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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 26 - Verse 24
Luke Lu 22:22 says, "as it was determined." In the Greek, as it was marked out by a boundary; that is, in the Divine purpose. It was the previous intention of God to give him up to die for sin, or it could not have been certainly predicted. It is also declared to have been by his "determinate counsel and foreknowledge," Ac 2:23.
Woe unto that man, etc. The crime is great and awful, and he will be punished accordingly. He states the greatness of his misery in the phrase following.
It had been good, etc. That is, it would have been better for him if he had not been born; or it would be better now for him if he was to be as if he had not been born, or if he was annihilated. This was a proverbial mode of speaking among the Jews in frequent use. In relation to Judas it proves the following things:
(1.) that the crime which he was about to commit was exceedingly great;
(2.) that the misery or punishment due to it would certainly come upon him;
(3.) that he would certainly deserve that misery, or it would not be threatened or inflicted; and,
(4.) that his punishment would be eternal. If there should be any period when the sufferings of Judas should end, and he be restored and raised to heaven, the blessings of that happiness without end would infinitely overbalance all the sufferings he will endure in a limited time; and consequently it would not be true that it would be better for him not to have been born. Existence to him would be a blessing. It follows that, in relation to one wicked man, the sufferings of hell will be eternal. If of one, then it is equally certain and proper that all the wicked will perish for ever.
If it be asked how this crime of Judas could be so great, or could be a crime at all, when it was determined beforehand that the Saviour should be betrayed and die in this manner, it may be answered:
(1.) That the crime was what it was in itself, apart from any determination of God. It was a violation of all the duties he owed to God, and to the Lord Jesus; awful ingratitude, detestable covetousness, and most base treachery. As such it deserved to be punished.
(2.) The previous purpose of God did not force Judas to do this. In it he acted freely. He did just what his wicked heart prompted him to do.
(3.) A previous knowledge of a thing, or a previous purpose to permit a thing, does not alter its nature, or cause it to be a different thing from what it is.
(4.) God, who is the best judge of the nature of crime, holds all that was done in crucifying the Saviour, though it was by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge, "to be by wicked hands,"
This punishment of Judas proves also that sinners cannot take shelter for their sins in the decrees of God, or plead them as an excuse. God will punish crimes for what they are in themselves. His own deep and inscrutable purposes in regard to human actions will not change the nature of those actions, or screen the sinner from the punishment which he deserves.
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