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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE CONSPIRACY WITH JUDAS ISCARIOT

Matt 26:1-5 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Matt 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 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. (Also See Mark 14:1-2; 10-11; Luke 22:1-6; John 11:55-57; 12:10-11)

Jesus had just completed His prophecies teaching His disciples about the destruction of the temple and the fall of the Jewish nation. He also taught them about His second coming, which would immediately be followed by the eternal judgment for peoples of all nations and all ages. Having finished all these sayings, He said unto His disciples, Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. The feast of the Passover was established by God to remind all Jews every year about His miraculous deliverance that enabled them to escape from under many years of bondage by the Egyptian rulers (See Exod. 12:1-14). It was a seven-day celebration during which Jews were not to eat any leavened bread, and is often referred to as the feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus told His disciples that only two days remained before this feast was to begin. This holy day always began on the 15th day of the month of Abib (Nisan); hence the date Jesus made this announcement must have been the 13th day of Abib.

Although Jesus had, for months, even years, reminded His disciples of the impending death by crucifixion that He must suffer in the holy city of Jerusalem, they still refused to accept it as fact and totally failed to comprehend its true meaning. Yet, Jesus kept reminding them of its inevitability. And here, He assures them that events leading to His crucifixion was to begin in two days with His betrayal into the hand of those that would demand His death. Adam Clarke, in his commentary on these verses, makes this profound statement: "Having instructed His disciples and the Jews by His discourses, edified them by His example, convinced them by His miracles, He now prepares to redeem them by His blood!"

It appears that because of His popularity and following that He gained among the Jews, and because of the threat He presented to the Jewish religious leadership, the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people met together, along with the high priest, who was called Caiaphas. This gathering represented the ruling body of the Jewish nation known as the Sanhedrin. The reason for their assembly had been planned for many months and was well known to all. With one unified intention, these Jewish leaders consulted (amongst themselves) that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill Him. To take Jesus by subtlety means to capture Him in a deceiving, crafty manner without it being generally known. The reason for attempting to take Jesus secretly was because they did not want to create an uproar among the people. They thought that if their attempt to do so was made on the feast day, that is, the days of the Passover, it may create riots. During these days, the thousands of Jews from all parts of the world came to Jerusalem for the holy celebrations. The Jewish leaders feared that if they took away a "teacher" as popular as Jesus, the masses of people may be influenced by His followers that would result in some form of civil unrest.

In the accounts of both Matthew and Mark, we find the narrative at this point interrupted with Jesus entering the home of Simon the leper where a woman came unto Him and anointed Him with a very precious ointment. Luke's account, however, says that the meeting of the Sanhedrin was immediately followed by Satan entering the heart of Judas Iscariot causing him to go to these Jewish leaders and tell them how he might betray Him (Jesus) to them (Luke 22:3-4). There have been many debates on this passage, but it seems that Satan, like Jesus, does not enter the heart of any man or woman without being invited to do so. In this instance, Judas appears to give in to his inordinate, covetous desire for money and the things it can buy. When one is blinded by avariciousness, the door to their heart (mind) is opened and Satan will enter and close the door behind him, in order to keep any righteous influence of Christ Jesus from entering.

Desiring to sell his services to those that sought to take Jesus and slay Him, Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? When Judas asked, "what will ye give me" to commit an act of sin, he had already abandoned the righteous life of following Christ Jesus, and was already under the complete power of Satan's sinful influence on his life. Indeed, he had already enlisted in the army of the devil. Not knowing that Judas Iscariot had already abandoned following Jesus, it seems very unlikely that the Jewish leaders thought it possible that one of Jesus' own disciples would conspire against Him and offer to deliver Him up to their authority. Because of this, the lesson indicates that Judas Iscariot went to them; they did not directly seek his betrayal services.

His promise to deliver Jesus to them probably means that he would direct Him to a predetermined place where he would identify Him, allowing them to take Him into custody. Knowing their desire for secrecy, the place would be one, which would be less noticeable and avoid any uproar among the people that knew Jesus. So when the members of the Sanhedrin met with him, they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. Both Mark and Luke mention only that they promised him money for this conspiracy; only Matthew reveals the exact amount of money to be paid. Having given in to Satan's alluring temptations of material possessions, Judas Iscariot, from that time ...sought opportunity to betray Him. Mark wrote that he sought how he might conveniently betray Him (14:11), while Luke said that he sought opportunity to betray Him unto them in the absence of the multitude (22:6).

As an afterthought, consider this. The value of the precious ointment used by the woman to anoint Jesus - the ointment that was taken from the alabaster box, which Mark identified as being worth 300 pence. This amount is said to be worth 400 Denarii in another comparable form of currency during the days Christ's ministry on earth. The value of the 30 pieces of silver, which Judas Iscariot accepted from the Jewish leaders to betray the Son of God, had an equivalent value of 90 Denarii. The benevolent woman that anointed Jesus, gave 400 Denarii in order to domonstrate her love for Him. However, Judas Iscariot, requested only 90 Denarii in order to demonstrate his betrayed of Jesus. From this we learn that we must give up much of our talents, time, and other worldly possessions in order to demonstrate our love for Christ and His church. However, Satan and his followers tell us to keep our talents, time, and all our worldly possessions for ourselves. And not only that, but they will even pay you in cheap, and fleeting, worldly pleasure to do so. The questions that face all people of the world is: first, how much are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus and a hope of eternal life in heaven, and second, how much are you willing to bargain for in return for betraying Jesus and receiving an eternal life of punishment in hell? Think about it! Jesus told His disciples during His life on earth, and tells us today: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (Matt 16:24-26)?