We got talking in our Bible class the other day about whether or not we have the freedom to make our own choices in life, and the question of Judas came up. Did Judas do what he did of his own free will when he betrayed Jesus, or was he destined to do it and didn't have any choice? — Mrs. E. McK.
For centuries theologians and philosophers have debated the question of just how much freedom we have—so I doubt if I can solve it in just a few paragraphs!
Nevertheless, the Bible makes it clear that Judas was entirely responsible for the decision he made to betray Jesus. It was a deliberate act on his part; it wasn't done in a sudden burst of anger or a fit of uncontrolled rage. He sought out those who were opposed to Jesus and offered to reveal where He could be found. Once they paid him, Judas "watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present" (Luke 22:6).
At the same time, God knew what Judas would do, and in ways we can't fully understand, God directed Judas' path. Many centuries before, the prophet Zechariah had predicted the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (see Zechariah 11:12-13). Now, in God's providence, that prophecy was fulfilled by Judas' treachery.
The story of Judas is one of the most tragic in Scripture. He had been with the Lord almost since the beginning of His ministry; he had seen Jesus perform miracles and heard His teaching. And yet in his heart, he was not a believer. May this not be true of you or of anyone reading this column. Instead, make sure of your salvation by humbly turning in faith to Christ.