Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 120, 1897



October 27, 1897

Portions of this manuscript are published in DA 716-722.

On the second night before the Passover, Judas had renewed his contract with the priests to deliver Jesus into their hands. Then it was arranged that the Saviour should be taken in one of His resorts for prayer and meditation. Since the feast at the house of Simon, Judas had had opportunity to reflect upon the deed which he had covenanted to perform, but his purpose was unchanged. For thirty pieces of silver—the price of a slave—he sold the Lord of glory to ignominy and death. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 1

Judas had naturally a strong love for money; but he had not always been wicked and corrupt enough to do such a deed as this. He had fostered the evil spirit of avarice until it had become the ruling motive of his life. The love of mammon overbalanced his love for Christ. Through becoming the slave of one vice, he gave himself to Satan, to be driven to any lengths in sin. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 2

Judas had joined the disciples when multitudes were following Christ. The Saviour’s teachings moved their hearts as they hung entranced upon [His] words, spoken in the synagogue, by the seaside, upon the mount. Judas watched every movement. He saw the sick, the lame, the blind, flock to Jesus from the towns and cities. He saw the dying laid at His feet. He witnessed the Saviour’s mighty works in healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead. He felt in his own person the evidence of Christ’s divine power. But Judas did not come to the point of surrendering himself fully to Christ. He did not give up his worldly ambition or his love of money. While he accepted the position of a minister of Christ, he did not bring himself under the divine molding. He felt that he could retain his individual judgment and opinion, and he cultivated a disposition to condemn and accuse others. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 3

In his office of trust, as treasurer for the disciples, Judas had opportunity to see his own weakness of character, and to correct it. But in the very presence of Christ, while listening daily to His lessons and witnessing His unselfish life, Judas indulged his covetous spirit. The small sums that came into his hands, to be spent for the poor and in supplying the needs of Christ and His disciples, were a continual temptation to Judas. Often when he did a little service for Christ, or devoted time to religious services, he paid himself out of this meager fund. These pretexts served to excuse his actions in his own eyes; but in God’s sight he was a thief. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 4

The oft-repeated statement of Christ, that His kingdom was not of this world, created thoughts of disaffection in the mind of Judas. He had marked out a line upon which he expected Christ to work. He had planned that John the Baptist should be delivered from prison. But lo, John was left to be beheaded, and Jesus withdrew Himself and His disciples into a country place, instead of avenging the death of John. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 5

Judas wanted more aggressive warfare. He thought that if Jesus would not hold the disciples back from carrying out their schemes, the work would be more successful. He marked the increasing enmity of the Jewish leaders, and saw their challenge unheeded when they demanded from Christ a sign from heaven. His heart was opened to unbelief, and the enemy supplied thoughts of questioning and rebellion. Why did Christ dwell so much upon that which was discouraging? Why did He portray His own trials and persecutions, and point to the trial and persecution of His disciples? The prospect of having a high place in the new kingdom had led Judas to espouse the cause of Christ. Were his hopes to be disappointed? Judas had not decided that Jesus was not the Son of God; he had not made up his mind that Jesus performed miracles through the agency of Satan; but he was questioning, and seeking to find some explanation of His mighty works. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 6

Christ’s discourse in the synagogue concerning the bread of life was the turning point in the history of Judas. He heard the words, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in you.” [John 6:53, 54.] He saw that Christ was offering spiritual rather than worldly good. His own expectations of a worldly kingdom would not be realized. At this time he made shipwreck of faith. After this he permitted doubt, envy, and hatred to be his guests. His jealousy was aroused when he was not included with the three chosen to witness the transfiguration of Christ upon the mount. When the disciples disputed by the way as to whom should be greatest, his voice was often heard. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 7

In all that Christ said to the disciples there was something with which, in heart, Judas disagreed. Under his influence the leaven of this disaffection was fast developing. Yet he made no open opposition, nor seemed to question the importance of the Saviour’s lessons. He made no outward murmur until the time of the feast in Simon’s house. When Mary anointed the Saviour’s feet with the precious ointment, Judas manifested his covetous disposition. At the reproof from Jesus, his very spirit seemed turned to gall. The greed so long indulged now held him in control, and overpowered every other characteristic of his nature. This will be the experience of every man who persists in tampering with sin. The elements of depravity that are not resisted and overcome respond to Satan’s temptations, and the soul is led captive at his will. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 8

But Judas was not yet wholly hardened. Even after he had twice covenanted to betray the Saviour, there was opportunity for repentance. But at the Passover supper Jesus proved His own divinity by revealing the traitor’s purpose. He tenderly included Judas in His ministry to the disciples. But the last appeal of love was made, only to be rejected. Then the case of Judas was decided. The feet that Christ had washed, went forth to the betrayer’s work, and Satan took control of heart and mind. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 9

Judas reasoned that if Christ was to be crucified, the event must come to pass. His own act in betraying the Saviour would not change the result. If Jesus was not to die, it would only force Him to deliver Himself from His enemies. At all events, Judas would gain something by his treachery. He counted that he had made a sharp bargain in betraying his Lord. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 10

Judas did not, however, believe that Christ would permit Himself to be taken by His enemies. He thought that the priests would be cheated of their bribe, he would secure the pieces of silver, and Jesus would have a new opportunity of displaying His divine power. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 11

In the garden, Judas was filled with amazement as Jesus suffered Himself to be bound and led away. He anxiously followed the Saviour to the place of trial before the Jewish rulers. At every movement he looked for Him to surprise His enemies, by appearing before them in the character of the Son of God, setting at naught all their plots and power. But when he saw Him meekly submitting to their abuse, suffering Himself to be tried and condemned, his heart smote him. He realized that he had sold his divine Master to shame and death. He remembered the tenderness of Jesus toward him, and he was filled with remorse and anguish. He now despised the covetousness which Jesus had reproved, and which had tempted him to sell the Saviour for a few pieces of silver. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 12

As the trial drew to a close, Judas could no longer endure the torture of his guilty conscience. Suddenly a hoarse voice rang through the hall, sending a thrill of terror to the hearts of all present: Spare him, O Caiaphas! He has done nothing worthy of death. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 13

The tall form of Judas was now seen pressing through the startled crowd. His face was pale and haggard, and large drops of sweat stood upon his forehead. Rushing to the throne of judgment, he threw down before the high priests the pieces of silver that had been the price of his Lord’s betrayal. He eagerly grasped the robe of Caiaphas, and implored him to release Jesus, declaring that He was innocent of all crime. Caiaphas angrily shook him off, but was confused and knew not what to say. The perfidy of the priests was revealed before the people. It was evident to all that Judas had been bribed to deliver Jesus into the hands of those who sought His life. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 14

Judas continued his entreaties, exclaiming, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” But the high priest, having recovered his self-possession, answered with willing scorn, “What is that to us? See thou to that.” [Matthew 27:4.] The priests had been ready to make Judas their tool. They had taken advantage of his covetousness and hatred. Yet they despised his baseness. When he turned to them with a confession of his guilt, they spurned him, and left him to perish in his sins. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 15

Finding that his prayers were in vain, Judas fell at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging Him to be the Son of God, begging forgiveness of his sins, and imploring Him to exercise His Godlike power, and deliver Himself from His enemies. The Saviour did not reproach His betrayer either by look or word. He knew that he was suffering the bitterest remorse. He gazed compassionately upon Judas, and declared, that for this hour He had come into the world. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 16

A murmur of surprise ran through the assembly at the heavenly forbearance of the Saviour. Again a conviction swept over them that this man was more than mortal. But the question arose, if He was the Son of God, why did He not free Himself from His bonds, and rise triumphant above His accusers? 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 17

Judas perceived that his entreaties for the life of Jesus were in vain. In despair he rushed from the hall, exclaiming, It is too late! It is too late! He felt that he could not live to see Jesus crucified, and in any agony of remorse, he went out and hanged himself. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 18

Later that same day, on the road from Pilate’s judgment hall to Calvary, there came an interruption to the shouts and jeers of the wicked throng who were leading Jesus to the place of crucifixion. As they passed a retired spot, they saw at the foot of a lifeless tree, the body of Judas. It was a most revolting scene. His weight had broken the cord by which he had hanged himself to the tree. In falling, his body had been horribly mangled, and dogs were now devouring it. His remains were immediately buried out of sight; but there was less mockery among the throng, and many a pale face revealed the fearful thoughts within. Retribution seemed already visiting those who were guilty of the blood of Jesus. 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 19

Judas the betrayer of Christ bore testimony to His innocence. More than this, his very act in betraying the Saviour bore witness to His divine character, for it was in direct fulfillment of a prophecy of Him. In prophetic vision the prophet Zechariah had looked down the ages and seen the trial of God’s dear Son. The act of Judas is thus described: “And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.” [Zechariah 11:12, 13.] 12LtMs, Ms 120, 1897, par. 20