT THE SON OF PERDITION, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” The words “the son of perdition” means Judas was doomed to eternal damnation because of his rejection of Christ, which was fully revealed in his act of betrayal. Judas was never a true believer and Jesus knew this. “For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and WHO WOULD BETRAY HIM” (John 6:64). When Jesus chose him to be an apostle He said, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil” (John 6:70) and the next verse says, “He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.” Yet we read (in John 17:12) that Jesus also knew that by choosing Judas the Scripture would be fulfilled. The scripture referred to is Psalm 41:9 which states, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, WHO ATE MY BREAD, HAS LIFTED UP HIS HEEL AGAINST ME.” Now compare this with John 13:18 & 26.

So, what have we learned? We have learned that Judas betrayed Jesus by an act of his own will and yet we know that God used this sinful act to fulfill His plan to provide a Savior for lost and guilty sinners. This means that “man is RESPONSIBLE for every act of sin” and that “God is SOVEREIGN and can overrule man’s actions for good.” We can’t limit this to Judas only, for many in Israel were guilty of “delivering Jesus up to death” as we see in Matthew 27:1-2, “When the morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and DELIVERED Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.” Yet in Acts 2:23 we see Peter preaching to those same men and saying, “Him, being DELIVERED BY THE DETERMINED PURPOSE AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” Men had DELIVERED Jesus to be put to death, yet at the same time God DELIVERED His Son up to death to fulfill His purpose in salvation for sinners! Men are RESPONSIBLE for what they did and will be judged for it (see Revelation 20:11-15), yet God is SOVEREIGN and in judging His Son at the cross for our sins He is now saving all sinners who believe on His Son as their Savior (see John 3:14-18). Amazing Grace!!  (DO)  (513.3)