Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests,…
I. CHARACTER OF JUDAS. Though Judas had extraordinary capacity for crime, he must also have had more than ordinary leanings to what was good. He was an apostle. This implies on Christ's part discernment of some qualities in Judas likely to make him useful to the Church. It implies on Judas's part a willingness at least to put himself in the way of what was good. It is true he might follow Jesus as a speculation, expecting advancement and wealth as the result. But this motive mingled to some extent in the discipleship of all the apostles. And probably along with this unworthy motive there was in him, as in them, some mixture of higher purpose. He may have felt the elevating influence of Christ's fellowship, and may have wished to feel it more. And it is something in his favour that he remained so long in Christ's company. Yet this man, with his intelligence, his occasional good impulses, his feeling of affection for Christ, his favouring circumstances, committed the greatest crime it has been possible for any to commit.
II. HEINOUSNESS OF HIS CRIME. The most hateful element in the crime is its treachery. Caesar defended himself till struck by the dagger of a friend; then he covered his face, and accepted his fate. One can forgive the open blow of a declared enemy, but the man who lives with you on terms of intimacy, and thus learns your past history, your ways and habits, and the state of your affairs, the man you so confide in that you communicate to him what you keep hidden from others, and who, while you still think well of him, uses his knowledge of you to blacken your character, damage your prospects, and ruin your family, - this man is a criminal of a different dye. So Judas used his knowledge of Christ's habits - his hour and place of prayer, etc. The circumstance, too, that he made money by his treachery is an aggravation. The best use he could think of to put Jesus to was to sell him for five pounds. After all be had seen and known of Jesus, this was all the benefit he thought he could derive from him.
III. ATTEMPTED PALLIATIONS OF HIS CRIME. So diabolical does the crime seem, so difficult is it to believe that any one who had known and lived with Jesus could find it in his heart to give him up to his enemies, that attempts have been made to account for the act on less damning motives. Especially it has been urged that it was the purpose of Judas merely to force the hand of Jesus - to compel him to resort to force in self-defence, and erect the standard of the new kingdom. He was weary of the inactivity of Jesus, and sought to bring matters to a crisis. Some plausibility is given to this view by the subsequent remorse and suicide of Judas. This, it is said, proves that he did not intend the death of his Master. But to argue thus is to forget that in all cases sin committed looks very different from sin in prospect. Doubtless Judas did not clearly foresee the terrible guilt of giving up his Master to death; but this does not imply that he did not intend to give him up to death. Before we sin, it is the gain we see; after we sin, the guilt.
IV. SOURCES OF THE CRIME. His discipleship bad put him in the way of temptation. He had carried the bag of the small community. His covetousness had increased upon him. And now he saw clearly that no great scope for money making was to be found in the company of Jesus. He was a disappointed, embittered man. He felt he must break with Christ, but in doing so would win what he could, and would revenge himself on those who had kept him poor, and at the same time, by exploding the society and annihilating it, would justify his own conduct in deserting the cause. Infer:
1. The power and danger of the love of money. All that we do in the world day by day has a more or less direct reference to money. This passion of covetousness is therefore always appealed to. Other evil propensities allow intervals of freedom, periods of repentance and amendment; but this is constant. Judas's fingers were always in the bag; it jingled as he walked; it lay under his pillow as he slept.
2. The enormous growth a sin makes when committed against light. Everything in Judas's position to win him from worldliness. But the uuworldliness of his company only led him to take greater advantage, and did not infect him with generosity. Had he passed his days as a small trader in Kerioth, he could only have reached the minor guilt of adulterating his goods and giving them out in false measures; but in Christ's company his sin acquired abnormal proportions. Inducements to righteousness and opportunities of good provoke in the sinner a strong and determined bent to sin. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,