By R. . SLEDD,
" Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of
the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and
captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad and cove-
nanted to give him money. And he promised and sought opportunity to betray
him unto them in the absence of the multitude." — Luke xxii, 3-6.
About twenty-five miles South of Jerusalem are
the ruins of an ancient city. This has been identified
by modern explorers as the city of Kerioth, and is
believed to have been the birthplace of Judas. He
is called Iscariot, that is the man of Kerioth. He is
also called " the son of Simon; " the ew Version
reads, " the son of Simon Iscariot," thus indicating
that Kerioth was, and probably had been for genera-
tions, the home of his fathers.
Of the history of his early life we know nothing.
His home was, no doubt, an humble one. He grew
up in obscurity, and gave neither by conspicuous
virtues nor by notorious vices any indication of either
the dignity or the infamy that awaited him.
His name first appears in Sacred Story in the
account of the calling and the commissioning of the
twelve apostles. But he had been with Christ before
this time. He had heard him with interest and ap-
proval, and had united with his followers as a disciple.
354- True Heroism and Other Sermons.
It was from discipleship that he was advanced to
apostleship. He had been a learner. ow he is sent
forth to be a teacher of others.
The purpose of Christ in choosing the twelve was
that they might be constantly with him as eye wit-
nesses of his miracles, and as hearers of his public
discourses and his private expositions of the mys-
teries of the kingdom of God, and thus be prepared
to bear testimony to his character and works and to
preach his truth.
Our Lord felt deeply the solemnity and im-
portance of this movement. He spent the whole
night preceding the choice of the twelve in prayer.
The men chosen were to preach his doctrine while he
lived and to be his witnesses and representatives
after his death. On them would depend, in large
measure, the consistency, order, stability and success
of the w r ork which he was inaugurating. They were
to develop and direct the spiritual forces of the infant
church, and instruct and equip her for her world-
After a night spent in prayer and with such a-
purpose in the choice of the twelve, he named Judas
for this high office and dignity. He gave him pre-
cisely the same commission that he gave to Peter and
the rest: " As ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of
heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers,
raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received,
freely give." He gave him the same promises of
True Heroism and Other Sermons. 355
divine protection, blessing and reward. He identi-
fied himself personally with Judas, saying : " He that
receiveth you receiveth me " — " he that heareth you
Thus called, commissioned and endowed, Judas
took his place in the college of apostles, and so far
as we know, did his work as faithfully and as accept-
ably to Christ as any of his brethren. Like them,
he was " unlearned and ignorant," and deeply in-
fected with Jewish prejudices, and incapable of rising
up to the sublime conception of a purely spiritual
kingdom. They were all " fools and slow of heart
to believe," and often gave proof of the narrowness
and grossness of their views and the worldliness of
their spirit. But there is nothing to show that Judas
was one whit worse in these respects than the rest.
A year, perhaps more, has passed since their call,
when Jesus in conversation with them said : " Have
I not chosen you twelve? And one of you is a devil."
It is strange that this saying did not, at the time,
arrest attention and awaken inquiry. Sixty years
afterwards, John recalling these words, says, " He
spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon." If John
had expressed an opinion at the time of the utterance
of the words, he would perhaps have said, " The
master speaketh of Peter; for not long ago he said
to him, ' get thee behind me Satan, thou art an
offence to me.' " Again, when a few days before the
death of Christ, Mary poured upon him the precious
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ointment, Matthew says: " When the disciples saw it
they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is
this waste? For this ointment might have been sold
for much, and given to the poor." Mark says.
" There were some that had indignation, and mur-
mured against her." John singles out Judas as the
only objector, and gives as the reason of his objection
that " he was thief, and had the bag, and bare what
was therein." But all such interpretations of his acts
and reflections on his character dated many years
after his death. There seems to have been nothing
in his spirit or conduct up to the last supper that
shook their confidence in him. When the Lord
said, " One of you shall betray me," each one appears
to have suspected himself as much as any one else.
Up to this time Judas was their trusted treasurer.
They had no suspicion of fraud, or embezzlement of
the common fund, and no dream of a traitorous pur-
pose on his part towards their Lord. Their relations
with him were those of cordial friendship and
The natural conclusion from these facts is that he
was either the most consummate of hypocrites, and
during three years of intimate association with his
brother disciples had so completely disguised his
hypocrisy as to awake no suspicion of insincerity,
or else, at least at the outset of his public life, he
was a sincere, upright man. Jesus knew all men.
He understood Judas thoroughly. That he would
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deliberately put one whom he knew to be a bad man
into the holy office we are not prepared to believe.
He could not have put him there simply " that he
might become the fatal instrument for the accom-
plishment of a mysterious decree." This would have
been a subversion of moral order, and would have
made the subsequent crime of Judas a necessity.
Christ would have thus led him into temptation by
putting him in the way and giving him the oppor-
tunity to commit a crime of which otherwise he
would never have been guilty. On such a supposition
Jesus himself would have become accessory to the
sin of Judas.
We believe that when he was called to the apostle-
ship he was a good man at least in the sense in which
the others were good men. As in them so in him
there was a commixture of good and evil tenden-
cies, the good at the time predominating and giving
promise of complete victory over the evil. On him-
self under the influence of Jesus depended the vic-
tory. An evil force lurks in every unsanctified soul.
It is for the human will to resist and subdue this force,
or to turn it loose. Eleven of the disciples resisted
it and were safe; one yielded to it and fell. He did
not yield because it had been decreed that he should
do so; if so, then he would have been guiltless and
the responsibility for his act would have been trans-
ferred to God. Certain prophecies were fulfilled or
illustrated by his treachery, but they did not, could
358 True Heroism and Other Sermons.
not cause it. Of his own free will he betrayed his
Master. It is true Satan entered into him and
quickened and intensified the forces of evil within
him. But he was free, and might have resisted suc-
cessfully all the power of the prince of darkness, and
might have been as steadfast and as true to his Lord
as John or James.
In his intercessory prayer, Jesus said, " Those that
thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost,
but the son of perdition." The Father gave Judas
to the Son just as he gave him Peter, James, and
John. But he was lost, Why? St. Augustine, quoted
by Clarke, answers : " Because he would not be
saved; " and he further adds, " After the commission
of his crime he might have returned to God and have
found mercy." Calmet, quoted by the same author,
says, " Judas only became the son of perdition be-
cause of his wilful malice, his abuse of the grace and
instructions of Christ, and was condemned through
his own avarice, perfidy, insensibility, and despair."
These illustrious men, staunch advocates, the former
especially so, of the doctrine of divine foreordination,
thus strenuously assert the moral freedom of Judas
in betraying his Master. His was the crime, his the
guilt and punishment.
It is useless for us to attempt to reconcile the free
agency of Judas and Christ's foreknowledge of his
treachery. It is one of the mysteries of God's moral
government involving the whole problem of his re-
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lation to the origin of sin and of his foreknowledge
to human freedom. o system of philosophy can
solve it. Revelation does not solve it. Possibly in
the clearer light and with the higher expansion of
our powers in the world to come we may gain some
insight into the mystery. That man is a moral agent,
reason, consciousness, revelation, all attest. And this
is the truth of supremest concern to us. Christ, as
divine, knew that Judas would betray him. But
Judas did not betray him because of his foreknowledge
but of his own deliberate choice. He was drawn
away of his own lust, and enticed; cherishing instead
of resisting the enticement, his lust conceived and
brought forth sin, and sin, when it was finished,
brought forth death.
When therefore, we speak of the fall of Judas, we
mean more than his fall from his high office as an
apostle. He fell from his place as one given to Christ
by the Father — from his place as one dearer to Christ
than his mother or brethren — from his love of Christ
and his brother disciples — from all of the goodness
and grace that he had acquired during the years of
his association with Christ.
There were two causes contributing to his down-
I. The disappointment of his worldly expectations.
In common with the rest he thought the kingdom of
Messiah would be secular. This was the prevailing
idea of the best men of Judaism. It was the idea of
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all the apostles until after the resurrection. They
discussed the matter among themselves, and even
John, the most spiritual man among them, had an
unseemly discussion with James as to which should
have the highest office in the coming kingdom.
With a sincere attachment to the person of his
Master, Judas united a worldly ambition. But as
time passed on, he saw.no signs of the realization of
his hopes. On the contrary he saw his Master reso-
lutely setting his face against worldly preferment.
He took no advantage of the currents of popular
favor; he never used his extraordinary powers to
advance his kingly claims; but more and more plainly
declared the pure spirituality of his kingdom, and
the certainty and necessity of his death in order to
its establishment. Holding his views of Messiah and
his kingdom honestly and religiously, it is not diffi-
cult to see that doctrines so completely at variance
with them would weaken his faith in Jesus. Indeed
the faith of all of them seemed to suffer a sad eclipse
when Jesus died. And cherishing as he believed,
well-grounded hopes of advancement in the kingdom
of Messiah, when he saw that these hopes were
doomed to complete disappointment, he was gradu-
ally weaned and alienated from Christ as from one
who had failed to meet his expectations; and under
the influence of bitter disappointment, and in the
spirit of resentment he delivered him to his enemies.
Some expositors hold that he was- actuated by
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impatience rather than resentment. He was anxious
that Christ should at once take to himself his great
power and reign. His aim was to hasten the issue,
believing that Christ by his power would deliver
himself and demonstrate to the Sanhedrim and to the
civil powers the truth of his royal claims. Thus his
worldly ambitions would be the more quickly real-
2. Another motive strangely emphasized by some
was his love of money. He was the treasurer of the
disciples. Handling the money woke up the dormant
love of it. Little by little he abstracted from the
common purse for private use. As he did so without
detection, or suspicion, the unholy passion strength-
ened and his pilfering correspondingly increased.
At last his avarice found occasion for emphatic ex-
pression. It was on the festive night in Bethany when
Mary with her precious spikenard anointed her Lord
for his burial. " Why this waste? " said he," this
ointment might have been sold for three hundred
pence, and given to the poor." That very night he
went to the chief priests and entered into negotiations
with them. By the sale of his Master his avarice
would reap what it had lost by the waste of the oint-
ment. A few days later, Satan having entered into
and taken complete possession of him, he consum-
mated the bargain, and for thirty pieces of silver
delivered Jesus into the hands of his enemies.
And now comes the end. Retribution had been
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stealthily creeping along after him. as it does after
ever}- man. as he advanced in sin. He heard not
the tread of its furred feet, and saw not its glare of
fire. But no sooner does he reach the final act in
the tragedy than he feels its breath of flame in every
chamber of his being and its talons tearing his " soul
asunder with most tormenting fear." Christ is led
away to the judgment hall; Judas is left out in the
darkness wrestling with a remorse blacker than the
night and more bitter than death. When the morn-
ing came, and he learned that Jesus was condemned.
" he brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the
chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned, in
that I have betrayed the innocent blood." Why
did they not pity the poor wretch? The ghastliness
of his face, the wildness of his eye, the despair in his
voice, must have revealed to them the terrific throes
that had rent his soul during the night. But piti-
lessly, mockingly, they replied : " What is that to
us? See thou to that." Throwing down the money
in the temple, he went out and hanged himself.
And then he " went to his own place." Jesus had
said : " The son of man goeth as it is written of him;
but woe to the man by whom the son of man is
^betrayed ! it had been good for that man if he had not
"been born." His own place is one of suffering com-
mensurate with his crime. That suffering shall be
eternal. Better had he never been. Better could
he now cease to be.
True Heroism and Other Sermons. 363
Our conclusions are: 1. When Judas was called
to the apostolate he was a sincere, upright man — not
regenerate, but a good man in the same sense in
which the rest, at the time of their calling, were good
men. He had good financial and administrative abili-
ties and was therefore entrusted with the manage-
ment of the pecuniary interests of his Master's house-
hold. He had good moral qualities, tendencies and
aspirations, which under the influence and instruction
of Jesus might have developed, had he so willed, into
permanent supremacy over all the evil proclivities of
2. He was called to do the work of an apostle,
and not that of a traitor. He was commissioned
to this work, and like the rest was supernaturally
endowed for it. He did this work faithfully up to
the closing hours of his Master's life, and for aught
that appears to the contrary had the confidence of
his brother disciples to the last. The stigma put
upon his name wherever mentioned by the expres-
sion — " which also betrayed him " — was put there
long after his death. o such stain, nor any suspicion
of it, rested upon him while he lived.
3. The purpose to betray Christ originated in his
worldly ambition and his covetousness. This pur-
pose was of gradual formation and development, and
did not assume definite fixedness until after Jesus
came to Jerusalem for the last time. John says:
" And supper being ended, the devil having now
3 6 4
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put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray him; "
again, " after the sop Satan entered into him."
Matthew, Mark, and Luke make a similar record.
It was not therefore a deliberate purpose of long-
standing. There had been, no doubt, a previous
treacherous bent or disposition of mind, and secret
thoughts of betrayal. But the decisive resolution
was not taken until these last hours. He now re-
signed his will to the will of the devil, and consents
and determines to deliver up his Lord to his enemies.
Henceforth " he sought opportunity to betray him."
4. The act of betrayal was accompanied with no
defamation of the character of Christ. He was
unquestionably a bad man; but had he been alto-
gether bad, he might have added falsehood to treason,
and justified his act by false accusation. Having
been intimately associated with Christ so long, his
testimony that he was a blasphemer, an impostor,
a seditious person, or that he was guilt}' of evil of
any kind, would have had, very naturally, great
weight with the authorities. But he utters not a
word of detraction, on the contrary, his last words
are in vindication of the innocence of the Master
and condemnation of himself.
5. Xo sooner is the act done than he is filled with
remorse. He repents and confesses his sin to the
high priests. Had his confession been made to Jesus
and his forgiveness sought, who will say that pardon
would have been denied him and the door of hope for-
True Heroism and Other Sermons. 365
ever closed against him. The same look of amazing
pity that broke Peter's heart, would no doubt have
been turned with even deep pity on Judas. But his,
alas, was a sorrow of the world which worketh death.
6. There have been Judases in every age — men
who have eaten of Christ's bread, even at the sacra-
mental table, and yet have lifted up the heel against
him. There is in us an evil heart of unbelief. Unless
its natural workings be counteracted by grace divine
it will make us all traitors to our Lord. By faith we
stand. If we doubt, we stumble; if we disbelieve, we
fall. Lord, increase our faith.
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