In the Fulness of Time/Part 145

By: Dr. Thomas O. Figart; ©2011
Much has been speculated concerning the motives for Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but nothing certain has been revealed. Some have said it was because Judas was a radical revolutionary associated with the Zealots, hoping for the overthrow of the Roman oppressors.

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Price of the Betrayal. Matthew 26:14-16

Mt. 26:14-16 “Then, one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they bargained with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that same hour he sought opportunity to betray him.”

As far back as in John 6:70 Jesus had said: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” John’s observance was: “He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (6:71). In fact, John 6:64 affirms that Jesus knew “from the beginning” that Judas should betray Him, yet He bore patiently with Judas during the years of His ministry, but to no avail. The name Judas comes from “Judah” and means “praise.” But which mother and father would ever burden their son with such an appellation as “Judas?”

Much has been speculated concerning the motives for his betrayal of Jesus, but nothing certain has been revealed. Some have said it was because Judas was a radical revolutionary associated with the Zealots, hoping for the overthrow of the Roman oppressors. If this were the case, then the reaction of Judas to the wasteful pouring of the ointment, as he saw it, could have been an expression of his growing disenchantment with Jesus. How could a Messiah who was being prepared for burial ever hope to rise up against Rome?

Judas was unconcerned for the poor and was called a thief in John 12:6, so the rebuke of Jesus against the disciples against Mary stemmed from the attitude of Judas. Perhaps he thought that, since a revolution was not part of the program of Jesus, it was no longer useful to follow Him, so why not get some money from the chief priests and be on his way?

Whatever was entailed in his thinking, Judas did go to the chief priests and they: “bargained with him for (literally, “weighed out”) thirty pieces of silver.” McNeile notes that: “The 30 pieces of silver were shekels=tetra-drachms=stateras . . . equivalent to 120 denarii” (McNeile, Alan. The Gospel According to Matthew: Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980. p. 337). At one denarius per day, this would be equivalent to four months’ wages of a laboring man. Many have alluded to Exodus 21:32 where 30 shekels of silver was the penalty paid when a man’s ox gored a slave to death. This amount is also part of the prophecy of Zechariah 11:12-13, to which Matthew 27:9-10 will refer, in the purchase of the “potter’s field.”

All that remained was for Judas to wait for a favorable time: “to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude” (Luke 22:6). That opportunity would come in the Garden of Gethsemane, at night (Matthew 26:45-46). Even though: “a great multitude with swords and clubs” came with the “chief priests and elders” (26:47), it was a small group in comparison with the crowds assembled in the daytime for the Passover.

Passover and Institution of the Lord’s Supper. Matthew 26:17-30

Preparation for the Passover. Mt. 26:17-19

Mt. 26:17-19 “Now on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the Passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, my time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them, and they made ready the Passover.”

Passover was celebrated as the first of eight days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was held in commemoration of Israel’s flight from Egypt. Jehovah had sent plagues upon Pharaoh and his people in judgment, but they refused to let the Jews leave. The final plague came upon the firstborn of Egypt. The actual word “Passover,” contrary to the thinking of many, does not refer to the death angel passing over the homes and sparing those with the sprinkled blood upon the doors. Rather, “Passover” refers to Jehovah, of Whom it is said: “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two door posts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not permit the destroyer to come into your houses to smite you” (Exodus 12:23).

Passover was so important that the LORD made their religious year begin with the month Nisan in which the Passover was to be observed (Exodus 12:2). A lamb was to be taken on the tenth day, kept until the fourteenth day, and slain in the evening, which traditionally came to be between 3 P.M. and 5 P.M. (Exodus 12:3-6). A Passover meal, called the seder, was eaten that evening, each of the elements of which having some symbolic reference to the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. Seven additional days were set aside during which no leaven was permitted in the Jewish home (Exodus 12:15-20). Both the roasted lamb and the unleavened bread were associated with the “haste” commanded at the time of their departure from Egypt (12:33-34). It was this Passover meal to which the disciples referred in Matthew 26:17. Much speculation has arisen over the so-called discrepancies of the accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke, as compared with that of John. Carson has given an excellent harmonization of these events in his Excursus. (See: Carson, Donald A. Matthew, in Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Vol. 8, pp. 528-532. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1984.)

Because of the many details necessary in preparing the Passover meal, the disciples needed to know where Jesus wanted them to go. Hundreds of thousands of people came to Jerusalem yearly for this celebration, so that suitable rooms were scarce. The Lord, however, had foreseen this need, and told Peter and John to go into the city and look for a man bearing a pitcher of water, follow him into the house, and inquire of the owner about the room. They were instructed to say: “The Master saith unto thee, where is the guest room, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?” (Mark 14:13; Luke 22:10). The word “Master” is didaskalos, “Teacher,” inferring that this man was acquainted with Jesus, and may well have been a true believer. Then, too, as others have commented, Jesus may have withheld the location of their place of meeting from the disciples, lest Judas inform the chief priests and deliberately interrupt the meal to arrest Jesus. Thus, they were able to share the Passover meal in peace.

Prophecy of the Betrayal. Mt. 26: 20-25

Mt. 26:20-25 “Now when the evening was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, who betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.”

From the conversation recorded in John 13:21-30, the seating arrangement as they reclined on their couches must have been that Judas was next to Jesus on His left, John at His right side, and Peter next to John, or possibly directly across the table from Him. The other disciples would not necessarily be aware of all their conversation. At one point (John 13:28-29), they heard, but did not know the intent of what Jesus had said to Judas. They did understand, however, when Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me,” because “every one of them asked, Lord, is it I?” Each question, including the later one of Judas, was formed with the Greek word meti, which necessitates the translation, “It is not I, is it, Lord?” The one difference in the question of Judas was that he asked: “It is not I, is it rabbi?”

Jesus’ answer to the eleven was, “He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.” At this point in the feast they dipped in a piece of unleavened bread in the bowl of charosheth, a mixture of ground up fruits and nuts. It was not that Jesus would only dip with Judas, but, as the account in John 13:24-26 indicates, in answer to John’s quiet question, “Lord, who is it?” He immediately “dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.” Right after this, Satan entered into Judas!

Only Matthew recorded Christ’s reference to Scripture: “The son of man goeth as it is written of him,” no doubt bringing to mind the experience of David with his trusted friend Ahithophel who turned against him and advised Absalom to attack David immediately. When he heard that his advice was thwarted by Hushai, a true friend of David, Ahithophel went home and “put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died” (2 Samuel 17:23). Reflecting upon this, David wrote in Psalm 41:9: “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.” Ahithophel will always live in infamy as the type of the traitor, Judas Iscariot, who also hanged himself after betraying his Friend. This Old Testament prophecy was mentioned by Peter in Acts 1:16: “The scripture must have needs been fulfilled which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spoke before concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.”

When Judas finally asked Jesus the same question, the reply came back: “Thou hast said,” which meant, “Thou thyself didst say it” Little wonder then, that Jesus had remarked before this: “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” Peter added the final word, that, “Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” (Acts 1:25) That place is eternal hell, to which, “in the fulness of time,” all who reject Christ, the Son of God, will send themselves!

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