Ju-das Is-car-iot was one of the band of twelve men who stayed with Je-sus all the time; who went from place to place with him, ate and drank with him, and did not leave him day nor night. For three years he had known the Lord's whole life; had heard his wise words, and seen his good deeds, and the rest of the band thought that he looked up to and loved him as much as they did. But it seems that he cared more for wealth than for aught else, and that is why he liked to bear the bag in which the funds were kept.
In a heart filled with the love of gold there is no room for the love of Je-sus; and when Ju-das found that the king-dom of Je-sus was not of this world, and that he had naught to give his friends, he made up his mind to sell Je-sus to his foes.
He heard that the court sits that day in the house of the high priest who had long sought to get hold of Je-sus, so he goes there and asks how much they would pay him if he would give him up to them. They named a small sum, and from that hour Ju-das sought a chance to give up Je-sus to the Court in such a time and way as not to rouse the rage of his friends.
The next day was that on which the Great Feast was to be kept, when the lamb was to be slain at God's house, and all were to eat of it, and think how God had led them from the land of Egypt, where they had been slaves so long. In all the years that had passed since then the Jews had not once failed to keep this feast. Each spring they went to Je-ru-sa-lem and ate the meal in just the way God bade them, and as it was now time for the feast, the twelve asked Jesus where it should be eaten this year.
He said, "Go to such a man and say to him, the Lord bids us say to thee, My time is at hand. I will keep the feast at thy house with my friends. He will show you a large guest room in which you may set out the feast."
So that night he sat down in this man's house to eat his last meal with the twelve who had been his close friends so long. As they ate, he said to them, "My heart's wish has been to keep this feast with you. But I tell you that one of you acts the spy and waits a chance to give me up to my foes! His hand is now on the board with me! Ju-das knew what these words meant, but the rest did not, and it grieved them to think that one of them could do an act so base. Each one asked, "Lord, is it I?" None of them seems to have thought of Ju-das, and each doubts his own heart. "Lord, is it I?" And Jesus said to them, "It is one of the twelve which shall dip with me in the dish." This did not lay their fears to rest, so Pe-ter made a sign to John to ask him once more to tell whom he meant.
So John asks, "Lord, who is it?" Je-sus says much as he had done at first, "It is he to whom I shall give a sop when I dip it." One dish at this feast was a sauce made of some wine and dates and figs. When the time came to serve the herbs, the chief would wrap them round a piece of bread and dip them in this sauce and pass them on to each of the guests. So Jesus did at this time, and Ju-das seems to have been the first to whom he gave this sop. When he took it, he was false as to ask, "Lord, is it I?" Then Je-sus said to him, "Thou hast said," and then adds, "What you mean to do, do with speed."
Ju-das left the house and went straight to the chief priests and scribes and Phar-i-sees and told them that Jesus was now at the feast, and that as soon as the meal was at an end he meant to go to the Mount of Olives to pray; he said as there would be no one with him but his disciples, this would be a good time to send a band to take him, and he would show their men the way.
While they sat still at the board Je-sus told his friends what he would like to have them do from time to time to keep him in mind when he should have gone back to his home on high. This is what he would have them do. He took one of the thin cakes of bread which were made use of at the feast, and broke it in bits, and gave it to them and said, "Take, eat, this is my flesh which I give for you. Do this that you may keep me in mind --- me, my words, my deeds.
Then he took the wine cup which made part of the feast, and gave thanks, and gave it to them with the words, "Drink ye all of it. This is my blood, which is shed to wash out your sins."
And so to this day we do as he bade his friends to do that night. We keep a feast from time to time, in which we eat bread, and drink from a cup, and think of Je-sus, and what he did for us. Each time we do so, Je-sus gives us a new pledge of his love to us, which was so great that he laid down his own life for us, and we give him a pledge that we will love and serve him. St. Paul says, "As oft as ye eat this bread and drink of this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death till he come."
Je-sus spoke more words of peace and love to them. He blessed them, and said, "Fear not,
and do not let your hearts be sad. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you --- not such peace as the world gives, but the true peace that none but my dis-ci-ples can feel. Then they sung a hymn, and went out though it was night, to the Mount of Olives.
Here was a grove of the trees which gave their name to the mount, where Je-sus had been wont to seek rest and to pray. When they came to the gate which led to this nook, he took Peter, and James, and John in with him, but bade the eight, "Sit ye here while I go and pray."
He went a stone's throw from them, and fell on his face and prayed three times, "0 my Fa-ther, let this cup pass from me if it be thy will: but not as I will, but as thou wilt." It was God's will that his dear Son should drain the cup to the dregs, but he gave him strength to do it, and sent an an-gel to help and cheer him on this last day of his life on earth. While Je-sus prayed, the dis-ci-ples, worn out with grief and want of rest had slept; but now Je-sus waked them and told them to rise, for Ju-das had come with a band of armed men to take him from them.
Ju-das greets Je-sus with a kiss. He has been wont to do this no doubt, for in the East this is the way men meet their friends. But the kiss to-night is a sign. Ju-das has told the band, "He whom I shall kiss, that same is he. Take him, hold him fast, and lead him back to those who sent you."
"Hail, Lord!" said he, as he gave him the false kiss. "Friend, why art ye come? Ju-das, dost thou give up the Son of man with a kiss?" That is all that he said to Ju-das. Then Je-sus steps forth from the shade of the grove to meet the band, and asks, "Whom seek ye? Je-sus of Naz-a-reth. I am he." At these words they shrank back, and fell to the ground. But his hour had come. He lets them rise, and asks once more, "Whom seek ye?" and they said, "Je-sus of Naz-a-reth."
"Have I not told you I am he? If ye seek me, take me, and let these men who are with me go their way." When the friends of Je-sus saw the band lay hold of him, and bind his hands, they said, "Lord, shall we not smite with the sword?" And Pe-ter who could not wait to be told, smote with such haste that he did not take good aim, and just cut off the ear of one of the men. Je-sus bade Pe-ter put up the sword, and he touched the man's ear and healed him; thus the last good deed he did was to help one who had tried to harm him. He said to Pe-ter, "Do you think that this mob could take me, if I did not let them? If I would but ask for them, would not God send his hosts to my aid? But how then could that end for which I came to the world be brought to pass?"
To the chief priests, and to all the crowd which came out to seize him he said, "Why have you come out to take me as if I were a thief, with swords and staves? I sat with you in God's house, and taught you from day to day, but you laid no hands on me. But this is your hour."
When the friends of Je-sus heard these words from him, they knew that there was no hope that he would use his might to save his own life; so they all left him and fled! All but Ju-das, who goes with the band that he may clutch the price of Je-sus' blood.
J-e-sus was led at once to the house of the high priest, where were all the chief priests and the whole court, though it was not yet dawn. They did not wait till day, but make haste to do their foul work and doom Je-sus to death, by stealth, so that his friends may not try to save him.
The court could make out no case. They ask Je-sus to tell the names of those who were in his band, and to make known what he has taught. Je-sus bids them not to ask him, but to ask the crowds whom he has taught from place to place, in all the land, and in the House of God at Je-ru-sa-lem. One of the guards who stood by struck Je-sus (his hands were bound fast you know) with the palm of his hand, and said, "Dost thou speak in that way to the high priest?" "If I speak ill, prove it; but if well, why dost thou smite me?" said Je-sus. No proofs could be brought that he had done or said ought that was bad. But at last, two false men were brought in who swore that they had heard him say that he could tear down the House of God, and build it up in three days. Then the high priest bade him make known what he had to say to this charge. Je-sus held his peace.
Then the high priest said to him, "Art thou the Christ, the Son of God? I charge thee in the name of God to tell us if thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Je-sus said, "I am; but ye shall yet see the Son of man sit on the right hand of God, and come in the clouds."
Then the high priest rent his clothes, to show what a shock it gave him to hear Je-sus thus claim to be the Son of God. "What need have we to seek for proofs? We have heard his own words. What do you think?" Then all the court said, "He ought to be put to death."
The court broke up now for a time, to meet once more in a few hours. Je-sus is left in charge of the guard in the high priest's house. Then the men that hold Je-sus, mock him and smite him. Some spit on him. Then they blind his eyes and strike him on the face, and bid him tell who smote him. "Tell us, thou Christ, who is he who smote thee." Je-sus, faint with the woe which he had born in Geth-sem-ane, and with all that he has been through in this long night, bears all this base spite, and ill use. He is dumb, though a word from him could have slain them all. All this took place at night, but by the laws of the Jews, a man could not be tried for his life at night, so the court had to meet once more by day, to make sure what they had done.
As soon as it was day Je-sus was led to the court, and the same form was gone through with as when they had sat at night. They ask, "Art thou the Christ?" and he says, "If I tell you, you will not have faith in me." Then said they all, "Art thou then the Son of God?"
He said to them, "Ye say that I am." Then they all said, "What need have we to hear proof? We have heard it from his own mouth. There was one man to whom the doom of Je-sus by the court brought grief, and shame, and death. Things had not turned out as Ju-das thought they would. It was plain that Jesus would not use his might to save his own life, nor prove that he was the Christ of God by some great sign, which should force the court to own him.
Ju-das, was of course, cast out by his old friends, but no one else took him up. The chief priests and scribes who had made him their tool have no word for him now that they have Jesus in their hands. They pay him his bribe, but bad as they are, they scorn him as he takes it, for it is the price of the blood of his best friend, and much as they want men who will swear in their court that Je-sus has said such and such words, they tempt Ju-das with no more bribes. He was then, as now, and through all time he will be, the scorn of the foes as well as of the friends of Je-sus.
His poor soul can stand no more. He breaks in on the court which would not call him, and at this late hour he gives in his word for Je-sus. His is the first voice to speak for him, in whom there was no sin. He cries, "It is my sin that I gave him up to you, him who is pure of all sin!"
"What is that to us, see thou to that." Then Ju-das casts down the bribe, and went out and put an end to his own life.
The chief priests pick up the coin, but will not put it back with the funds of the house of God, for it has the stain of blood on it, since it bought the blood of Je-sus. They at last make up their minds to buy a field in which to lay the dead who have no tomb of their own, nor friends to give them a grave. And to this day that place which they thus bought, bears the name of the Field of Blood.
Though the doom of death has been set on Je-sus by the court, yet they have no right to do the deed. The Jews were not free at this time, and they must ask leave of Rome ere they can put a man to death.