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expression of their love; doubtless, he was not dis. pleased to see his disciples so tenderly affected at his removal from them : he who shed tears at the grave of Lazarus, blended with sighs and groans, cannot be thought to forbid them wholly at his own; he, there. fore, did not chide his disciples with angry reproaches, as though they had been entirely in the wrong, but gently reasoned with them by kind persuasion, Let not */our heart be troubled, as rather pitying than condemning their sorrow. Soon after JEsus had spoken these things, his heart was greatly troubled, to think that one of his disciples should prove his enemy : he complained of it at the table, declaring that one of them should betray him. This moving declaration greatly affected the disciples, and they began every one of them to say to their Master, Lord is it I? But Jesus giving them no decisive answer, John, the beloved disciplo, whose sweet disposition and other amiable qualities, is perpetuated in the peculiar love his great Master bore him, and was now reclining on his bosom, asked him, who among the disciples could be guilty of so detestable a crime 2 JEsus told him, that the person to whom he should give the sop when he had dipped it, was he who should betray him ; accordingly as soon as he had dipped the sop in the dish, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, saying to him at the same time, That thou doest, do quickly.
Judas received the sop, without knowing any thing of what his Master had told the beloved disciple, nor did any of the disciples, except St. John, entertain the least suspicion that Judas was the person who would betray their Master. They were, indeed, so deeply affected with his declaration, that one of them should betray him, that they did not remark the words of JEsus to his apostate disciple; but continued to ask him who was the person that should be guilty of so unnatural a crime? Willing at last, to satisfy their importu. hity, the blessed JEstis declared that the person who dipped his hand with him in the dish, should betray
him. This, to the eleven, was a joyful declaration, but confounding in the highest degree, to Judas; impudent as he was, it struck him speechless, displaying the foulness of his heart, and pointing him out plainly.
Judas continued mute with confusion, while the blessed Jesus declared that his death should be brought , about according to the decrees of heaven, though that would not in the least mitigate the crime of the person who betrayed him; adding, it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Judas having now recovered himself a little, asserted his innocence, by a question which implied a negation of the charge. But his Master positively . affirming that he was the person, he was soon silenced. .
Judas Iscariot's treachery in betraying his Master, must raise the astonishment of every reader, who has any notion of the character of our great, our merciful Redeemer. It will not therefore, we hope, be disagreeable to the reader, to explain the motives that induced him to be guilty of this attrocious crime, and consider particularly the circumstances that attended so inhuman an action. Some are of opinion, that he was induced to commit this villainy by the resentment of the rebuke given him by his Master, for blaming the woman who came with the precious ointment, and anointed the head of Jesus, as he sat at meatin the house of Simon the leper—but though this had doubtless its weight with the traitor: yet it could not, I think, be the only motive, because the rebuke was given in general to all the disciples, who had, perhaps, been equally forward with him in censuring the woman; nor can we imagine, even if he had been rebuked alone, that so mild a reproof could provoke any person, however wicked, to the horrid act of murdering his friend, much less Judas, whose covetous disposition, must have disposed him to bear every thing from his Master, from whom he expected the highest preferment when he openly declared himself the Messiah, and took the
reins of government into his own hands. If it should be answered, that his resentment was so great as to hinder him from exercising his reason, I desire it may be remembered, that though he actually agreed with the chief priests, a few hours after the rebuke was given, yet he did not commit the heinous crime till two days after. -
There are others that think Judas betrayed his Master through covetousness: but if we understand by covetousness, the reward given by the priests, this opinion is equally defective; for the sum was too small for the most covetous wretch to think equivalent to the life of a friend, especially when he expected from him the highest posts and advantages. The reader will be convinced of the force of this remark, when he remembers, that all the disciples believed the Messiah's kingdom was instantly to be erected; and that according to the notion they entertained of it, each of them, especially the apostles, expected, in a very short time, to be possessed of immense riches; besides the scripture tells us, that the predominate passion of Judas was covctousness; he therefore, could not be so inconsistcnt with himsclf, as when just on the point of receiving an immense reward for his service, to exchange every thing for so trifling a sum.
But there are others that attribute the perfidy of Judas, to his doubting whether his Master was the Messiah, and that he betrayed him in a fit of despair : but of all the solutions, this is the worst founded; for, if Judas believed his Master to be an impostor, he must have observed something in his behaviour, which led him to form such an opinion of him, and, in that case, he would doubtless, have mentioned it to the chief priests and elders, when he made the contract with them, Avhich it is plain he did not, as they would have reminded him of it, when he came back and expressed his remorse for what he had done. It should also be observed, that had Judas given them any intimations of this kind, they would doubtless have urged them against our blessed Saviour himself, in the course of his trial, when they were at so great a loss for witnesses to support their accusations; and against the apostles afterwards, when they reproved them for speaking in the name of Jesus: besides, had Judas thought his Master animpostor, and proposed nothing by his treachery, but the price he put upon his life, how came he to sell him for such a trifle, when he well knew, that the chief priests and rulers would have given him any sum, rather than not have gotten him into their hands? In fine, the supposition that Judas believed his Master to be an impostor, is directly confuted by the solemn declaration he made to the priests, when he declared the deepest conviction of the innocence of our great Redeemer. I have sinned, says he, in betraying the innocent blood. And it must be remembered, that the remorse he felt for his crime, was too bitter to be endured; so that he fled even to the king of terrors for relief, after he saw his Master condemned.
However, since the treachery of Judas did not proceed from any of these motives, it may be asked, what other motive can be assigned for his conduct? The evangelist St. John tells us, that he was of so covetous a disposition, as to steal money out of our Lord's bag; and hence we have sufficient reason to believe, that he first followed Jesus, with a view of obtaining riches, and other temporal advantages, which he expected the Messiah’s friends would enjoy: it likewise authorizes us to think, that as he had hitherto reaped none of these advantages, he might grow impatient under the delay, and the rather, as Jesus had lately discouraged all ambitious views amongst his disciples, and neglected to embrace the opportunity of erecting his kingdom, which was offered him by the multitude who accompanied him into Jerusalem with shouts, and crying, Hosanna to the Son of David. His impatience, therefore becoming excessive, inspired him with the thought of delivering his
Master into the hands of the council, firmly persuaded, that he would then beobliged toassume the dignity of the Messiah, and consequently able to reward his followers: for, as this court was composed of the chief priests, elders and scribes, that is, the principal persons of the sacerdotal order, the representatives of the great families, and the doctors of the law; the traitor did not doubt, that his Master, when brought before so august an assembly, would assert his pretentions to the title of the Messiah, prove his claim to their full conviction, gain them over to his interest, and immediately enter on his regal dignity. And though he must be sensible that the measures he took to compass this intention, were very offensive to his Master; yet he might think the success of it would procure his pardon from so compassionate a Master, and even recommend him to favour. In the mean time, his project, however plausible it might appear to one of his turn, was far from being free from difficulty; and therefore while he revolved it in his own mind, many things might occur to stagger his resolution. At length, thinking himself affronted by the rebuke of Jesus, at the time when the woman anointed the head of his Master, he was provoked to execute the resolution he had formed of obliging him to alter his measures. Rising, therefore, directly from the table, he went immediately into the city, to the palace of the high priest, where he found the council assembled, consulting how they might take Jesus by subtilty, in the absence of the multitude. To them he made known his intention of delivering his Master into their hands; and undertook, for a small sum of money, to conduct a band of armed men to the place where the Saviour of the world usually spent the night with his disciples, where they might apprehend him without the least danger of tumult. Thus the great deceiver of mankind tempted him to commit the horrid action, by laying hold of the various passions that now agitated the traitor's breast.
It may be gathered from the nature of the contract,