Video from Desiring God
Why Did Jesus Choose Judas?
There are few more perplexing questions of the Bible than this: If he knew that he would betray him in the end, why did Jesus choose Judas as a disciple to begin with? The perplexing question comes specifically from a podcast listener named Austin. “Hello, Pastor John. I have been studying through the book of John lately, and I began to wonder why Jesus chose Judas to be one of his disciples in the first place. And what does Jesus have to teach us by choosing someone to be his disciple, knowing full well he would betray him? Are there any takeaways for us in this?”
John 6:64 says, “Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.” So, Austin’s question is biblically based and urgent. Jesus chose his own betrayer to be part of his apostles. Why?
I’m going to give five answers that I see in the Scriptures for why God ordained, and Jesus chose, Judas the betrayer to be part of his team.
1. Scripture cannot be broken.
The Old Testament Scriptures prophesied that this would take place. So Jesus chose Judas to fulfill the Scriptures. In John 13:18, Jesus says to his apostles, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled.” And then he quotes Psalm 41:9: “He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” And Peter, on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 1:16, says, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled . . . concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”
Step by step, Jesus moved toward the cross, taking pains to fulfill every Scripture concerning his death, right down to the details of how he would be handed over. The point was to show that the Scriptures cannot be broken, and that God is in control.
2. Spectacular sins serve God’s purpose.
By choosing to be betrayed by a close friend, and even by a kiss, Jesus shows us that the most despicable act in the history of the world — the betrayal and consequent murder of the Son of God — was part of God’s saving plan. That’s explicitly said in Acts 4:27–28, that by his hand and his predestination these things took place.
In other words, the lesson of Judas is that the most horrible sins in the world are used by God for his saving purposes. Just when people think they’re getting the upper hand, they find that their hand is serving the very one they are opposing. That’s a great lesson for us to learn.
3. Saving faith is not the same as religious activity.
By choosing from the beginning an apostle who was destined for apostasy and destruction, and by including him in his closest relations, and by giving him power over unclean spirits and over diseases, Jesus shows us that religious associations and religious practices and miracle-working are no sure evidences of being born again. Matthew 10:1–4 describes the choosing of the twelve. It names Judas and says Jesus “gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” (Matthew 10:1). Judas walked with Jesus, ministered with Jesus for three years, and he worked those miracles..." from the Transcript