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They did not for a moment doubt His truth, but a fearful doubt of each other, yea of their own selves, came upon them.
Verse 22. “ Then the disciples looked one upon another, doubting of whom he spake.”
MARK xiv. 19. “ And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I ? and another said, Is it I ?”
LUKE xxii. 23. “And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.”
MATTHEW xxvi. 23, 24. “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 the Son of man is betrayed ? it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”
The conscience of Judas seems to have become hardened in a marvellous manner. These words of his Lord might well have warned him even now to stop. He had indeed promised to betray Him, and had agreed with the Rulers of the Jews to receive the price of a slave as the value of Him whom he still called Master and Lord; but he might have drawn back. Did he not hear that he was bringing upon himself such woe that it would have been good for him if he had never been born ?
He heard, but he heeded not.
The other Apostles had each put the question, 'Lord ! is it I?' and he would put it too. Either he feared that, if he alone did not, the others might suspect him; or he had a strange curiosity to see if Jesus knew the secret of his heart. St. Matthew writes
Verse 25. “ Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I ? Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said."
How much of meaning there is in these few words! The rest of the Apostles do not seem to have heard them.
JOHN xiii. 23—26. “Now there was leaning on Jesus' breast one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it; and when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon."
It is supposed that Jesus had placed himself at the table between his beloved Apostle John and Judas the traitor. The couches on which men lay rather than sat at table have been already described.* They were usually made large enough for three persons; and as John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, leant with his head on His bosom, and Judas Iscariot was so near that He gave to him the sop when He had dipped it, it seems likely that the beloved Apostle and the Traitor were on each side of their Lord. The whole history of Judas is a fearful warning that no outward advantages in religion can change the heart ; that men may seem to live near to Christ, and yet have no part in Him whatever. O Judas! traitor to thy Lord, arise ! begone! The inner life of thy soul is in rebellion, and each step is into deeper sin. The hard Master whom thou hast chosen claims thee for his own.
Verses 27-30. “ And after the sop (which Jesus gave him ) Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.
He * Vol. ii. p. 117.
then, having received the sop, went immediately out; and it was night."
Prayer. O my Saviour ! let each word of thine sink deep into my heart. Let thy example be the guide I strive to follow. Thou hast said “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them, and from my inmost soul I acknowledge that this is truth, for I am happy or unhappy just as I strive to follow thee, or turn aside from following thee. Blessed Lord, be ever near me, dwell within my heart, let my Spirit be in communion with thine, then shall I fear no evil, Satan shall not be suffered to enter into me. Keep me thus, my Saviour, for I am not able to keep myself.
Hear me my God, for Jesus' sake, that I may be thine, body and soul, for ever. Amen.
NOTE-Opinions are much divided as to whether Judas the Traitor was or was not present, when our Lord at the end of the Passover Feast, appointed the Holy Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Those who think he was present take the statement of St. Luke as an exact account not only of the facts, but of the manner in which these facts followed each other. Those who think he was not present follow rather the accounts given in the three other Gospels. They place the declaration of our Lord that one of his disciples should betray him, and the question of “Lord ! is it I?” immediately after his washing their feet, and then, following the account of St. John, they suppose Judas to withdraw immediately upon his having received the sop, which Jesus had in a low voice told John would point out to him which of the twelve it was who would betray him. St. John thus writes—“He then having received the sop, went immediately out.” Now the dipping and giving the sop was no part of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, but it was one of the established usages of the Passover Feast, and seems to mark that it was not then finished. St. Matthew and St. Mark do not say when the Traitor went out, but they make the declaration of his treason, and the question “ Lord is it I?" and the sign given to mark who it was, to take place before Jesus took the Bread and Wine and appointed them to be received in perpetual remembrance and signiñcation of his body broken, and his blood shed for the deliverance of his people. There is also another reason which seems to point out that Judas withdrew at that particular time. It is this; during the Passover the Lord Jesus seems to have
been deeply affected with sorrow and trouble of mind. The thought of the desperate guilt of Judas seems to have been as a weight upon his mind, and only to have been removed when he withdrew. Then broke forth the heavenly stream of words which spake of glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good-will to man, the burthen of the song which Angels sung at his birth, and which was to be fully accomplished in his death.
This question of the presence or absence of Judas, like all those questions which Scripture has not clearly decided, is left open to each of us, and it concerns no vital matter of faith, for if Judas was absent it was by his own act, therefore it does not compel us to what is called " a close communion,” that is, to the hindering the approach to the table of the Lord of all who have not given proof of their being true disciples of Christ. What living man can tell ? The Apostles knew not that Judas was a traitor. To Christ only his heart was open. The outward life is all that men can judge of, the secrets of the heart are with God. If Judas was there, it was as the tares among the wheat; the hour was at hand which should divide them for ever. If he was not there, it was because it was painful for him to be longer than he could help in the presence of his Lord, an the company of His true disciples. What fellowship hath Christ with Belial !
We are all too apt to be “wise above what is written," and, having explained some passages of Scripture to our own satisfaction, to build upon our explanation, reasons, and to draw from it lessons that we mix up with our whole scheme of Christianity. Thus do we cause one man's Bible to speak quite a different language from the Bible of another man; and thus does the word of man cloud over the purity of the word of God.
This is a dangerous practice, and one I most earnestly desire to avoid in choosing among the opposite opinions of those learned men who have written upon the question-whether Judas was, or was not, present at the last Sacrament.
In gathering from the four Gospels the history of our Lord's last evening before His death, I have been obliged to follow one line or other, and have chosen that which seems to me most in accordance with the mind of Christ; but those who think otherwise have only to read the verses which tell of our blessed Lord's giving the sacred bread and wine before the passage which begins “ Now is the Son of Man glorified,” and the harmony of the solemn story will not be disturbed.
It was night, and the Traitor was gone, a weight seems to
have passed away with Him from the minds of all present. The other Apostles did not know his treason, but Jesus knew it, and “He was troubled in spirit” and His words had filled them with dismay.
Judas was gone, and the Saviour was alone with his true disciples. They were still full of weakness; much of sin still strove within them, and made them very open to temptation, but their affections were with their Lord. Their desires were to follow Him through weal and woe, and it is this which makes the difference between the children of God, and the children of this world. Those who love their Lord will cling the closer to Him in every time of trial. Is it a time of doubt and fear? Their affections are His, they would rather doubt themselves than Him. Is evil known to be among them? In anxi. ous fear of the sin that is still their grief and shame, they say “Lord ! is it I ?” and press the closer to His side. Not so the conduct of those whose hearts are gone after the things of this world. Why should they cling to Christ, since the good they seek is not from Him? In time of doubt and difficulty they are offended, they shrink from closer communion with Him, and when affliction or reproach for His sake is at hand, they rise and leave Him. Oh ! it is a grievous thing for them, when thus they go, but it is well for the Church to be purified from the presence of those who thus betray the cause of Christ. Let us ponder these things well, and in humble fear of the power of sin, say, "Lord ! is it I?” O Christ our Redeemer, keep us close to Thee, that we may remain among thine own. Be thou with us now, as with sacred awe and adoring love we follow Thee through the hours of this the last evening of thy mortal life, which we well may call the Holy of Holies.*
When Judas Iscariot, the representative of the kingdom of darkness, withdrew, and Jesus was alone with his disciples, the children of light, then the love that filled his heart, like a long