"Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit foretold through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus.
Apostles. What he reports St. Peter as saying is not in verbal harmony with what St. Matthew says. But there is not the slightest difficulty in seeing the way to a real and perfect harmony. The only difficulty is in declaring absolutely that one way and not another is the authoritative harmony. That Judas fell headlong and burst asunder" is a very easy sequel to his "hanging himself." And that the chief priests took counsel, and determined to buy with the abandoned thirty pieces of silver the potter's field, and to devote it to the burial of strangers, is also a very conceivable sequel. It may be it was but the carrying into effect of a bargain which the covetousness of Judas had contemplated and had arranged for - all but the transfer of the money and the thereby "completion of purchase." The chief priests hear of this, and in their perplexity and desire to get rid of the accursed thirty pieces of silver, they close at once with the proposing vendor, whoever he was; but while they devote their purchase to an object the same, the purpose was very different from that which Judas had grown in a covetous mind. We may be tolerably sure he bought for some sort of further gain. They adapt (adsit omen) to a burial-ground. Once, such an end to such a career, of a professed disciple of the Lord, was unique, and then, for that reason, it would fascinate study. It not long remained so, alas! and for that reason, that practical, alarming reason, it has been suggesting for centuries, and still to this day it suggests - ay, it demands - solemn, heart-searching study. Let us get beneath our eye -
I. WHAT INFORMATION WE HAVE TO REST UPON IN FORMING A JUDGMENT RESPECTING JUDAS AND HIS CHARACTER.
1. He was called in the same way as, at all events, a majority of the whole number of the twelve disciples were called. So far as we know, there was nothing special or emphatic in the circumstances that accompanied his call (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19). St. John says nothing whatever of the call of Judas; but that he knew something about it is evident from his allusion to Christ's foreknowledge (John 6:64, 70, 71). Why Christ, with his admitted perfect foreknowledge, did call Judas to be an immediate attendant upon him, is a question that cannot be answered, perhaps. But three things may be remarked upon it:
(1) That Christ certainly did not do Judas harm, but gave him the grandest possible opportunity of help towards subduing whatever may have been his master-sin, by permitting his special and constant association with him and his other disciples.
(2) That at all events Christ did not, in calling Judas to the circle of his disciples, call one who would betray another, and have favorable opportunity of betraying another thereby, but only himself. Jesus bore all the pain and suffered all the loss of what he did himself; he did not scatter harm in the path of others.
(3) That after all, in deep principle, Jesus did nothing different from what has ever since been transpiring under his Name, wherever his Name is known. His Church now - and his Church is his representative - admits within its most really hallowed enclosure many a traitor. It is true, not with foreknowledge; it is true, pleading ever, as its apology when discovered, its own confessed fallibility; and, let it be true also, that it is this which strikes us as constituting the difference. But is it to be so regarded? Without leaving out of sight for one moment Christ's foreknowledge and infallibility of foreknowledge, we must bring into sight the fact that this is traversed by another most evident principle and practice on the part of Jesus, which reveal him ever beforehand sharing the lot of his Church, and intending to share it in disappointment, in deception on the part of others, in woe as in weal. On much the same principle that Jesus did not take advantage of his ability to command stones into bread, so he does not take certain kinds of advantage from his foreknowledge. And what we have under consideration is exactly one of these kind. There are ample and significant indications that the one expression, Jesus called unto him "whom he would" (Mark 3:13), and our own willing estimate of his superlative knowledge, are to be balanced with other considerations, both such as arise from disciples' choice and disciples' volunteering (John 1:37-42), and from the essential facts of human nature. At all events, we do not know that Judas was not a volunteer. He may have been an ardent, enthusiastic volunteer; he may have been a financial expert of his rank and day, who seems to sacrifice bright business prospects in following Jesus, who takes credit, too, for it, and who by general consent becomes designated treasurer so soon as a treasurer was wanted (Luke 8:3, and elsewhere). Do we not know something today of the busy and clever and ready-tongued volunteer, and of his entrance within the pale of the Church visible? It may, in passing, just be noted that in the three parallel Gospels the name of Judas always stands last, and is attended by the evangelistic remark, merely posthumous, that he was the traitor of his Master.
2. From the announcement of the call of the twelve disciples up to now, the closing days of Christ's life, not a syllable is to be read of Judas, except the damnatory remark of John 6:71. The question of Jesus preceding that running comment belonged, of course, strictly to the occasion, but the running comment itself is merely historic. But the closing days are now come. And they bring this man to the fore.
(1) He finds fault (or otherwise leads the fault-finding of himself and some others) with the loving devotion of a woman who, for priceless mercy received, brings the only present she knows to bring - a present, no doubt, of what was costliest in her treasures, and admitted by all to be both precious and costly - ointment with which to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. And Judas says, "It's waste." And Judas asks, "Why was it not sold, and the hard cash put into the Master's bag for the poor, which I carry?" Yes, and the Evangelist St. John adds, probably in the light of after developments, from which he carried too, i.e. from which he stole. And Judas incurred the silencing and reproof of the Master, and he does not forget that reproof. This was late as the fourth day of the fatal week.
(2) At the end, or immediately after the end of the very next day (equivalent to the evening which led in the sixth day), Judas also asks, "Is it I?" when the question was - Who among those twelve there was the traitor? and he is pronounced, by the lip and the hand of Jesus, the traitor; and he withdraws from the solemn, sacred, pathetic Supper scene! And again he goes with a word of the Master in his hearing, nor forgets it either.
(3) Now but a few hours of night-time pass, when Judas reappears. It is into the Garden of Gethsemane - a place he knew, because he had been there often with a Master who loved to go there olden - that he enters, no longer, for ever and ever no longer, the disciple of Jesus, but now the leader of a band, who lighted a way, that surely much needed light, "with lanterns and torches," and who bore "swords and staves" (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12). With a word and a kiss Judas betrays his recent Master, who asks him one gentle question, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" And like a shadow Judas vanishes again from our sight.
(4) Once more, and once more only, does Judas come himself before us. He comes to show a certain violent repenting, an attempt at some sort of restitution and unreserved confession of his own individual sin; and for these the treatment that he gets from "the chief priests and elders" seems to ripen remorse and madden despair, and, witness against himself, and jury, and judge, he becomes his own swift executioner also, all four in one terrible demonstration! It stands a witness to the end of time (and there cannot in this instance be a doubt that eternity looks on) of the avenging force that couches in ambush, in the being in whom God has implanted a moral constitution, when that constitution is keenly affronted, wounded to the quick repeatedly, and in aggravated form sinned against! Woe is to that being; it had been better for him that he had never been born! And now we have exhausted all the actual information recorded for us respecting the career of Judas. Let us ask -
II. WHAT DEDUCTIONS REGARDING THE REAL CHARACTER OF JUDAS WE MAY BE WARRANTED TO DRAW FROM THESE MATERIALS. It has Been often thought that the key to the opening of his character is held out to us in the one word covetousness, This impression must be supposed to have been derived from the two facts - that he filched from "the bag," and that he asked money for the iniquitous volunteered enterprise of being "guide to them that took Jesus." The foundation is perhaps something slander for what is built upon it. Likely enough his tendencies may have looked this way. He may have known a shade too well the use and "the love of money;" but evidence there is none that he loved money as a miser loves it. Nor did it seem to stick to his fingers as it does to those of an essentially covetous man - not, for instance, when he threw it down on the temple floor at the priests' feet. May not other causes, that moved in deeper groove, and mined their unsuspected approaches in darker and more tortuous channel, have determined this monstrous deformity of growth? We believe that we have before us, in the unenviable, unwelcome riddle of this character:
1. A man to whom ambition (very probably native to him) was the misguiding, the fatuous, the disastrous light. This covetousness was in him; it had been looking out for its own food; it had comparatively long time looked in vain. But now, in what the history of two thousand years, perhaps rather of four thousand years, has shown to be the most dangerous direction of all, the opportunity seemed to open itself within the ecclesiastical sphere. He sees and snatches at the opportunity. Here is a manifest novelty - Jesus! His pretensions are great, and are far from lacking probability, The mighty works he does are supported by significant indications, though not so popular, by mighty words, and deeper still by the framework of cherished prophecies not unknown to Judas, and with which just now the very air, natural, political, religious, is rife. The thought enters his mind to become a disciple - it is not altogether business, for his heart owns to a gentle upheaving of enthusiasm towards Jesus. He essays to become a disciple, puts himself in the way, keeps near and in the right company, and finds himself "called" in the sacred circle. Adventure, religiousness, and a practical good chance seemed all combined.
2. A man with an immense power of self-deception. No form of deception is more aggravated in its character and in its effects than self-deception. The victimizer is the same with the victim. The deadliest harm suffered from another may have, even in the supreme moment, some possible compensation for the sufferer, in high moral feeling, in the exercise of high moral grace, such as forgiveness, or patience under unmerited, uncaused suffering, nay, in the bare thought that one is suffering through another. For now, at all events, the vicariousness of suffering, in a wide range of degree, has a charm of real glory. But to have the very faculty of self-deception is to have one of the worst of enemies while character grows, one of the most vengeful of enemies when the day of settlement comes. And Judas, whether in aiming to become a disciple or in only consenting to it, had little idea of the amount of his unfittedness for it. And so the months that flew on increased the unfittedness and the ignorance by equal strides.
3. A man of amazing power of veiling his real self behind an impassive exterior, when he gradually came to know that real self, and of keeping his own secret.
(1) Was it not getting time for conscience to show itself in the cheek for Judas, when Jesus said, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
(2) Was ever more perilous stuff pent up in the breast, and yet not a sign of it on the countenance, nor even in a faltering tone of voice, when, that Last Supper evening, Judas found himself compelled to join the inquirers, and brought his lips also to say, "Lord, is it I?"
(3) Was it not the very incarnation of the own devil's deliberateness and of matchless coolness when Judas not only headed the cowed procession, armed with swords and staves, and lighted with lanterns and torches, into the garden, but that, when he "fell to the ground," he had nerve enough so soon to find his feet, and to go on with his work as though he had not fallen, and surpassed himself in then stepping forth to the very van of the troop, who had hitherto covered him in part - to say "Hail!" to the Master, no longer his, and to "kiss" him? The very highest moral efforts have been sometimes accomplished just so much the more effectively because they have been accompanied by a certain force of moral nervous exertion. On this occasion the very highest immoral effort bore witness to a destitution of nervous sensibility hitherto incredible. Surely to the end of the world Judas will hold all his own the first place for secretiveness and deliberateness and unperturbedness, both in darkest design and in execution of it. His calm, balanced, impassive bearing serves him with every one, except with him "who knows the hearts of all men."
4. A man who, finding that he is playing a losing game, or thinking so, dares to attempt to retrieve what he counts his error, by heading a dark and desperate scheme, and by providing himself (for this was the probable reason of his occasional "thefts," and of his asking payment for the betrayal) with something in compensation of the "all he had left," together with the other disciples, when he first "followed" Jesus. However, now he stakes "all" on one cast - the event too clearly demonstrates it. He shows himself not the man to bear disappointment and loss, especially when riled, as he probably now felt, by a conviction of having suffered under some delusion. He is not of the temper to brook a practical affront, let it have come whence or how it may! He refuses to remain partners with inward discontent one unnecessary, one avoidable hour! And not the first man of the kind, though the undoubted first of the solemn pitch of enormity, he miscalculates - awfully miscalculates - the hour, and in another hour is falling into the lowest Tophet, under the name of "the son of perdition"! So fell the selfish and typical gambler of this world and time.
5. A man - emphatically not "stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted," but - whose branded heart and seared conscience were stricken of God, being restored for one moment to their maximum vitality, that moment their very last! It is impossible to account for the previous phenomena of the history of Judas as recorded, and for this fierce end of his career, without believing that he had long been hardening - heart and conscience grievously and dreadfully injured. Nemo fit repente turpissimus. And Peter, the thrice-denier, stands close by Judas, the betrayer, to point with Heaven's own method of distinctness the difference. The death-struggle not unfrequently has witnessed to the measure of life that body and mind together can claim. And supineness has suddenly snatched and for a moment wielded the weapons of preternatural, if not supernatural, force. And it must be that this was the philosophy of Judas doing these three things at once - "repenting himself," "confessing his sin," and "hanging himself." The third of this series interprets for us the former two. The man who breaks thus, breaks because he is intrinsically weak. The keenest potency of feeling, the fullest, simplest confession of sin, the unequivocal renunciation of his unholy gain, and this all in the right arena, in face of the priests and on the temple floor - and yet these not followed by mercy and forgiveness, but blackened to sight by a self-inflicted dog's death - must proclaim a man strengthless, hopeless, for ever the disinherited "son of perdition." Let us ask -
III. WHAT IMPLICATIONS MAY BE INVOLVED IN THE STRANGE AND REMARKABLY STRONG EXPRESSION HERE APPLIED TO JUDAS, AS DESCRIPTIVE OF THE END OF HIS EARTHLY CAREER. St. Peter says that Judas "fell by transgression" from his apostleship, "that he might go to his own place." It can scarcely be that Peter, who rose to speak thus in the midst of his "brethren," should entirely forget how near he himself bad been to falling from his apostleship; and yet there are essential considerations so differencing the two cases that we could imagine it possible that, in real fact, he never connected them for so much as a moment in his own mind. This the difference - not that, having strayed, Peter so soon and with so genuine a penitence came back, and not that he had been perfectly sincere and was so sound at heart still, but - that, though he undoubtedly fell suddenly by transgression (as Judas fell suddenly), he did not fall "that he might go to his own place." He fell that he might get more estranged from "his own place," and, regaining his footing, might find himself nearer "placed" to his Master, and safer far than before. It is very noticeable that St. Peter does not say that Judas went "to his own place" because he." fell by transgression," but that his fall, come at by distinct and flagrant transgression such as admitted neither defense nor palliation, made his own way to his own place. Some make a bridge of escape, and some cut off from their enemies or for higher reasons from themselves a bridge of escape, but Judas, "by transgression," actually bridges a way of destruction for himself; yes, "by transgression" so pronounced, so aggravated, so enormous, but which drew its greatest, its most distinctive peculiarities from what was antecedent to it. Its long roots lay in a long past. From these it was nourished till it became monstrous. Harder than it is to "pluck a rooted sorrow from the memory" did Judas find it, arrived at a certain point, to pluck himself from "his own" destruction. The disease will now have its course. The road leads to a visible precipice, but Judas cannot stop his driving. The stream bears irresistibly to the gulf. To what do these things point? What were the antecedent peculiarities?
1. Very strong individuality of character ungoverned. Such may make very fine character. But it needs very skilful management, very strict observation; a very firm hand must be kept upon it. Let it be ever remembered that it is not likely to be and is not on side issues that the battle of character, of life, of destiny, is fought. And it is not on side issues that any man's "own place" is determined. And this is the reason why human judgments of self or of others are so often wrong, because they are so prone to be arrested by the glitter or else the glare of what may be a most minor point, a mere detail, a really side issue, instead of being of the very web and woof. A man's "own place" is neither determined nor ascertained by the side issues, which are so often all that lie visible. But there are some potencies of character that do, or otherwise undo, the work. A certain strong persistence of some force - a thought, a taste, a wish, a passion. And when a man has a character of this sort, his best friend has one gospel to preach to him - this, that his work lies clear as noonday before him; he has an option of trembling significance before him; he is set to master or to be mastered, to guide and rule and rise high as the angels, or - to be lured, drawn, dragged, driven, all the appalling way down to "his own place"!
2. Splendid opportunities grossly neglected. The same phenomena and facts of character and of growth to the very end, may and naturally must be true anywhere, any time. But as the "own place" of Judas was different from what could be the "own place" of vast numbers to whom for instance the very name of Christ is unknown, so it is fair to take into account the fact that his opportunities were, for his time of day and for every time of day to which they could apply, literally splendid. The principle will be very rarely unobservable, that in proportion as opportunity was good, gross neglect of it made the surest ill end, yet surer. And make whatever deductions possible, the opportunities of any one of the twelve disciples were splendid - then certainly none more splendid than they. To see, to hear, to watch such excellence, the excellence of naturalness, of simplicity, of perfect truth, of tenderest human kindness, of superhuman holiness, - was it not splendid opportunity? To have the personal inspection, occasional correction, deep-sighted suggestions, and high warnings, not unmingled with gracious encouragement that never bore a tint of flattery, - was it not splendid time of opportunity? To root confidence in such a Worker, not of gaping wonders but of majestic beneficence, - was it not splendid opportunity? In brief, to witness that activity, to hear that teaching, to study that Model, was a mass of opportunity that all the world beside could not give, and that all the world beside ought not to have been able to take away. But Judas let the world, or a small portion of the world, take it away - nay, he pitched it away himself. And he did this to get on to "his own place."
3. The fearful irritation (working sometimes underneath even the calmest exterior) of an unreal religious profession. The horrors of a false position must be counted to be in good truth multiplied infinitely when the false position lies within the domain of religion, and when it consists in the unreality of the person, rather than in merely a temporary unsuitableness to him of the place or the niche in which he has got fixed. In the recesses of a lowly spirit, in the calm retreat and silent shade of religious meditation, in the all-sacred shrine of deepest self-surrender and self-consecration, what music of angels, what whisperings of the Spirit, what tones of Jesus himself, are heard, and what peace that passeth understanding steals blissfully in! But of the vacant hollows of religious unreality, mocking echoes are the tenants habitual, and winds of the most dismal wail wander endless in them! The heart of Judas was not in his work these three years. His concealed irritation must often have been severe. His thoughts were neither where his hands or lips were, and chagrin was often his meat day and night together. His life was joyless; and as the sun ripens all good fruits and many a bad fruit too, so as surely, though strangely, does the sunlessness of joylessness ripen with fearful rapidity and affect the ill fruits of the hypocrite and of religious unreality. And, beyond any doubt, it had been so now with Judas. Irritation, inside and unseen, brings, in bodily disease, many an unhealthy humor to the surface, and out of these forms the loathsome tumor, not infrequently fatal. It is so with the burnouts and the turnouts of a religious profession, career, and office, destitute of reality. In no other directions do disease and inward injury rankle to so deadly effect. Judas is a great Scripture typical warning against the profession, the work, the ministry, and the dignity of religion assumed for whatsoever reason, and by whomsoever, without reality. This is par excellence the usurpation that finds "its own fall, while the usurper falls by some "transgression," little matter what, to find "his own place."
4. The suffering to drift along a huge moral wrong in character and life. Judas was guilty, certainly, of such moral wrong. He was guilty of it in three directions as it affected his professed Master, as it affected his so-called fellow-disciples, and of necessity most of all as it concerned his own soul. If a man lets any serious wrong in his earthly affairs drift, it is not long before he finds it out, for it finds him out. Business rarely indeed drifts right of itself. But wrong never drifts right. Least of all does that highest fashion of moral wrong ever drift right, when the question lies in the domain that brings into contact that which is or ought to be highest in ourselves with that which is indisputably highest out of ourselves. All here is matter of consciousness, of real life, of spirit. It is past us altogether to say, what we almost irresistibly imagine, that Judas was often on the point of making a clean breast of it; but it is not past us to say that during those three years conscience must have often urged him to confess his mistake, to resign the livery he wore, to quit the Master's shamed service, and the disciples' shamed society. In that event there would have been "room for repentance;" there would have been room for help; there would have been room to remonstrate, to rebuke, to revive some spark of grace, to recover yet a soul alive. From some loving brother he might have heard anticipated the words, "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" and again, "It is impossible for those who were once enlightened... if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance." And the falling away might have been at the last averted. But no! Judas has no mercy on his own soul, because he will not be faithful even to it. The betrayer of his Master is the man to be the betrayer of himself. At every turn the career of Judas is fraught with solemn lessons for every one to whom the grace of discipleship to the Lord Jesus is offered. The character of the test ordained for him is scarcely less plainly or less concisely written than that ordained for our first parents. Yet, nevertheless, thousands of years have not passed away morally in vain in the world's history. And in place of the test of an humble, practical obedience to one individual and merely physical command, the probation for Judas, and for every one of ourselves, is self-consecration to Jesus, Master and Savior, without one reservation, and personal holiness the sequel. - B.
Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled... concerning Judas.
I. LET US PREMISE ONE OR TWO OBSERVATIONS UPON THE CHARACTER OF JUDAS; for bad as this was, it may by possibility be misrepresented. We see no reason to believe that Judas had any design on the life of his Master, for, seeing the consequences of his treachery, he was tern with mortification and remorse. He might have supposed it highly improbable that, by placing Christ in the hands of His enemies, he would have been instrumental in His death; for the Jews had then no legal power of putting to death; and it was not likely that the Romans would pay attention to their accusations. Judas then may have calculated that all that could be done to Christ would be putting some restraint upon His person, and preventing Him from further propagating the religion, by whose precepts he himself was condemned.
II. We shall proceed, on this supposition, in TRACING THE ENDS WHICH THE TREACHERY SUBSERVED. You may imagine that the traitor seized a favourable opportunity of indulging his avarice, and of stopping the diffusion of a religion, which, as a money-grasping man, he must have cordially disliked, Now, if he had been possessed of any information which at all tended to invalidate its truth, how eagerly would he have adduced it, and the chief priests have received it! The mere putting to death was as nothing compared with the proving Him a deceiver. And yet Judas, eager as he was for money, and anxious to crush the new religion, has no intelligence to give which may disprove Christ's pretensions. This is amongst the strongest of proofs that Christ was "a teacher sent from God."
1. Our Lord's pretensions rested chiefly on His miracles, so that to show deceit in the one would have over. thrown the other. Infidelity will sometimes argue that there might have been collusion in the miracles. Now, had this been the case, Judas must have known it, and if Judas must have known, this would have been a fine piece of intelligence to have sold to the chief priests, and by communicating it he would at once have enriched himself and destroyed Christianity. Nay, he would have done a righteous deed; and while gratifying his avarice, he would have laid up no food for remorse.
2. The infant religion might have been assailed with at least equal power through the moral character of its Founder. And one of the most beautiful arguments by which we may defend Christianity is derived from the more than human purity of Christ. And if it were possible to invalidate in the least degree the truth that Christ "did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth," the whole system would fall to the ground. Mark, that "the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death; and they found none." Yet they were bargaining with Judas, one of His intimate associates, who must have been accurately acquainted with all the flaws, if such there were, in His character. In the silence of this traitor in selling his Master, we find irresistible attestation to the fact that Christ Jesus was indeed "a lamb without blemish and without spot."
3. The prophecies might have been frustrated. It had been declared, in Zechariah, that the Messiah should be sold for thirty pieces of silver, and this price be given to the potter. Now had the chief priest and scribes offered more than thirty pieces, or had Judas been contented with fewer, or had the price of blood, when returned by the traitor, been spent on the land of any but a potter, there would have been a defect in the evidence that Jesus was the Christ. And the infatuated rulers could not see this. Perhaps they drove a hard bargain with Judas, beating him down till they reached the exact sum which prophecy specified as the number of the pieces of metal. They never thought, when exulting that they had bought Jesus at the price of a slave, that they had completed the evidence of His being their king. The like may be said of the potter's field. With all their profligacy, they were scrupulous in touching the money; and therefore will they use it in proving Jesus the Christ. It shall buy the potter's field — the only purpose to which it can be turned; and after being the price of His blood it shall serve to prove His commission. The only prophecies with which infidelity could be successfully pressed are those in which it is impossible that the parties professedly interested should have planned or procured the accomplishment. Nothing can more directly answer this commission than those which have reference to the compact with Judas. Conclusion: This is our consolation whilst "the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing" — we know that the will of our Creator shall take effect. Hostility and malice and treachery shall prevail nothing against the Lord and His Christ. They shall but defend and consolidate the Church. Judas Iscariot vindicates the Master he betrayed, and sustains the cause from which he apostatised. Therefore need we be nothing dismayed if the wicked combine to oppose Christianity. There is one that sits above the tempest, and so directs it, that its fury shall be spent on those by whom it has been raised.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. THERE ARE TWO WAYS TO TAKE CHRIST.
1. Faith takes Jesus. It takes Christ at His word.(1) In His promises.(2) In His warnings, when He directs the life by those careful provisions and restrictions which are found everywhere in His Word.(3) In His precepts, when it strives to obey that which He commands, to submit to that which He appoints.(4) In His person.(5) In His covenanted presence in this world by the Spirit.
2. Falseness takes Christ. Inspired by hatred of His words, by restlessness under His control, by uncongeniality with His spirit, it cries, "I will not; have this man to reign over me." And when that spirit of opposition is developed there is no mode of destruction too vile for falseness to accept. The world is full of those who are controlled by this hostility. Opposition to Jesus among men only lacks leadership; and whensoever such a guide is found they covenant with him even to a costly sacrifice if he will deliver the Jesus of the Church into their hands. Pilate's timidity, and Herod's overweening, weak curiosity, are bad enough in condemning Christ; but He says, "He that delivered Me unto thee hath the greater sin." It is not enough that the Judas who guides this hostility should plead his own freedom from violence. He adds meanness to his other sins when he shirks the responsibility he has assumed. There are multitudes who need no accusers before God's throne. There are those who confess that they are opponents, and mean to be such, and whose only apology is, "At all events, we do not profess to be anything better," and in God's book of remembrance their apology becomes their accusation. Then there are those who say, "We know the truth perfectly." Then, brother, if thy life is still against Christ, when thou shalt stand before that terrible bar thine own faith shall testify against thee. Of all dooms there is none so dreadful as that of him who strives to hold the privilege of professed discipleship, and yet is a guide to them that take Jesus.
II. THREE STEPS WHICH SUCH A GUIDE MUST TAKE. Only three? How short a journey it is! David sums it up with other words in his first Psalm. The likeness of Judas' life in these three respects can be traced, I fear, in that of some of us.
1. He counsels with Jesus' enemies.
2. He reveals His hiding.
3. He perverts a profession of affection.
(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)He foreknew nothing. Volition is as perfect, the will is as unfettered in the one case as it would or could be in the other. Simple foreknowledge, as distinguished from absolute predestination, is founded on free agency, and in no way does it influence or control it. The very certainty by which it is characterised is the result of free agents acting as they please, of rational intelligences ranging at large in the wide field of unrestrained liberty. If men are not saved, it is because they refuse to be saved, and for no other cause; and hence we may well ask, Where is the humility, where is the wisdom, where is the piety, of persons disquieting their minds, because their Creator is an omniscient Intelligence, and because the attribute of omniscience involves foreknowledge and certainty? You will observe that I have confined myself to the point of foreknowledge, leaving that of predestination, excepting incidently, untouched. I have done so because I consider it as irrelevant to the case of Judas, and not propounded, either directly or by implication, in the text. Predestination stands closely connected with sovereignty; and sovereignty has exclusively to do with the bestowment of good; exerting itself solely in acts of beneficence; decreeing blessings, not curses; ordaining men to life, not dooming them to destruction. At the same time, I cannot refrain from saying, in reference to predestination, that, in a practical point of view, it presents, so far as I can judge, no greater difficulties to the mind than those connected with foreknowledge. It is equally consistent with the freedom of man as a rational agent, with the universality of gospel offers, and with the fulness of gospel grace. Conclusion:
1. The subject we have considered constitutes a loud call to humanity. Instead of cavilling at difficulties, let us resolve them into the imperfection of mortal vision; and, instead of boasting our mental powers, let us lie prostrate at the Divine footstool, as those who feel their own littleness, and are sensible how blind and ignorant they are, in reference to heavenly things.
2. The subject should guard us against the error of suffering ourselves to be fettered by any human system. Let promises and precepts, doctrines, and duties, decrees and responsibilities, occupy the places assigned to them on the page of Scripture; and what God has joined together let not the presumptuous hand of man dare to put asunder.
3. The contemplation of God's foreknowledge should never be engaged in otherwise than in close connection with gospel promises and gospel precepts. God knows no such character as a sincere inquirer shut out from mercy's gate; and sooner shall the sun be shorn of its beams — sooner shall the rainbow discharge its beauteous colours — than a praying soul shall perish, because Divine foresight takes cognizance of human destination.
4. The doctrine of Divine foreknowledge, as taught in Scripture directly and inferentially, tends, when duly apprehended, through a spiritual medium, both to impart comfort, and to prompt exertion. In proportion as faith and hope ripen into assurance, the soul is perceptibly strengthened for the performance of its active duties; and on the same principle, the certainty of Divine foreknowledge, irradiated with the bright beams of evangelical promise, so stimulates the believer's energies Chat he becomes "ready to every good work" — "steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."
(Wm. Knight, M. A.)
1. How great a sin avarice is, and to what a depth of wickedness it precipitates a man.
2. How deep the fall of those who fall from great grace and from high privileges.
3. How grievous the sin of desperation. It was this which made the difference between the sin of the traitor and that of the denier.
(Cornelius Lapide.)cf. Josephus, "Jewish Wars," 6:1-6), a fact not contradictory, but additional, to the circumstances mentioned in Matthew 27:5, where the word is the same as that used by the LXX. concerning Ahithophel. Theophylact explained that the rope broke, Judas having flung himself off some height. It will be remembered that ten thousand Idumean captives, cast down from the top of a rock, after Amaziah's victory, "were all broken in pieces" (2 Chronicles 25:12).
(C. Geikie, D. D.)Matthew 27:8), and, according to received tradition, stained with the blood of Judas. The name would remind Jewish readers of that bloodshedding, the consequences of which had been invoked on themselves and on their children. The place commonly shown as Aceldama has ever been famous on account of the sarcophagus virtue possessed by the earth in hastening the decay of dead bodies. Shiploads of it were carried to the Campo Santo in Pisa.
1. This sin works ruin, first, by providing an unhealthful stimulant.
2. Again, this sin works ruin by killing industry.
3. Furthermore, this sin is the source of dishonesty.
4. Notice also the effect of this crime upon domestic happiness.
(T. de Witt Talmage.)Psalm 69:25, with some compression of LXX., and a variation in the number of the pronoun from plural to singular, by which Judas is taken as a representative of Christ's enemies. This Psalm, quoted in the New Testament oftener than any other, except 22., is pre-eminently Messianic. Ver. 9 is applied to Christ by John (John 2:17); the words immediately following by Paul (Romans 15:3); and the fulfilment of ver. 21 is noted by John (John 19:28-30). The second quotation is taken with verbal exactness from LXX., Psalm 109:8 — the Iscariot Psalm. The conduct of Judas warranted the identifying him with Doeg and Ahithophel. David and his enemies are treated as types of Christ and His enemies. And after the exposition given by our Lord (Luke 24:44), it is out of the question to impute to Peter misunderstanding or misapplication.
LinksActs 1:16 NIV
Acts 1:16 NLT
Acts 1:16 ESV
Acts 1:16 NASB
Acts 1:16 KJV
Acts 1:16 Bible Apps
Acts 1:16 Parallel
Acts 1:16 Biblia Paralela
Acts 1:16 Chinese Bible
Acts 1:16 French Bible
Acts 1:16 German Bible
Acts 1:16 Commentaries