One has to feel some sympathy for poor Judas. Judas played a role that was vital to the plan God had created to save mankind. He was the betrayer that got Jesus crucifixion going. He probably didn’t realize what would happen, but it had to happen. On seeing that Jesus was condemned to die, Judas renounced his blood money and hung himself. Jesus said of Judas, “It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” We also get a couple of insights into Judas when it says the Jesus knew who did not believe him and knew who was going to betray him. It would seem that it was Judas’ hard heart that condemned him, and God who positioned him to carry out his role.
Paul says it 1 Timothy, “(God) wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” This sweeping statement is both comforting and confusing. I’m glad that God wants us. I’m confused about why so few are actually saved (Matthew 7:13-14). I don’t think this statement is inaccurate or disingenuous. I get it really. Even I can look out at mankind as a whole and have compassion on our species and see value in each person and want them all to be a part of a sinless, joyful eternity. But then you meet certain people and experience the depth of depravity that they have chosen for themselves and understand why God will reject them. God knows the inner thoughts of people–what they are and what they can be. Though He would want it to be different, some will never trust Jesus. Some like Judas have crossed a line.
All of us are sinners and dead in our sin. We can’t change that on our own. It takes the Holy Spirit to open our mind to God. Apparently, though, some people are even further from God. We see this in God’s reaction to a wide segment of the Jewish population at the time of Isaiah. Isaiah is called to Heaven to receive a strange and frustrating mission. He is to speak to the people of Israel who have been in rebellion against God for hundreds of years. His message is to go purposely unheeded. Isaiah is told:
“Go tell this people: ‘Be hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, understand with their heart, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)
This group of people have already gone too far. Isaiah’s job is to seal their fate.
This same passage is quoted in the Gospels, but applied primarily to the leadership of the time. When Jesus is asked why He speaks in parables, He shockingly reveals that it is not to illustrate what He is saying, rather it is to shut certain people out from understanding. They, too, had crossed a line.
I am glad not to be Judas or one of those who will be “never understanding”. I would assume that there are plenty such people alive today. God knows who they are. I don’t. As a disciple of Jesus I am to assume that everybody could “understand with their heart” and therefore I am to share God’s promise of forgiveness through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Sharing that message comes with a hope but not an expectation. I hope people will believe and be “healed”. I realize, however, that this might not immediately come true or that it may never come true in some cases. Even if it doesn’t, faithfully sharing the Gospel serves it’s purpose every time.