Then the men seized Jesus and arrested Him.
I. THE PRETENDED FRIENDS OF CHRIST ARE HIS WORST ENEMIES. Only a disciple can betray as Judas did. The kiss and salutation of respect, "Rabbi!" have become classical.
II. NOT THE SKILL OR FORCE OF HIS CAPTORS, BUT HIS OWN MEEKNESS AND MERCIFUL PURPOSE, RENDERED THEIR SCHEME EFFECTUAL. There was no surprise, for the Victim of the treachery was fully aware of it, and, indeed, warned his disciples of the approach of the band (ver. 42). As a stratagem, the midnight expedition was therefore a failure. And there is something unspeakably ludicrous in the portentous weapons which were thought necessary, and the large number of men. This is the sting of many a carefully hatched villainy, viz. that eventually it loses even the merit of originality or cleverness. The wisdom of this world is in any case no match for the wisdom of God.
III. THE INTERESTS OF CHRISTIANITY ARE NOT SERVED BY FORCE OR VIOLENCE. It was Peter whose impulsiveness had betrayed him into the thoughtless act. Hidden probably by the darkness, he was not detected, save by the eye of the Master. Had it even been expedient to oppose force with force in the general conflict of Christ with the world-power, on that occasion the odds were tremendous (cf. Matthew 26:52).
IV. THE SON OF MAN HAD TO MEET THE ONSET OF EVIL ALONE. His prediction was fulfilled (ver. 27). - M.
He that betrayeth Me is at hand.I. WE SEE IN HIM WHAT RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES AND ADVANTAGES IT IS POSSIBLE TO ENJOY AND YET BE DESTITUTE OF VITAL PIETY. How impressively does the fatal example of Judas admonish the hearers of the gospel, the members of Christian churches, and especially the junior members of Christian families. Value your privileges, but do not rest in them. Improve them, profit by them; but do not confide in them. Say not, "We have Abraham to our father;" "the temple of the Lord are we."
II. WE SEE IN JUDAS WHAT MELANCHOLY CONSEQUENCES THE INDULGENCE OF ONE SINFUL PROPENSITY MAY INVOLVE. Most men have some easily besetting sin; some propensity which is more powerful, some passion which more readily than others overcomes them. Let the young, especially, endeavour to ascertain what that is, each in his own case. The besetting sin of Judas was avarice. Notwithstanding his association with that purest, loveliest one, whose peerless elevation of character and disinterested benevolence appeared in all He said and did, Judas caught no portion of his magnanimity; there was in him none of the nobleness of mind which distinguished His master. His was always a mean, sordid, grovelling spirit. He was one of those grubs with whom you sometimes meet in society, who will do anything, bear anything, sacrifice anything for money; who have no idea of worth but wealth; who reverence none but those who bear the bag; whose reverence increases as the purse distends; if, indeed, they do not envy still more than they reverence even these. You may know them by their gait. There is always something low, shuffling, tortuous, sinister in their looks, and in their movements. They have generally one hand in the pocket, fingering about their silver or their copper gods. Their eyes are almost always cast on the ground, as Milton saw that Mammon, the meanest of all the devils, had his eye fixed on the golden pavement of the nether world. But though his besetting sin was avarice, Judas does not seem to have been aware of it, or he did not watch against it; and, as it often happens, he was placed in a situation which tended to draw it out, and to strengthen it. He was the treasurer of the little society with which he was connected. He kept the bag, and had the management of their pecuniary matters. His hand was often in that money bag; his eye was almost constantly upon it; and his heart was always with it. The melancholy effect of this was, that avarice soon grew into thievishness; the temptations presented by his office, though in themselves exceedingly trifling, were too powerful for his avaricious propensities to resist. What an idea of the character of Judas, this transaction gives us! — Of his meanness, his low, sordid avarice! This is seen in the paltry sum which he agreed to take as a sufficient recompense for so foul a deed. For a few pieces of silver he would deliberately clothe himself with everlasting shame. — Of his hardness of heart. This is seen in the time during which he maintained his resolution. This fearful deed was not done in the hurry of a moment; it was a deliberate act, it was Wednesday when he made the agreement with the chief priests; it was Friday morning before it was carried into execution. During that time he repeatedly saw his Lord. How could he meet His eye? He was present at the last supper; and when Jesus said, "One of you shall betray Me," he inquired, as welt as the rest, "Is it I?" His callousness appears also in the manner in which he betrayed the Redeemer — with the very token of affection; and he did it in the presence of his brethren. Lord, what is man? Such were some of the melancholy consequences of indulging, instead of watching against and subduing, his easily besetting sin. To derive from his example the instruction it is calculated to yield, we must endeavour to enter into his views and feelings; to understand how he felt and how he reasoned. A remark or two may assist us here. It is evident we observe, in the first place, that he had not the slightest apprehension of the serious consequences of his treachery. It was not his wish to inflict any pain on the Redeemer, or to do Him any injury; and nothing was farther from his thoughts than that he was delivering Him up to death. He was not a cruel monster who thirsted for human blood, and laughed at human woe. He belonged not to the savages of the French revolution, nor to the ferocious men of our own country, whose deliberate murders attained for them considerable notoriety some few years since. He was a poor despicability, who loved money above all things, and cared not to what meanness he submitted in order to secure it; but he had no sympathy with deeds of cruelty and blood. It would appear that he was as fully persuaded of the Messiahship of Jesus as any of the apostles; but in exact proportion to the strength of this conviction would be his confidence that Jesus could not suffer; as in common with the rest of his nation, he believed that the Christ would continue forever. It is also possible that, in making the offer to deliver his Master into the hands of the chief priests and rulers, he may have been influenced in some measure by resentment. While at supper in the house of Simon the leper, a pious woman anointed our Lord with very precious ointment. This conduct was censured by Judas and his brethren as an act of useless prodigality, but was vindicated and commended by our Lord as an act of piety which should receive honourable mention wherever the gospel was known. This incident may have greatly displeased Judas, for he appears to have gone directly from the house of Simon to the palace of the high priest; and it is not impossible that, in taking this step, avarice was quickened by resentment. But, as we bare repeatedly intimated, the prevailing motive was love of money By the habitual indulgence of his avariciousness, he had become the blind slave of that sordid passion. All generosity of sentiment, all nobility of mind, all sense of integrity and honour, had become extinct. In our own day persons have been known to perpetrate, with their own hands, the most atrocious murders under the sole influence of cupidity. It was not that their victims had done anything to offend them; it was not that they regarded them with any feelings of hostility; and yet they watched them carefully for successive days, drew them into their meshes, and then deliberately, and without the slightest compunction, murdered them. Like Judas, they did it for what they could get by it; and, in some instances, the wages of their iniquity were not greater than his. It is, we believe, an undeniable fact, that certain persons, well known to those who require their services, and to others connected with them, may be hired at any time, in the metropolis of England, for half-a-crown, deliberately to perjure themselves. It is not that they have any interest in the ease, or that they have any wish to injure one party, or to benefit another; like Judas, they do it simply for what they can get by it. These illustrations, it must be confessed, are taken from the very dregs of society — the lowest depths of social degradation. But if we look to higher regions, we shall find illustrations in abundance, and of a character scarcely less affecting. It is, we believe, a fact, that there are persons employed in Christian England in casting idols for the Indian market. Christian people make these gods and ship them out to India for sale. There they work amongst the teeming millions of that vast continent, deceiving, degrading, destroying the souls of men. It is not that these idol makers have any faith in the gods which they make; it is not that they have any interest in the prevalence of idolatry, or any wish that it should continue to curse the world; as in the case of Judas, their only object is what they can get by it. Take, for instance, the case when a question of vital interest is agitated, the constituency of the country is appealed to, the happiness of millions is involved in the issue, and how do many of our electors act? Some do not concern themselves in the least about the merits of the question; but make it known that their suffrages are in the market, and that the highest bidder may secure them Others have their opinions, but lures are presented, promises are made if they will vote in opposition to their convictions; and they do it. They thus sacrifice what they believe to be the truth, and the best interests of their country, at the shrine of mammon. It is not that they hate their fellow men: it is not that they wish to injure their country; but they act as Judas did; he sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver, and they sell their country for what they can get for it. Very much of this spirit is found amongst professedly religious people. Many are influenced in their selection of the place of worship they attend, or the church they join, chiefly by the prospect of gain which it holds out to them. If there be in a congregation one or two wealthy and benevolent families, you are almost sure to find many there; some because it is respectable, and others because there is something to be got by it. We once heard a Christian pastor relate the following: — N.S. and his wife were members of the church at — ; they avowed great attachment to the church, and great affection for the pastor, from whose ministry they professed to derive much good. They removed on account of business to some distance, where they had the advantage of attending a very faithful ministry and of associating with a united flock. But that church was not like their own; it was not home to them, and the preaching was not like that of their minister. Often did they come a considerable distance, and at no small inconvenience, to enjoy the privilege of a Sabbath day amongst their own friends. After some time they were brought back again to their old neighbourhood; and now everything was so delightful — Sabbaths, week-day services, intercourse with friends — it was all so good. A few months passed away, and it was observed that N.S. and his wife had lost much of the ardour of their zeal, and had grown slack in their attendance. Their pastor called on them one day to inquire of their welfare. N.S. seemed low, and had very little to say; he did remark, however, that he had received very little encouragement from his own friends and fellow members in the way of business, but that Mr. L.T. (a leading man in another community) had been very kind to him, that his bill for the last quarter amounted to the sum of £ — . A word to the wise is enough. The minister remarked when he left the house, "The bait has taken; N.S. will soon find some pretext for leaving us, and will go over to the — ." And so it was. Oh, Judas, thou art not dead; thy spirit lives, and works amongst us in ten thousand ways. "Every man looketh for his gain from his quarter."
III. THE CHARACTER OF JUDAS IS STILL FURTHER INSTRUCTIVE TO US, AS IT SHOWS HOW DEEPLY MEN MAY SORROW FOR SIN AND YET BE DESTITUTE OF GENUINE CONTRITION. We remark further that the repentance of Judas led him to make every reparation in his power. His sorrow was sincere, inward, deep; and he did not keep it to himself. Judas not only confessed his sin, but he also honoured, publicly honoured Him who suffered through his treachery; "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." And this is not all; Judas not only honoured the Redeemer who suffered through his treachery, but he also threw back the wages of iniquity: "He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed." The price of innocent blood he could hold no longer. This indicates a great change in his views and feelings. His repentance, therefore, seems not only to come exceedingly near to that which is spiritual and saving, but absolutely to include its great elements.
(J. J. Davies.)
I. AN EXAMPLE OF THE MEANING OF TEMPTATION. Man is under no iron law which compels him to sin. He does as he does, not because he has to, but because he wills to. The stress of habit may become desperate, but it is the sinner's own act that has brought him into such a state. So it was with Judas. Intelligently, deliberately had he leaned the whole weight of his obdurate heart against that door of mercy which the Saviour would have opened to him. In the very face of his destiny, with its notes of doom sounding louder and louder, like the peals of distant bells as one approaches the town, he went straight on to his deed. In selfishness and avarice he has cherished base suggestions, till they fastened their ruinous hold upon him. A pilferer, grown to be a thief, soon became a monster, balancing an innocent life against thirty denarii.
II. THE SOCIETY OF THE WORTHY DOES NOT INSURE LIKENESS TO THEM. The lion will crave blood wherever he is, and the buzzard be scenting carrion in every breeze. There is no salvation in friendships. There may be restraints, there is no certainty.
III. TREACHERY ALWAYS FAILS TO MAKE GOOD ITS PLEDGES. Falseness never pays. Judas was promptly given his price; but with it a burden, whose nature he little divined at the first. So long as he must carry this, his treasure was cankered. He thought by giving it back to find relief; but none was there. He could not imagine he should soon be seeking to hang himself, rather than prolong the moments that he might enjoy abundance. Whatever our infidelity, whether financial or social or religious, we must reap as we have sown. Condemnation is certain. There is only One whose voice can silence it. Confession of Him means everything. Betrayal of Him involves the loss of all hope and well-being. Repentance may not be possible for such. Repentance would have sent the guilty out by himself to weep bitterly; but remorse could find no stopping place short of the halter.
(De Witt S. Clark.)1. Observe here Christ's meekness. He requires us to submit to the blows of our enemies. He submitted even to their kiss. How gracious the self-control that could allow such a liberty!
2. Apostasy should be very earnestly guarded against. When we fall, we fall not merely to the level we left, but to one much lower.
3. The very manner in which Christ was betrayed commends Him and condemns Judas. For is not the kiss itself an acknowledgment that love and homage were the things to which the Saviour was entitled? And if his act admits Christ's worth, how self-condemned he stands for practising treason against One whose right is love.
4. The cause of Christ is frequently betrayed still, with a kiss. Deadly attacks on it often contain complimentary acknowledgments of its worth. Sometimes the wicked life can adopt a bearing of punctilious respectfulness to everything religious.
(R. Glover.)John 18:2). Besides, he being so well acquainted with Him, was better able than all the rest of the company to discern our Saviour, and to descry Him from all others in the dark. And, lastly, he by reason of his familiarity with Christ, might have access to Him to salute Him with a kiss (as the manner of those times was), and to betray Him. So that by all this it appears that Judas, being one of our Saviour's own disciples, was in that respect the most dangerous enemy to our Saviour of all those who came to take Him. And as it was with Christ the Head of the Church, so is it with the Church itself, and all true members of it. Their worst and most dangerous enemies are commonly intestine and home-bred enemies, which he hid amongst them, and are near them in outward society, and join in outward profession with them. These are usually worse than open and professed enemies, who are out of the Church. In the times of the Old Testament, the false prophets and counterfeit priests, and other close hypocrites which arose and sprang up in the Church itself, did more harm in it than the open and professed enemies of God's people. So in the time of the New Testament, the false apostles, heretical teachers, and false brethren, did more hurt the Church than cruel tyrants and open persecutors of the Church. As Luther used to say, "Tyrants are bad, heretics worse, but false brethren worst of all." As they are commonly most malicious, so they have most opportunity to do hurt. And as ii is in the Church of Christ in general, so also in Christian families (which are, or ought to be, as little churches), commonly a man's worst and most dangerous enemies are those of his own house, if it so fall out that these turn against him.
1. Such as make outward show of holiness and religion in their conduct before men, and yet live in secret sins unrepented of. These by their outward show of holiness seem to kiss and embrace Christ, but by their unreformed lives betray Him (Matthew 23:28; 2 Timothy 3:5).
2. Such as profess Christ and the gospel of Christ, and yet live profanely, wickedly, loosely, or scandalously, to the dishonour of Christ's name, and the disgrace of the gospel which they profess, causing it to be evil spoken of (Luke 6:46; Romans 2:24).
3. Such as pretend love to religion, and yet are secret enemies to it at heart, seeking to undermine it.
4. Such as make show of love to good Christians, but oppose them underhand and seek to bring them into trouble and disgrace (Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:26). Let us take heed we be not in the number of these false-hearted Christians; and to this end we have need diligently to examine ourselves, touching the truth and sincerity of our love to Christ and His members, and whether our hearts be sincere and upright in the profession of Christ's name and truth. Also, whether our life and practice be answerable to the profession we make; for, otherwise, we are no better than Judas, kissing Christ and yet betraying Him. We speak much against Judas, and many cry out against him for his treachery in betraying Christ with a kiss; but take heed we be not like unto him, and as bad as he, or worse in some respect.
(George Petter.)I. THE PERSON. Judas: praise. One of the chosen twelve. Our Lord must have foreseen this when He called him. The call of Judas facilitated fulfilment of Scripture. Called "the traitor" (Luke 6:16); "son of perdition" (John 17:12). Avaricious; dishonest in choice of means for securing what he may have deemed a lawful end.
II. THE MOTIVE. Various motives have been imputed.
1. Sense of duty in bringing Jesus to justice. But consider Acts 4:15, 23; Acts 5:27-40; where the high priests, etc., are silent when they might have repeated the charges of Judas. Especially note Matthew 27:4.
3. Avarice (Matthew 26:15). But had this been the chief motive, he would surely have bargained for a larger sum, and not have sold his Master for less than £4, as he did, nor would he afterwards have returned it.
4. Ambition (consider John 7:31; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 19:28), by some thought to be the true motive. To him Jesus was King. He would force Jesus to declare Himself. If Jesus were made a king, what might not he (Judas) become? He knew the power of Jesus, and thought that, at the worst, Jesus would escape from danger (Luke 6:30; John 8:59; John 10:39), hence Matthew 26:48 was ironical. He believed the Messiah would never die (John 12:34). Contrast the ambition of Judas with the lesson of humility he had heard.
5. Demoniacal possession (John 13:27).
III. THE TIME. Significant — the Feast of Passover. Type and anti-type. Multitudes at Jerusalem. Witnesses of these things (Acts 2:5-36). Many had beheld His miracles and heard of His fame in other parts. Night — a fit time for a dark deed (John 3:19).
IV. THE MANNER — a kiss. Perhaps Judas was sincere, after all, and meant this as a friendly act to force Jesus into an avowal of His kingship. If so, then one may be wrong though sincere, and mere sincerity will not save (Proverbs 16:25).
V. THE EFFECT.
1. To Judas.
2. To Jesus.
3. To ourselves.Learn —
1. God maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.
2. Official standing, a power for evil in the hands of the unprincipled and ignorant.
3. Shows of friendship may be tricks of treason (Proverbs 27:6).
4. Seek to be not only sincere, but right.
5. The fulfilment of Scripture, a proof of the Messiahship of Christ.
6. If He be the only and true Saviour, have we accepted Him?
(J. Comper Gray.)I. THE TIME OF CHRIST'S APPREHENSION. "While He yet spake." The Saviour was preparing Himself by fasting and prayer. He was exhorting and strengthening His disciples against the scandal of the cross. Now He was determined to be taken. Note here the incomprehensible providence of God, in that all the powers of the world could not apprehend Him till this time.
II. THE PERSON APPREHENDING.
1. His name. A good name; signifying blessing or praise. Yet what a wretch was he! what a discredit to his name!
2. His office. One of twelve. A disciple turned traitor.(1) Christ had admitted him not His presence only, but to His near fellowship and society.(2) Not to that only, but to apostleship.(3) He had made him steward of His house and treasurer of His family; for He entrusted him with the bag.(4) He had conferred on him high gifts of knowledge and power to work miracles. What ingratitude, then, was his!
3. His attendants.(1) A great company of soldiers.(2) To these were joined captains of the temple, and some of the chief priests and elders.(3) There were gathered to him also a great many of the priests' and elders' servants.
4. The originators of the attack. The scribes and Pharisees.
III. THE MANNER OF THE APPREHENSION. A kiss.
2. Executed. What treachery! The salutation of friendship debased to such a purpose!
(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)
Christian Age.With reference to the call of Judas to the apostleship, we look upon it as only one of the innumerable mysteries in God's moral government, which no system of philosophy can solve at all, and which even Christianity solves but in part, reserving the final answer for a higher expansion of our faculties in another world. It involves the whole problem of the relation of God to the origin of sin, and the relation of His foreknowledge and foreordination to the free agency of man. The question why Christ called and received Judas into the circle of His chosen twelve, has received three answers, none of which, however, can be called satisfactory.
1. The view held by and others, namely, that Christ elected him an apostle not, indeed, for the very purpose that he might become a traitor, but that, through his treason, as an incidental condition or necessary means, the Scriptures might be fulfilled, and the redemption of the world be accomplished. This view, as Dr. Schaff observes, although it contains an element of truth, seems, after all, to involve our Lord in some kind of responsibility for the darkest crime ever committed.
2. The Rationalistic view, which is incompatible with our Lord's Divine foresight, that Jesus foresaw the financial and administrative abilities of Judas, which might have become of great use to the Apostolic Church, but not his thievish and treacherous tendencies, which developed themselves afterwards, and He elected him solely for the former. We cannot see how this view can be held by anyone who believes in our Lord's divinity.
3. The view held by Meyer and many others, namely, that Jesus knew the whole original character of Judas from the beginning, before it was properly developed, and elected him in the hope that the good qualities and tendencies would, under the influence of His teaching, ultimately acquire the mastery over the bad. But this implies that our Lord was mistaken in His expectation, and is therefore inconsistent with His perfect knowledge of the human heart. Alford despairs of solving the difficulty.Two things are clear from this sad subject:
1. The absolute necessity of a change of heart; without this, privileges, however great, may be abused to one's destruction: and
2. The danger of covetousness, or love of the world. This seems to have been the cause of Judas's ruin. For the rest, we must leave it to the light of a higher state of existence.
(Christian Age.)I. THE ARRIVAL ON THE SCENE OF JUDAS AND HIS COMPANIONS. While Judas believed that Jesus was shortly to appear in great glory as the predicted King of the Jews, he followed Him loyally. "Hephestion," said a certain great personage of history, "loves me as Alexander, but Craterus loves me as king." So we may venture to say Judas did once upon a time love Jesus, not, indeed, as Jesus, but as king. "He was the father of all the Judases," remarks a Puritan, "who follow Him, not for love, but for loaves; not for inward excellencies, but for outward advantages; not to be made good, but to be made great."
II. THE PANIC. How are we to explain it? Was it the power of the human eye, like that by which the lion tamer quells the lion? This has been suggested by a modern critic. Was it magic? This was said by an ancient reviler. Was it all in the mere fancy of the simple folk who told the tale? This notion has found much popular favour. For my own part, believing, as I do, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, this phenomenon does not strike me as unlikely or unexpected. Pat out your hand, man, and arrest the locomotive when it comes thundering into the station, making the ground tremble; arrest the shot as it bursts blazing from the lip of the cannon; arrest the lightning as it stabs the cloud before it strikes the tree; arrest a ray of light, catch it and turn it out of its course; arrest the tidal wave, as King Canute essayed to do; arrest the force now travelling under ground, and which, as the scientific prophet tells us, is next year to burst out in many earthquakes I If you really could succeed in these arrests, and turn back these natural powers, could you arrest their Lord Himself?
III. THE CAPTURE.
IV. A BLOW STRUCK FOR JESUS — "And behold one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's and smote off his ear."
V. THE APPEARANCE OF A YOUNG MAN IN A LINEN CLOTH NEXT CLAIMS CONSIDERATION.
VI. THE GREAT FORSAKING — "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled." You pardon a politician when he forsakes a cause that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out its glaring imperfections: you pardon a theorist when he forsakes a theory that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out its fallacies; you pardon a merchant when he forsakes a concern that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out that it is hollow: you pardon one man when he forsakes another as his own confidential friend, though once, thinking him perfect, he had been ready to do any. thing or bear anything for him, with no incentive but a wish, and no reward but a smile; if now he has found him. out to be a person not safe, not true, not to be trusted. But he who forsakes Christ forsakes perfection. We can challenge any man to say that he thought Him perfect once, but that he has now found stains on that snow, spots in that sun.
(Charles Stanford, D. D.)
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