“The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of an is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” – Jesus Christ (Mark 14.16)
That’s a sobering statement: it would be better for Judas to have not been born than betray Jesus. Why? It’s not just the betrayal of handing him over to the authorities. God could have forgiven Judas for that. He forgave Peter for denying Jesus. So why is it better to not have been born? Because Judas was condemned to hell forever for his sins. It’s better to not exist than to exist in hell forever. Therefore, it is true for all who will be condemned: it is better for them if they had never been born.
But they were born. God ordained that it would be so. So if it isn’t better or ultimately good for them, why did God ordain their existence? I think their existence is ordained and actual so that those who are saved from their sins and for God see and savor the glory of God’s mercy seen in light of the condemned.
That’s a heavy thought. Really heavy. But I think it’s biblical.
Romans 9:22–24 (LEB, underline added) 22 And what if God, wanting to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And he did so in order that he could make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy that he prepared beforehand for glory, 24 us whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
So what does this mean for us as Christians who intend to gospelize and make disciples?
It doesn’t mean we write people off as condemned and without hope. We don’t know whom God will save and the gospel offer is real. We must not look down on those who aren’t saved as below or beneath us as if we are superior or more deserving. We’re not. Nor does it mean we passively sit around assuming God will save people despite our passivity and disobedience.
It means we feel the weight of our sin and the just consequence of our sins. We meditate on the mercy seat (propitiation) of Jesus Christ on the cross. And we appreciate, know, and celebrate mercy. Mercy! We sing his blood bought mercies! Then we look at our non-Christian neighbors and nations and tell them about Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, offering them the hope of mercy if they will repent from their sin and righteousness and entrust themselves to Jesus the Messiah.