Matthew 26:14-25, 47-50
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests,…
By piecing together what the various Gospels tell us about Judas, we can see the process by which our Lord separated him from the rest.
1. Our Lord indicated that among the disciples there was a traitor. Unable to detect the conscious look of guilt in the face of any of his companions, each, conscious of the deep, unfathomed capacity for evil in his own heart, can but frankly ask the Master, "Lord, is it I?" But there was one of them who did not join in the question.
2. Jesus answered, "He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me." The circle of suspicion is thus narrowed.
3. Almost simultaneously with this Peter beckons to John, who puts at last, in a whisper, the definite question, "Who is it?" and Jesus, in the ear of the beloved disciple, whispers the reply, "He it is," etc. (John 13:26). The look that accompanies the giving of the sop, as well as the act itself, shows Judas that his treachery is discovered. He therefore mechanically takes up, in a somewhat colder form, the question of the rest and says "Master, is it I?" His fear subdues his voice to a whisper, heard only by John and the Lord, and the answer, "Thou hast said. That thou doest do quickly," is equally unobserved by the rest. The sin of Judas presents us with one of the most perplexed problems of life and character. Let us, first of all, look at the connection of this betrayal with the life of Christ. Why might Jesus not have been taken without the help of a traitor? Possibly the reason was that it was needful that Jesus should be made perfect through suffering, that so he might be's merciful High Priest. He had already suffered in a variety of ways in body and mind; but till he was brought into close contact with a man who could accept his love, eat his bread, press his hand with assurance of fidelity, and then sell him, he did not know the misery that one human being can inflict on another. In conjecturing the character of Judas, we must start from the idea that with extraordinary capacity for wickedness he had also more than ordinary leanings to what was good. He was an apostle, and had been called to that office by Christ. He was himself so impressed with Christ as to follow him. It is possible he may have hoped to receive wealth and honor in the new kingdom, but this motive mingled with the attachment to Christ's Person which all the apostles had. That Judas was trusted by the other apostles is manifest. Even to the end he is unsuspected by them, and to the end he has an active conscience. He is overwhelmed with remorse and shame; his sense of guilt is stronger even than the love of money that had hitherto been his strongest passion: he judges himself fairly, sees what he has become, and goes to "his own place." If we ask what precisely it was in the crime of Judas that makes us so abhor it, manifestly its most hateful ingredient was its treachery. It is also invested with a horror altogether its own by the fact that this Person whom he betrayed was the Son of God and the Saviour of the world - the best beloved of God and every man's Friend. After three years' acquaintanceship and observation of the various ways in which Christ could bless people, this was all he could get from him. And there are still such men - men who can find nothing in Christ that they sincerely care for, though calling themselves his followers.
I. The sin of Judas teaches us the great power and danger of the love of money. It infallibly eats out of the soul every generous emotion and high aim. It can be so easily and continuously gratified, and it is notoriously difficult to extirpate. Covetousness is more a sin of the will than sins of the flesh or of a passionate nature. There is more choice in it, and therefore it above all others is called idolatry, because it above all others proves that the man is in his heart choosing the world and not God.
II. Disappointment in Christ is not an unknown thing among ourselves. Men attach themselves to Christ in a loose, conventional way. They are not wholly and heartily his, but merely seek to derive some influences from him. The result is that they one day find that through all their religious profession and apparently Christian life their characteristic sin has actually been gaining strength. And finding this, they become aware that they have lost both this world and the next. They find that the reward of double-mindedness is the most absolute perdition.
III. The most comprehensive lesson is the rapidity of sin's growth, and the enormous proportions it attains when the sinner is sinning against light. The position Judas enjoyed and by which he might have been forever enrolled among the foremost of mankind, one of the twelve foundations of the eternal city, he so skilfully misused that the greatest sinner feels glad that he has yet not been left to commit the sin of Judas. We may, then, walk with Christ, and yet be no Christians after all. Frequently we think and act as if the knowledge of our duty and the occasional good feelings and impulses that we enjoy were themselves saving, whereas it is this that makes our sin and our danger so much the greater. It is possible that the only result of our knowing Christ may be that we betray him. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,