I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled…
Christ chose him for what he was, and what he might have been, not for what he became. Christ chooses men not for their attainments, but for their possibilities. Do you suppose Christ chooses men for their ability or their character? He chooses them that He may give them character and inspire new capacities within them. He chooses twelve men, and one was a traitor; the average of treachery in human life is usually higher than that. Moreover, the election of Christ does not fetter the free will of a man. In a certain high and almost inscrutable sense it is true that it all happens "that it may be fulfilled;" for though the bad man may seem an accident he is not, but in some way fits into a Divine order. The wild wind roars through the troubled heaven, but somewhere there is a sail to catch it, so that all its fierceness is yoked to fairest uses, and transformed into a mysterious helpfulness. There are no accidents in the Divine order; the harvest of today is the fruitful child of the storm weather of a century ago; it was all that it might be fulfilled. But whatever may be the ultimate issue of events, the will of man works freely within their circumference. Christ has chosen every living soul, and called him; yet few there are that shall be saved. You are as free to work evil in an apostleship as in a fisherman's boat. Nay more, if this man was so cursed and burdened with evil aptitudes, was it not an act of Divinest mercy to call to him an apostleship? There are some men who never would be Christians at all unless they were Christian ministers. They need the constraint of solemn responsibilities; the only chance of saving them is to set them to save others. And, looked at in this light of human experience, how Divine was that discernment which chose Judas, and gave him this unique opportunity of making his calling and election sure beneath the very eyes of Jesus! For the evils which destroyed Judas had not ripened in him when Jesus called him. He came in the untainted freshness of faith, perhaps in the unbroken energy of youth. He had more than ordinary capacity, for at once he became the organiser of the little society, its steward, its financier, the custodian of its means. To paint him therefore in the light of the after event, as most painters have done, disfigured with the leer of low cunning, scowling with the meanness of baffled craft and delayed cupidity, is altogether false. He who paints Judas must put into his face the dying light of what was once noble enthusiasm — the shadowed eagerness of what was once heroic faith. He must paint a face full of the anguish of remembrance, the traces of perished nobility, the tragedy of overthrown ideals. In a word, we must remember Christ called him, and not in vain; Christ loved him, and not without cause; and howsoever dreadful the end may be, there was once a bright, a brilliant, and a beautiful beginning.
(W. J. Dawson.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.