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John xi. 15............
1 John i. 7
COMPLETION OF THE
JOSHUA AND HIS SUCCESSORS;
An INTRODUCTION to the BOOKS OF JOSHUA, JUDGES, RUTH, and SAMUEL I.
With Notes Critical and Illustrative.
BY WILLIAM H. GROSER, B.Sc. (LOND.),
Examiner in the Principles and Art of Teaching to the London Sunday School Union;
"Our Work," "Ready for Work," "Bible Months," "The Teacher's Model and the Model Teacher," &c., &c.
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THE CAREER OF JUDAS.
O the credit of the brotherhood of authors considered as a whole, it must be granted that those who have given themselves to the work of solving historical problems, or of setting old facts in new lights, have more frequently endeavoured to give a favourable view of those concerning whom the majority of men have formed an unfavourable judgment, than to blacken the character of others already held in high esteem. But attempts of the former kind have in some instances been of an extraordinary, not to say ridiculous nature, and amongst these I am inclined to class the ingenious theories (for such they certainly are) brought forward in behalf of Judas by German and English writers of a speculative turn of mind. Singularly enough, it seems to be a favourite notion with some of these philosophers, that the very unbelievableness, so to speak, of a theory shows that it is true. Does the general voice of mankind exclaim against the view adopted by some author? He answers placidly, that because it appears preposterous and unlikely to them, it is more likely to be the true explanation. In the case of Judas, one could almost smile at the coolness with which modern theorists set the evangelists right. They, forsooth, did not know the character of the man, nor the designs he had before him in the dreadful act which has branded him for ever as the traitor Judas and it has been reserved for students living 1,800 years after to clear his memory from doubt or calumny, and show that, however badly his scheme turned out, it was not ill-designed! For the principal supposition put forward in vindication of Judas is this, -that he was concerned at his Master's hesitancy or timidity, and in his anxiety that He should obtain that temporal power, the way to which Judas conceived was open, he strove to hurry on this result, and produced a catastrophe he never dreamed of, his belief being that Christ would free Himself in the hour of peril. And so far has this desire to exonerate Judas gone, that it has been argued he might after all be received into the sacred number of the twelve apostles who surround the throne of Christ's glory in the Apocalyptic vision.
The Bible is silent regarding the early history of Judas, and we know not what he was by profession, nor whence he came, VOL. V., SECOND SERIES.
THE CAREER OF JUDAS.
though it has been conjectured that "Iscariot" meant "the man of Carioth," and pointed to his birthplace, a small town near Jordan. De Quincey argues that, by his position as purse-bearer to the little band, he was brought into communication with a number of petty merchants or small traders, and from his intercourse with these formed his opinion (mistaken, as it appeared) of the readiness of the commonalty in Judea to accept Christ's leadership. There seems little plausibility in this, but it suggests the idea that Judas may have been a man of that class, brought into contact, possibly, with Christ through his having traded with those fishermen who were the earliest of the disciples; and his business qualifications may have led the others, with deference to their Master's will, to propose that he should take the office of treasurer. It is singular, though of no great importance, that our Lord, descended from the tribe of Judah, was betrayed by one bearing that honoured name, for Judas is only another form of that Hebrew word which meant " Jehovah, praise; " also, as we know, the designation of the writer of the Epistle of Jude.
Throughout the events of our Lord's ministry Judas receives no mention; he must have taken his part with the rest of the apostles in the evangelistic labours, the preparation for which is given in Matt. x. 1-15 and the parallel passages. The names of the twelve appear in almost precisely the same order in Mark's Gospel as in Matthew, and since they went forth by twos, if the list is to be taken as giving the mode in which the apostles were paired, the companion of Judas was Simon the Canaanite. The complaint uttered by Judas on the occasion of Mary's expendi ture of ointment in token of her love to Christ, beside giving us incidentally a proof that out of the small funds held by the little company a certain part was devoted to the poor, shows how he had mismanaged and actually abused the trust committed to him (John xii. 1-7). "Bare," according to the best authorities, means in ver. 6 that Judas not merely carried, but bare away— appropriated to his own use-as much as he dared of the money he held. Hence, he was the very man to be tempted by the prospect of a bribe, and his conduct in this trust is conveniently overlooked by those who are so zealous in his defence. It must be granted that if we assume that Matt. xxvi. 6-12 is a record of the same occurrence, as is in all probability the fact, the majority of the disciples seem to have joined in afterwards, though Judas prompted the accusation.
Passing on to the farewell supper taken by Jesus with His apostles, the attitude of the traitor is remarkable, especially when viewed in relation to the peculiar mode of taking meals by
THE SPACE ASSIGNED TO CHRIST'S DEATH IN THE GOSPELS. 223
reclining on couches. That he was placed at the table in proximity to Jesus, probably by a secret arrangement of his own to ward off suspicion, is evident, because it is said by our Lord that the traitor was eating from the same dish. Amongst the Orientals it is usual to place a dish of the soup or stew for every three or four persons. But we also find that the couches used at the tables were frequently so contrived as to hold three persons each. That the "beloved disciple" and Jesus were reclining on the same couch is proved by the attitude of this apostle, which enabled him to ask a question unobserved by the rest (John xiii. 23-26). If they, therefore, occupied a couch intended for three, the third may have been Judas, on the other side of our Lord, and close at hand to receive the sop which might well have awakened compunction, or a change of purpose, had not the man been thoroughly hardened by the lust of gain. The institution of the Lord's Supper did not take place, as is particularly notable, until Judas had withdrawn to fulfil his design, as he was probably not certain until the evening hour what would be his Master's destination that night.
Comments have been made upon the paltry nature of the reward received by Judas. He may have hoped that afterwards he might obtain some larger recompence or important post under the temple officials for the service he had performed. One would fain believe that in his heart he did not wish to bring about the death of Christ, and thought the supernatural power that he had often seen put forth would in the crisis of danger deliver Jesus from His foes. The bold confession of Judas that he had betrayed the innocent One (Matt. xxvii. 4) contrasts with the shrinking denial of Peter in the hours of the previous night, but in the delirium of his remorse the false apostle had thrown off all fear of man. Yet the sneering response of the priests was the last addition to a burden he could no longer bear.
J. R. S. C.
THE SPACE ASSIGNED TO CHRIST'S DEATH IN THE GOSPELS AN EVIDENCE OF ITS IMPORTANCE.
THE evangelists do not all record Christ's nativity, they do nɔt all record His transfiguration, they do not all record His ascension, but not not one of them has failed to record His death, and to record it too with the utmost fulness and minuteness. In the longest of the Gospels His death with the attendant circum
224 THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF OUR LORD'S RESURRECTION.
stances occupies one-tenth of the whole book, in the shortest it occupies almost one-sixth; and in all the four it has a space and prominence assigned to it incomparably greater than any event in His history. Is not this strange, considering that the writers were Jews, to whom the very idea of a suffering, dying, crucified Messiah must have been revolting? Can you account for their narrating it with such length and with such minuteness? they any precedent for such a course P Do the Scriptures of either the Old or New Testament dwell at any length on the deaths of those whose histories they record? They do not. The important place assigned in modern biographies to deaths and death-bed scenes has no sanction from Scripture example. Not one of even the apostles has his death recorded except James, and his occupies but one short verse: The book which relates to the apostles is significantly called, "The Acts of the Apostles;" it registers their death, but does not sing their requiem. No death scenes, no dying agonies, no last conversations with friends, no parting farewells to kindred; none but His find a place in the sacred page.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF OUR LORD'S RESURRECTION.
APOSTOLIC writers, Paul especially (1 Cor. xv. 14), evidently regard the resurrection of our Lord as of equal importance with His death; and rightly so. He said once and again, "I shall rise." If He never rose, what of His other words? We may illustrate the point by employing His own argument in dealing with the palsied man. * "God so loved the world," &c. Glorious news this, if it be true. Is it true? It is beyond my observation. "That ye may know that I the Son of man have power to give this everlasting life, you shall crucify Me, and on the third day I will rise again." He did it. By that which is visible to the eye of sense we may have faith in a testimony of which sense can take no cognizance. A man could not raise himself; God would not raise an impostor; the resurrection is a seal to the truth of His mission-a mission of mercy to ruined man.
W. H. W.