When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:…
Men join hand in hand for a wicked object, out of which they hope for common profit. For a while the alliance lasts, and evil seems to have power of coherence as well as good. But conflicting interests arise, and then the nature of the union is apparent. Sin began by severing the bond between man and his Maker, and what other bond can henceforth have any permanence? If left to do its will, it would disintegrate God's universe into atoms of selfishness. Observe here —
I. JUDAS, AND THE STATE OF MIND TO WHICH HE IS BROUGHT. He begins in the guilt of selfishness, and ends in its utter solitude.
1. Separation from human companionship.
(a) From Christ and the apostles. After his act of treachery was committed, he felt as if a bridge were broken behind him. He had no more part nor lot in the circle of which he had been a member.
(b) From his employers and accomplices. Here again, he is alone. He has served their purpose, and is thrown away like a broken tool.
2. Self-desertion. He can no longer keep company with his own thoughts. Backward, forward, upward, his sin meets him wherever he turns, and his feeling is that which the poet has given to the apostate angel, "Me miserable, which way shall I fly!"
3. Deserted by the tempter and the bribe. He has no pleasure in the thing he coveted. "the silver, which was so dear, eats his flesh as it were fire, and he casts it from him like a viper that has. stung the hand. So does the devil ever cheat the sinner of the substance for a shadow, and then robs him of that, or changes it into a frightful spectre from which he would escape if he could.
4. Separation between the soul and God. That which is reviving light to others is to him consuming fire, and he seeks flight from God as a relief and escape, Remorse only hardens. The heart of stone may be crushed and remain stone in its every fragment; it can only be melted when the love of God is suffered to shine on it. But when it refuses to admit that love, what can be done? For a time this awful isolation may not seem so terrible as it is. Other things may be put in the place of God — friendships, occupations, and pleasure. But when these pass, as pass they must, and perish like flowers on the edge of a gulf, the awful depth of the chasm will be seen. When fold after fold which now closes the eye of the soul is torn off, and it is Compelled to look on eternal realities, how will it stand the gaze?
II. THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THEIR CONDUCT.
1. Their disregard for their instrument when their purpose is gained. How differently would Judas have been treated, had he gone to Christ! If any friendship is to be formed that will stand us in stead in the hour of trial, it need not be sought among bad men consorting for unprincipled ends. The first stress will lay bare the hollow of such friendships, and show what bitter enemies confront one another when wicked men are separated by selfish purposes.
2. Their attempt to shake off the responsibility of the common act. One of the punishments in concerted sin is mutual recrimination, and the weakest are denied not only pity but ordinary justice.
3. Their taunt. A sneer at his being too late in coming to the knowledge of Christ's innocence. This view of the matter should have suggested itself earlier. Infinitely better to meet the ridicule of sinners for not joining them, and to keep a good conscience, than to end by being subjected to their taunts with the bitter knowledge that they are deserved!
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: