Jewish rulers had been anxious to get Jesus into their power, but for
fear of raising a tumult among the people they had not dared to take Him
openly. So they had sought some one who would secretly betray Him, and
had found in Judas, one of the twelve disciples, the man who would do
this base act.
Judas had naturally a strong love for
money, but he had not always been wicked and corrupt enough to do such a
deed as this. He had fostered the evil spirit of avarice until it had
become the ruling motive of his life, and he could now sell his Lord for
thirty pieces of silver (about $17.00), the price of a slave. (Exodus
21:28-32.) He could now betray the Saviour with a kiss in Gethsemane.
But he followed every step of the Son of
God, as He went from the garden to the trial before the Jewish rulers.
He had no thought that the Saviour would allow the Jews to kill Him, as
they had threatened to do.
At every moment he expected to see Him
released and protected by divine power, as had been done in the past.
But as the hours went by, and Jesus quietly submitted to all the
indignities that were heaped upon Him, a terrible fear came to the
traitor, that he had indeed betrayed his Master to His death.
As the trial drew to a close, Judas could
endure the torture of his guilty conscience no longer. All at once there
rang through the hall a hoarse voice, which sent a thrill of terror to
the hearts of all present:
"He is innocent. Spare Him, O Caiaphas.
He has done nothing worthy of death!"
The tall form of Judas was seen pressing
through the startled crowd. His face was pale and haggard, and large
drops of sweat stood on his forehead. Rushing to the throne of judgment,
he threw down before the high priest the pieces of silver that had been
the price of his Lord's betrayal.
He eagerly grasped the robe of Caiaphas,
and begged him to release Jesus, declaring that He had done no wrong.
Caiaphas angrily shook him off, and said with scorn:
"What is that to us? See thou to that."
Judas then threw himself at the Saviour's
feet. He confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, and begged Him to
deliver Himself from His enemies.
The Saviour knew that Judas did not
really repent for what he had done. The false disciple feared that
punishment would come upon him for his terrible deed; but he felt no
real sorrow because he had betrayed the spotless Son of God.
Yet Christ spoke to him no word of
condemnation. He looked with pity upon Judas, and said:
"For this hour came I into the world."
A murmur of surprise ran through the
assembly. With amazement they beheld the forbearance of Christ toward
Judas saw that his entreaties were in
vain, and he rushed from the hall, crying:
"It is too late! It is too late!"
He felt that He could not live to see
Jesus crucified, and in despair went out and hanged himself.
Later that same day, on the road from
Pilate's judgment hall to Calvary, the wicked throng were leading the
Saviour to the place of crucifixion. Suddenly there came an interruption
to their shouts and jeers. As they passed a retired spot, they saw at
the foot of a lifeless tree the dead body of Judas.
It was a revolting sight. His weight had
broken the cord by which he had hanged himself to the tree. In falling,
his body had been horribly mangled, and the dogs were now devouring it.
His remains were immediately buried out
of sight; but there was less mockery, and many a pale face revealed the
fearful thoughts within. Retribution seemed already to be visiting those
who were guilty of the blood of Jesus.