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the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude, with swords and staves."
These words contain the first preparative act, on their part, for the death of Christ, even to betray him, and that by one of his own disciples. Now they execute what they had plotted, ver. 14, 15. And,
1. We have here a description of the traitor: and it is remarkable how carefully the several evangelists have described him, both by his name, surname, and office, Judas-Judas Iscariot--Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve ;" that he might not be mistaken for Jude or Judas the apostle. God is tender of the name and reputation of his upright servants. His office, one of the twelve," is added to aggravate the sin and to show how that prophecy was accomplished in him, "Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Ps. 41: 9. Lo, this was the traitor, and this was his name and office. 2. You have a description of the treason, or an account of what this man did. He led an armed multitude to the place where Christ was, gave them a signal to discover him, and encouraged them to lay hands on him, and hold him fast. This the devil put into his heart, employing the lust of covetousness, which was predominant there. What will not a carnal heart attempt, if the devil suit a temptation to the predominant lust, and God withhold restraining grace!
3. You have here the way in which the hellish plot was executed. It was managed both with force and with fraud. He comes with a multitude, armed with swords and staves, in case they should meet with any resistance. And he comes to him with a kiss, which was his signal, lest they should mistake the man. For they aimed neither at small nor great, save only at the King of Israel, the King of glory. Here was much ado, you see, to take a harmless Lamb, that did not once start
from them, but freely offered himself up to them. And, 4. Observe when this treasonable design was executed upon Christ. It was while he stood among his disciples, exhorting them to prayer and watchfulness, dropping heavenly and most seasonable counsels. "While he yet spake, lo, Judas, and with him a multitude, came with swords and staves." Surely, then, it is no better than a Judas' plot to disturb and afflict the servants of God in the discharge of their duties. Hence,
It was the lot of our Lord Jesus Christ to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies by a false ana pretended friend.
Look, as Joseph was betrayed and sold by his brethren; David by Ahithophel, his old friend; Samson by Delilah, that lay in his bosom; so Christ by Judas, one of the twelve; a man, his friend, his familiar, that had been so long conversant with him: he that by profession had lifted up his hand to Christ, now by treason lifts up his heel against him; he bids the soldiers bind those blessed hands that not long before had washed the traitor's feet.
We will here consider the character of Judas, and the relations he sustained to Christ; his treason, in its several aggravations; the motives by which he was governed; and the issue of this treason, both as to Christ and as to himself.
I. Judas was eminent by reason of the dignity to which Christ had raised him. He was one of the twelve; one retained not in a more general and common, but in the nearest and most intimate and honorable relation to Jesus Christ. There were in the time of Christ secret disciples; men that believed, but kept their stations, and abode with their relations in their callings. There were also seventy whom Christ sent forth; but none of these were so much with Christ, or so eminent in respect of their place, as the twelve; they were Christ's
family: it was the highest dignity that was conferred upon any: and of this number was Judas.
And being one of the twelve, he was daily conversant with Christ; often joined him in prayer, often sat at his feet, hearing his gracious words. It was one of Augustine's three wishes, that he had seen Christ in the flesh : Judas not only saw him, but dwelt with him, traveled with him, and ate and drank with him. And during the whole time of his abode with him, all Christ's conduct towards him was obliging and winning; yea, such was the condescension of Christ to this wretched man, that he washed his feet, and that but a little before he betrayed him.
In some respect, he was preferred to the rest. For he had not only a joint commission with them to preach the Gospel to others, (though, poor unhappy wretch, himself became a castaway,) but he had a peculiar office, he bare the bag, that is, he was almoner, or the steward of the family, to take care to provide for the necessary accommodations of Christ and them. Now who could ever have suspected that such a man as this should have sold the blood of Christ for a little money? that ever he should have proved a perfidious traitor to his Lord, who had called him, honored him, and dealt with him so tenderly?
II. But what did this man do? and what are the just aggravations of his sin? He most basely and unworthily sold and delivered Christ into his enemies' hands, to be put to death; and all this for thirty pieces of silver. Blush, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth, at this! In this sin, most dark and horrid aggravations appear.
Judas had seen the majesty of a God in him whom he betrayed. He had seen the miracles that Christ wrought, which none but Christ could do. He knew that by the finger of God he had raised the dead, cast out devils, and healed the sick. He could not but see the beams
of Divine majesty shining in his very face, in his doctrine, and in his life.
Yea, he committed this wickedness after personal warnings and premonitions given him by Christ; he had often told them in general, that one of them should betray him. Mark, 14: 18. He also denounced a dreadful wo upon him that should do it: "The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him; but wo to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good had it been for that man if he had never been born." Verse 21. This was spoken in Judas' presence. And one would have thought so dreadful a doom as Christ denounced upon the man that should attempt this, should have driven him from the thought of such wickedness. Nay, Christ came nearer to him than this, and told him he was the man for when Judas (who was the last that put the question to Christ) asked him, "Master, is it I?" Christ's answer imports as much as a plain affirmation, "Thou hast said." Matt. 26: 25.
Moreover, he did it not out of a blind zeal against Christ, as many of his other enemies did; of whom it is said that, "had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." 1 Cor. 2:8; but he did it for money. "What will ye give me, and I will betray him?" Matt. 26: 15. He sells him, and he sells him at a low rate too; which showed what a grovelling estimate he had of Christ. He can part with him for thirty pieces of silver. If these pieces were the shekels of the sanctuary, they amounted but to three pounds fifteen shillings. But it is supposed they were the common shekels, which were mostly used in buying and selling; and then his price, that he put upon the Saviour of the world, was but one pound seventeen shillings and sixpence. A goodly price (as the prophet calls it) that he was valued at! Zech. 11: 12, 13. I confess it is a wonder that he asked no more, knowing how much they
longed for his blood; and that they offered no more for him. But how then should the Scriptures have been fulfilled! Oh what a sale was this! to sell that blood, of which all the gold and silver in the world is not worth one drop, for a trifle! Still the wickedness of the sin rises higher and higher.
He left Christ in a most heavenly employment, when he went to make this soul-undoing bargain. For if he went away from the table, as some think, then he left Christ instituting and administering those heavenly signs of his body and blood: there he saw, or might have seen, the bloody work he was going about, acted as in a figure before him. If he tarried through the ordinance, as others suppose he did, then he left Christ singing a heavenly hymn, and preparing to go where Judas was preparing to meet him.
Besides, what he did was not done by the persuasions of any. The high priest sent not for him, and without doubt was surprised when he came to him on such an errand. For it could never enter into any of their hearts that one of his own disciples could be drawn into a confederacy against him. No, he went as a volunteer, offering himself to this work: which still heightens the sin, and makes it out of measure heinous.
The manner in which he executes his treasonable design adds further malignity to the deed. He comes to Christ with fawning words and demeanor, "Hail, Master, and kissed him." Here is honey in the tongue, and poison in the heart. Let us inquire,
III. The cause and motives of this wickedness, how he came to attempt and perpetrate such a villany. Maldonate the jesuit criminates the protestant divines for affirming that God had a hand in ordering and overruling this fact. But we say that Satan and his own lust were the impulsive cause of it: that God, as it was a wicked treason, permitted it; and as it was a delivering of