Firstly let me wish you all a Happy and blessed Easter where you know and celebrate the risen Christ.
That said, I am writing this musing just leading up to Palm Sunday and Holy week and through Lent I have been given many things to reflect on in the Easter story. One of the reflections has been that of predestination. Did God plan Judas to betray Jesus, Peter to deny Jesus, Pilate to wash his hands of Jesus etc.? Did they have the choice or were they following God’s purpose, God’s will?
It is probably better to say at this point that it is difficult to reach any conclusion but that should not mean we don’t wrestle with the questions.
The Bible tells us;
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, they are plans for good, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
So if God does have a plan for our lives, is it that when we stray from God we are following His plan or just using our freewill that He has given us? I came across this helpful commentary when thinking about if Judas did not have a choice in betraying Jesus.
‘It is difficult for many to reconcile the concept of “free will” (as most people understand it) with God’s foreknowledge of future events, and this is largely due to our limited experience of going through time in a linear fashion. If we see God as existing outside of time, since He created everything before “time” began, then we can understand that God sees every moment in time as the present. We experience time in a linear way—we see time as a straight line, and we pass from one point gradually to another, remembering the past we have already travelled through, but unable to see the future we are approaching. However, God, being the eternal Creator of the construct of time, is not “in time” or on the timeline, but outside of it. It might help to think of time (in relation to God) as a circle with God being the centre and therefore equally close to all points.
It concludes ‘God’s foreknowledge in no way supercedes Judas’ ability to make any given choice, rather, what Judas would choose eventually, God saw as if it was a present observation. Jesus made it clear that Judas was responsible for his choice and would be held accountable for it. “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me”.
So we are called to discern and indeed to follow God’s will but that does not mean that we don’t have the freedom to choose, just like we do when we sin and turn away from our relationship with God.
None of this is easy to either understand or come to a satisfactory conclusion but does that not describe God? How would a Father who loves his son so much, allow him to sacrifice himself on a cross. Surely as we look back on Lent and Holy Week we should take the opportunity to spend time in reflection and meditation in the presence of God who loves us beyond our imagining.
May God bless you and grant you a blessed time as you dwell in his love!
Your friend and servant