Summary: The betrayal of Jesus and the demise of Judas.
THE FALL OF JUDAS ISCARIOT.
Jesus had prophesied how and when He was going to die (Matthew 26:2) and, despite His enemies’ determination that it should not be ‘during the feast’ (Matthew 26:5), things had moved on apace. Judas Iscariot had effectively joined the conspiracy (Matthew 26:15-16), but being ‘one of the twelve’ (Matthew 26:14) he had no evidence against Jesus. If Jesus was anything but innocent, then Judas would have known, and would have had ample opportunity to tell the conspirators of it.
On the night when they ate the Passover, Jesus prophesied that it would be one of the twelve who would betray Him (Matthew 26:20-21). No-one accused Judas Iscariot, but each searched their own heart, ‘Lord, is it I?’ (Matthew 26:22). Then Judas asked, ‘Rabbi, is it I?’ to which Jesus answered, ‘Thou hast said’ (Matthew 26:25).
That was the night of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, after which the rest of the party made their way towards Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30). Judas, again referred to as ‘one of the twelve’, went again to Jesus’ enemies, who sent armed men to arrest Him (Matthew 26:47). Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:48-50).
‘All this was done,’ we are told ‘that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled’ (Matthew 26:56a). For example: ‘Yea, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat my bread, has lifted up his heel against me’ (Psalm 41:9). Jesus called that man, ‘the son of perdition’ (John 17:12). Judas fell away, we are told, ‘that he might go to his own place’ (Acts 1:25).
‘Then all the disciples forsook (Jesus) and fled’ (Matthew 26:56b).
Jesus was arraigned before an illegal court convened during the night at the high priest’s house (Matthew 26:57). They sought witnesses, but found none (Matthew 26:59-60) - not even Judas Iscariot. So they used false witnesses to twist Jesus’ words - but even they did not agree (cf. Mark 14:59).
Then, at last, the high priest accused Jesus of blasphemy, and they all agreed that Jesus was ‘guilty of death’ (Matthew 26:65-66). If so, then they were obliged to stone Him (Leviticus 24:16). Instead, as the new chapter begins, “they bound Him” (Matthew 27:1-2), and handed Him over to the Gentiles (cf. Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 20:18-19). Later the same enemies would profess, ‘we have no king but Caesar’ (John 19:15), thus unwittingly indicating that ‘the sceptre’ had indeed ‘passed from Judah,’ and that ‘Shiloh’ was come (Genesis 49:10).
The word used for the “repentance” of Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:3) is not the usual word for repentance (as in Matthew 3:2), but more a suggestion of regret (as in 2 Corinthians 7:8). 2 Corinthians 7:10 uses both words: ‘for godly sorrow worketh repentance not to be repented of’ (K. J. V.)- or, literally, ‘not to be REGRETTED.’
Now, thus remorseful, “Judas, who had betrayed Him, when He saw He was condemned” at last gave His testimony: “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.” Jesus’ enemies were not interested: “What is that to us?” they retorted, “See thou to that” (Matthew 27:3-4).
Judas threw the silver coins at their feet, and went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5). ‘Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed!’ Jesus had said (Matthew 26:24). According to Matthew, the chief priests took the “blood money” so rudely restored, and bought the potter’s field in which Judas had committed suicide to be used as a cemetery for strangers (Matthew 27:6-8).
Matthew rounds off this section with his familiar glance back into the Old Testament: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken” (Matthew 27:9-10). Every part of the Passion was playing out not only as Jesus predicted, but as the Scriptures had long before foretold (cf. Zechariah 11:12-13).