This morning I got a FB message from a friend, a member of the church I served as associate pastor in my first call. The question came up, I think, partly because of a topic coming up at a Wednesday night class tomorrow at his church and partly because a silly quiz on FB said that the disciple I most resemble is Judas. (FANTASTIC!) Here is the message and my response.
I really enjoyed your sermon you posted! I was wondering if you could give me some information on Judas? I have always felt he has gotten a bad rap, other than for killing himself. I always thought he was "chosen" to be the one who would sell out Jesus. I am not a big predestination person but if God uses us as a tool I feel we don't have much say in it. RB is going to do a little something on this in F3 Wednesday.
Thanks for any light you can shed on the subject and I really do enjoy reading your sermons on FB.
I'd like to go to R's class, too! I don't know about the whole Judas thing either. Shoot, I struggle with the idea that God WANTED Jesus to die. The crucifixion as a "plan" is hard for me to swallow - as something that was inevitable because of human sinfulness and redeemable out of God's graciousness, I can get behind that a little easier.
So Judas as someone who was doing what God planned for him to do is hard for me to take. My running thoughts are that maybe he didn't do it because he HAD to or was programmed by God to, but maybe he did it because he is sinful like all of us are sinful. He was greedy like all of us are greedy, he was confused or threathened or SOMETHING like all of us are at some points in our lives. His betrayal then, isn't his act of discipleship (following God's plan - - because it's hard for me to agree that betraying Jesus is part of discipleship - following God), but something he did out of sin, separating himself from God.
I tend not to believe there is one master plan or script that was written eons ago that we all just play out. That doesn't seem gracious and loving to me. Instead God creates us with a purpose (or purposes), calls on our lives, ideas of who we REALLY are if sin were not in the picture, but then God gives us free will to live our lives. Sometimes we are able, by God's grace, to tune in to that person we were created to be, and with faith and humility we follow God's lead and direction for our lives. Often we screw it up, in big and little ways. We sin. We don't live up to all that God wants for us and has gifted us to be. We don't sin because God wrote that in a plan for us, but we sin because God loved us so much we weren't made into little holy robots. God loved us by limiting himself and giving us freedom.
But the love and graciousness continues - - not only did God give us freedom, freedom that even led to the killing of his son, God also found a way to redeem us from the messes we get ourselves into. Maybe God did not WANT Jesus to be killed, but maybe God, in knowing how we humans have a tendency to screw things up, knew Jesus would be killed and found a way to redeem what happened, by raising him from the dead. So we tend toward sin, and sin leads to death, but by God's grace and mercy, death (the result of sin) won't win. God gets the final say, and God says life will win, no matter what we sinful humans do to get in the way. So even Judas, who really got the ball rolling on Jesus' last days, even Judas and the sin he had in his life (no more or no less than the sin of you and me) can (and I believe) will be redeemed by Jesus, whose love and grace is greater than death.
Hmmmm...Wow. I didn't have that thought through or planned or tucked away in my brain for just this question, but thinking it out on screen was a gift to me! Hmmm...I didn't plan to preach on Maundy Thursday, but maybe I will after all!
(I'll do "predestination" another time. What you're talking about is actually predetermination - - that we do has been planned or determined by God ahead of time. Predestination refers specifically to salvation. Presbyterians traditionally, but not all across the board, believe in presdestination when it comes to salvation. We do NOT profess belief in predetermination.)
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