Man’s Freedom of Choice
Since the fall of man, God planned to offer Jesus to redeem mankind from the penalty of their sins (Genesis 3:15; John 3:16). The ultimate expression of divine love is the Father’s gift of His own Son, through whom it becomes possible for believers to be “called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Human beings do have the freedom of choice because God created them in His own image (Genesis 1:26,27), and that included the ability to choose or reject Him (Joshua 24:15). Any worship to God that is not voluntary, is useless. God sets before men life and death and calls them to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:15,16). But He does not interfere with their contrary choice, nor does He protect them from its natural results (Ezekiel 18:31, 32; 33:11).
There is a critical difference between God’s foreknowledge and God’s power to predetermine an event. Predestination pre-decrees the outcome, whereas foreknowledge knows the outcome of all things in advance. Because God sees the future, that does not mean He will make it happen. While, God wishes that all men may be saved and have eternal life, some will choose otherwise. And He cannot change what they chose because He does not force people to love Him.
Did Judas Have a Choice?
The Bible prophesied that Jesus’ close friend and disciple (Judas) would betray Him (John 13:18). “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalms 41:9). God merely foresaw what would happen, but Judas made choice of his own free will.
Christ washed the feet of Judas just like He washed the feet of John and James (John 13:1-17). Judas could have repented, but he chose not to. His greed for power and money overruled his love for Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:42-46; Luke 22:48-51; John 12:6).
Did Pilate Have a Choice?
In His mercy, God warned Pilate not to condemn Christ through a dream given to his wife. “While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him” (Matthew 27:19). It seems that the letter from Pilate’s wife, whom tradition has named Claudia Procla, came right before Pilate sent for Barabbas. Pilate was already persuaded of the innocence of Jesus, and his wife’s message was an additional supernatural affirmation.
But Pilate did not give the verdict he knew to be right. Instead, he made the decision to go against his convictions and sentence Jesus to be crucified. He lacked the moral courage to give the right judgement. And he gave the order to crucify Jesus. In doing so, gave up justice and mercy to appease the religious leaders of Israel.
Then, “Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to its’ (Matthew 27:24). However much Pilate tried to run away from responsibility for the death of Jesus, his guilt remained on him.
Although God planned to send Jesus to die for men’s sins, Judas and Pilate made their own choices in betraying Jesus. If Judas and Pilate made the right decisions and did not commit their horrible sins, Jesus would have still died but through other circumstances and these crimes would not have be accredited to them (Romans 4:8).
In His service,