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THE BETRAYAL OF JUDAS.
masked, as heartless, hypocritical, full of hatred-disappointed ambition having broken down into selfishness, and selfishness slid into covetousness, even to the crime of stealing that which was destined
for the poor.
For, when an ambition which rests only on selfishness gives way, there lies close by it the coarse lust of covetousness, as the kindred passion and lower expression of that other form of selfishness. When the Messianic faith of Judas gave place to utter disappointment, the moral and spiritual character of Christ's Teaching would affect him, not sympathetically but antipathetically. Thus, that which should have opened the door of his heart, only closed and double-barred it. His attachment to the Person of Jesus would give place to actual hatred, though only of a temporary character ; and the wild intenseness of his Eastern nature would set it all in flame. Thus, when Judas had lost his slender foothold, or, rather, when it had slipped from under him, he fell down, down the eternal abyss. The only hold to which he could cling was the passion of his soul. As he laid hands on it, it gave way, and fell with him into fathomless depths. We, each of us, have also some master-passion; and if, which God forbid ! we should lose our foothold, we also would grasp this masterpassion, and it would give way, and carry us with it into the eternal dark and deep
On that spring day, in the restfulness of Bethany, when the Master was taking His sad and solemn Farewell of sky and earth, of friends and disciples, and told them what was to happen only two days later at the Passover, it was all settled in the soul of Judas. 'Satan entered' it. Christ was to be crucified ; this was quite certain. In the general cataclysm let Judas have at least something. And so, on that sunny afternoon, he left them out there, to seek speech of them that were gathered, not in their ordinary meetingplace, but in the High-Priest's Palace. Even this indicates that it was an informal meeting, consultative rather than judicial. For, it was one of the principles of Jewish Law that, in criminal cases, sentence must be spoken in the regular meeting-place of the Sanhedrin." Ab. Sar. The same conclusion is conveyed by the circumstance, that the cap- before last tain of the Temple-guard and his immediate subordinates seem to have been taken into the council, no doubt to concert the measures bSt. Luke for the actual arrest of Jesus. There had previously been a similar gathering and consultation, when the report of the raising of Lazarus reached the authorities of Jerusalem. The practical resolution St. John xi. adopted at that meeting had apparently been, that a strict watch
8 b, line
a St. John xi. 57
should henceforth be kept on Christ's movements, and that every one of them, as well as the names of His friends, and the places of His secret retirement, should be communicated to the authorities, with the view to His arrest at the
moment.a It was probably in professed obedience to this direction, that the traitor presented himself that afternoon in the Palace of the HighPriest Caiaphas. They who were with him were the chiefs' of the Priesthood-no doubt, those Temple-officials, heads of the courses of Priests, and connections of the High-Priestly family, who constituted what both Josephus and the Talmud designate as the Priestly Council. All connected with the Temple, its ritual, administration, order, and laws, would be in their hands. Moreover, it was but natural, that the High-Priest and his council should be the regular official medium between the Roman authorities and the people. In matters which concerned, not ordinary misdemeanours, but political crimes (such as it was wished to represent the movement of Jesus), or which affected the status of the established religion, the official chiefs of the Priesthood would, of course, be the persons to appeal, in conjunction with the Sanhedrists, to the secular authorities. This, irrespective of the question—to which reference will be made in the sequel—what place the Chief Priests held in the Sanhedrin. But in that meeting in the Palace of Caiaphas, besides these Priestly Chiefs, the leading Sanhedrists (“Scribes and Elders ') were also gathered. They were deliberating how Jesus might be taken by subtilty and killed. Probably they had not yet fixed on any definite plan. Only at this conclusion had they arrived, that nothing must be done during the Feast, for fear of some popular tumult. They knew only too well the character of Pilate, and how in any such tumult all parties—the leaders as well as the led-might experience terrible vengeance.
It must have been intense relief when, in their perplexity, the traitor now presented himself before them with his proposals. Yet his reception was not such as he may have looked for. He probably expected to be hailed and treated as a most important ally. They were, indeed, 'glad, and covenanted to give him money,' even as he promised to dog His steps, and watch the opportunity for them. But they treated him not as an honoured associate, but as a common informer, and a contemptible betrayer. Perhaps this was the wisest plan, not only to save their own dignity, but to keep most secure
| About Caiaphas, see Book II. ch. xi. ? The evidence is collected, although
not well arranged, by Wieseler, Beitr. pp. 205-230.
THE PRICE OF THE BETRAYAL.
• Exod. xxi, 32
hold on the betrayer. And, after all, he could not do much for them -only show them how they might seize Him at unawares in the absence of the multitude, to avoid the possible tumult of an open
So little did they know Him! And Judas had at last to speak it out barefacedly-so selling himself as well as the Master:
What will ye give me?' It was in literal fulfilment of prophecy,a • Zech. xi. 12 that they weighed out' to him from the very Temple-treasury those thirty pieces of silver (about 31. 158.). And here we mark, that there is terrible literality about the prophecies of judgment, while those of blessing far exceed the words. And yet it was surely as much in contempt of the seller as of Him Whom he sold, that they paid the legal price of a slave. For, in truth, Judas could now not escape the toils; they might have offered him ten or five pieces of silver, and he must still have stuck to his bargain. Yet none the less do we mark the deep symbolic significance of it all, in that the Lord was, so to speak, paid for out of the Temple-money which was destined for the purchase of sacrifices, and that He, Who took on Him the form of a servant, was sold at the legal price Phil. ii. 7 of a slave.
And yet Satan must once more enter the heart of Judas at that Supper, before he can finally do the deed. But, even so, we believe a St. John it was only temporarily, not for always—for, he was still a human being, such as on this side eternity we all are—and he had still a conscience working in him. With this element he had not reckoned in his bargain in the High Priest's Palace. On the morrow of His condemnation would it exact a terrible reckoning. That night in Gethsemane never passed from his soul. In the encircling gloom all around, he ever saw only the torchlight glare as it fell on the pallid Face of the Divine Sufferer. In the terrible stillness before the storm, he ever heard only these words: Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?' He did not hate Jesus now-he hated nothing; he hated everything. He was utterly desolate, as the storm of despair swept over his disenchanted soul, and swept him before it. No one in heaven or on earth to appeal to; no one, Angel or man, to stand by him. Not the priests, who had paid him the price of blood, would have aught of him, not even the thirty pieces of silver, the blood-money of his Master and of his own soul—even as the modern Synagogue, which approves of what has been done, but not
"Probably such was the practice in public payments.
? The shekel of the Sanctuary=4
dinars. The Jerusalem shekel is found, on an average, to be worth about 2s.6d.
of the deed, will have none of him! With their "See thou to it!' they sent him reeling back into his darkness. Not so could conscience be stilled. And, louder than the ring of the thirty silver pieces as they fell on the marble pavement of the Temple, rang it ever in his soul: 'I have betrayed innocent blood !' Even if Judas possessed that which on earth cleaves closest and longest to us— woman's love-it could not have abode by him. It would have turned into madness and fled; or it would have withered, struck by the lightning-flash of that night of terrors.
Deeper—farther out into the night! to its farthest boundswhere rises and falls the dark flood of death. The wild howl of the storm has lashed the dark waters into fury: they toss and break in wild billow's at his feet. One narrow rift in the cloud-curtain overhead, and, in the pale, deathlike light lies the Figure of the Christ, so calm and placid, untouched and unharmed, on the stormtossed waters, as it had been that night lying on the Lake of Galilee, when Judas had seen Him come to them over the surging billows, and then bid them be peace. Peace! What peace to him nowin earth or heaven? It was the same Christ, but thorn-crowned, with nail-prints in His Hands and Feet. And this Judas had done to the Master! Only for one moment did it seem to lie there; then it was sucked up by the dark waters beneath. And again the cloud-curtain is drawn, only more closely; the darkness is thicker, and the storm wilder than before. Out into that darkness, with one wild plunge-there, where the figure of the Dead Christ had lain on the waters! And the dark waters have closed around him in eternal silence.
In the lurid morn that broke on the other shore where the flood cast him up, did he meet those searching, loving Eyes of Jesus, Whose
he knew so well—when he came to answer for the deeds done in the flesh ?
And—can there be a store in the Eternal Compassion for the Betrayer of Christ ?
PREPARATION FOR THE PASSOVER.
THE FIFTH DAY IN PASSION-WEEK_MAKE READY THE PASSOVER !!
(St. Matt. xxvi, 17-19; St. Mark xiv, 12-16; St. Luke xxii. 7-13; St. John xiii. 1.)
Ant. ii, 15. 1
When the traitor returned from Jerusalem on the Wednesday after
CHAP. noon, the Passover, in the popular and canonical, though not in the Biblical sense, was close at hand. It began on the 14th Nisan, that is, from the appearance of the first three stars on Wednesday evening [the evening of what had been the 13th], and ended with the first three stars on Thursday evening [the evening of what had been the 14th day of Nisan). As this is an exceedingly important point, it is well here to quote the precise language of the Jerusalem Talmud : "What is the Pascha?1 On the 14th (Nisan].' And so : Jer. Pes. Josephus describes the Feast as one of eight days, evidently reckon- line before ing its beginning on the 14th, and its close at the end of the 21st Nisan. The absence of the traitor so close upon the Feast would, therefore, be the less noticed by the others. Necessary preparations might have to be made, even though they were to be guests in some house—they knew not which. These would, of course, devolve on Judas. Besides, from previous conversations, they may also have judged that “the man of Kerioth’would fain escape what the Lord had all that day been telling them about, and which was now filling their minds and hearts.
Everyone in Israel was thinking about the Feast. For the previous month it had been the subject of discussion in the Academies, and, for the last two Sabbaths at least, that of discourse in the Synagogues. Everyone was going to Jerusalem, or had those near and dear to them there, or at least watched the festive processions to the Metropolis of Judaism. It was a gathering of universal Israel, that of the memorial of the birth-night of the nation, and of its Exodus, when friends from afar would meet, and new friends be
The question is put in connection with Pes. i. 8.
2 See the Jerusalem Gemara (Jer. Pes.
27 b, towards the end). But the detailed quotations would here be so numerous, that it seems wiser to omit them.