For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.…
I. An instance of SELF-DECEPTION, its power and fruits.
1. The possibility that only gradually Judas fell away - original basis of narrow-mindedness and self-indulgence leading to love of money and dishonesty.
2. The light turned into darkness. Near to Jesus, but the conscience, once perverted, becoming rapidly its own tempter, kicking against convictions, till convictions themselves become impossible, and the Master, once revered, is hated.
3. The higher the elevation of privilege, the deeper the fall. When remorse lays hold of such a mind it devours all hope, and casts down headlong. Warning against the beginning of evil. Appeal to those who have still opportunity of repentance to listen to the voice of remonstrance. Jesus gave Judas many times the clear note of pitiful admonition, which was rejected.
II. A GREAT LESSON ON THE DUTY OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN THEIR RELATION TO CHURCH DISCIPLINE. The supreme principle must be, not that the Church punishes, but that it solemnly recognizes the Divine jurisdiction. Judas was in God's hands, and God dealt with him. The place was left vacant, to be filled up in dependence on Divine guidance. We can cut off a name and fill up an office, but we must not lay our hand on persons. The great error which has worked so fatally in Christendom has been the Church's usurping the Divine office of punishment, and calling in the secular arm to do its evil will. We should deal with backsliders in the tenderest spirit. At the same time, this conspicuous instance serves to keep us in mind that the kingdom of Christ is a real reign of sovereign power, and that the events of men's lives, their happiness or misery, and what the world calls their fate, all are appointed in harmony with the Divine purpose which is being fulfilled in the Church. The appeal to God by lot was a recognition of the same truth. Though an old Jewish custom, it was sanctioned by God as helping his people to remember the universality of his rule. It was not a blind appeal to chance, but was accompanied with believing prayer and an exercise of human wisdom so far as it went. As at the beginning, so still and always, the Church can be purged of its evil only by God, not by man. We must expect a mingled state, while we aim at purity and maintain a spiritual oversight and watchful discipline in the Church itself. There are two extremes to be avoided:
(1) the latitudinarian indifference which says, "Let the world and the Church intermingle without attempt at distinction;"
(2) the Pharisaical censoriousness which would be constantly pulling up tares, and wheat with them, and so tends to disintegrate the Church by endless divisions and separations. Let God be the Judge; for he has said, "Vengeance is mine." Let the prevailing spirit be the charity which "hopeth all things." - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.