Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane with His disciples, sans Judas, who has just arrived with a mob from the Sanhedrin to arrest Him. It is the middle of Wednesday night and the start of the Jewish feast of Unleavened Bread that commenced with the Passover meal at sundown just hours prior. But for the Jewish leaders who reckoned the start of the month a day later because of ambiguities in sighting the new moon it is the day of preparation for the Passover that they will eat the following day on Thursday evening. Here in the spiritual olive press of the garden Jesus was crushed by the sins of the world for the oil of His Spirit that would be poured out to save men from their sins. Having submitted His own will to the will of the Father, even unto death on a cross, that Holy Spirit of His sacrifice would now become available to wash and cleanse men from sin by leading them in the way of the cross to likewise die to their own self-will and be raised to newness of life, knowing from Christ’s own example that they need not fear death because God is able to raise them from the dead. Now, having emerged victorious through prayer from the agonizing temptation that had grieved and distressed Him, He has for the third and final time awakened His disciples with the reality of His betrayal that was quickly unfolding. And although Jesus immediately identified Himself by the divine Name as the one whom they were seeking (Joh 18:4-9), still Judas treacherously proceeded to greet Jesus with a salutation of joy and a kiss in order to positively identify Him and prevent His escape.
As Jesus clearly understood what was happening (Joh 18:4), did He curse or disparage Judas for his traitorous deed, as others caught in such a treacherous snare might do? What did He say to Judas as he drew near to identify Him? See Luk 22:48. In what way would that simple question of revelatory truth have inflicted an eternal weight of condemnation to which no angry words of vilification could compare? What does this teach us about the way we too ought to respond to those who hurt us? Is it necessary for us to condemn them, or is it sufficient to simply state the truth and allow their own sins to condemn them? Cf. Joh 12:47-48. Is it possible that in the day of our own judgment instead of words of censure or condemnation the Lord might have similar words for us that simply point out the obvious nature of our sin, and its consequences, which will be its own condemnation? How does this help us to understand that the only way to escape condemnation from our sin is to escape from sin? Think: in spite of having betrayed Jesus, if instead of killing himself Judas had truly repented and spent his life in service to Jesus demonstrating his repentance, as did Peter after denying Him, and Paul after persecuting His Body the Church, might he not also have escaped condemnation as they did, because like them he in humility could acknowledge his sin for what it was and testify of his Lord’s grace and forgiveness unto true salvation?
Even after Judas’ treacherous kiss, which Jesus clearly recognized for what it was, did Jesus curse or condemn him? Rather, how did He refer to Judas in Mat 26:50? Why would that kind address have added to Judas’ condemnation without actually condemning him Himself? Cf. Pro 25:21-22 and think: although Jesus accounted Judas as a friend, is that what Judas was to Jesus? Notice too that the two other uses of this word in the New Testament are also used in similar circumstances of those who might have been friends, but demonstrated by their actions or attitudes that they were not; see Mat 20:13, 22:12. Consider also Jesus’ cryptic words in Mat 26:50. Literally He said, “for what you are present”, which may be understood as a statement as in the NAS by supplying an implied do, or as in the KJV as the rhetorical question, “for what are you present?” In either case, how would these last words Jesus spoke to Judas completely surrendering Himself as a lamb to the slaughter be an eternal haunt to Judas, whereas angry words or trying to resist would have had no such impact? Cf. Jer 26:14, which was a common refrain to their persecutors of those tortured and martyred for their faith throughout history.
Consider Judas’ feigned love and loyalty to Jesus while in fact betraying Him. Are there ways in which we also feign love and loyalty to Jesus while at the same time betraying Him in our hearts by practicing lawlessness? See Mat 7:21-23, Luk 6:46, Joh 14:15,21. Although not in the same physical sense as Judas did, is there still a sense in which such hypocrisy also delivers the true Jesus up to the world to be unjustly accused and maligned as a malefactor and put to death in their hearts? Cf. Tit 1:16, Jude 1:4. Should we suppose that if we are willing to betray Jesus in our hearts through unrepentant sin that we would choose any differently than Judas did if put in the same circumstances? Should we suppose that in the day of judgment it will fare any better for those who pretended to love Jesus while betraying Him in their hearts than it will for Judas?
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- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?