The Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed by one of His own disciples. Judas Iscariot sold the Lord into the hands of His enemies for thirty pieces of silver, which proves that Jeremiah 17:9 is absolutely true, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
“And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him” (Mark 14:10-11).
How many parents name their children Judas? The name has become synonymous with betrayal. Here was a man, who to all outward appearance, looked and behaved like a true disciple of Christ. He had the wonderful privilege of being chosen by Jesus to follow Him. He was an eyewitness of all the miracles that Jesus performed. He was sent out to preach about the Kingdom of God and to work miracles in Christ’s name. “For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry” (Acts 1:17). None of the other disciples suspected that Judas was a thief and a traitor. Here is a man who has a worse reputation than anyone in history. The Lord even said that Judas was a devil, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve” (John 6:70-71). Therefore there was nothing good in the man. He was the friend of Satan rather than a friend of God.
The god of Judas’ life was not the true God, instead he loved money. “The love of money” has always been “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and has ruined the lives of billions. It enslaved Balaam’s heart and brought the judgement of God on Gehazi (Numbers 22 & 2 Kings 5.) Money ruled Judas’ heart and he thought nothing about stealing from the Lord, “He was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein” (John 12:6). Matthew’s account of this passage reveals that Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and was eager to betray Him as soon as possible, “And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:15-16). Luke 22:3 tells us that Satan possessed Judas, which infers that he was now of a reprobate mind (see Romans 1:28).
“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? And he sendeth forth two of his disciples, and saith unto them, Go ye into the city, and there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water: follow him. And wheresoever he shall go in, say ye to the goodman of the house, The Master saith, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he will show you a large upper room furnished and prepared: there make ready for us. And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover” (Mark 14:12-16).
The Lord’s death on the cross at the time of the Passover was not a matter of human planning or coincidence, but was part of God’s eternal purpose. Christ was crucified on the very day that the Passover lamb was slain. The celebration was designed to bring the Jew to the One whose supreme sacrifice paid the price for man’s sin.
Did the Passover remind the Jews about the marvellous deliverance of their forefathers out of slavery in Egypt, when God slew the firstborn? It did, but they could not see that a far great deliverance and redemption, from bondage to sin, was to be brought in by their Messiah.
Did the Passover remind the Jews that by the death of an innocent lamb their forefathers were exempted from the death of the firstborn? It did, but they failed to see that their Messiah, as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) is a greater truth.
Did the Passover remind the Jews that by the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts their forefathers were preserved from the sword of the destroyer? It did, but they refused to acknowledge that Christ’s blood cleanses the believer from sin, condemnation and fear of wrath. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:14-15).
Did the Passover remind the Jews that their forefather actually ate of the slain lamb in obedience to God’s command? It did, but they would not feed upon Christ by faith and thus receive the atonement for sin. “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
In our next study we will look at the institution of the Lord’s Supper.