Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Judas Iscariot Hanged Himself On His Cross

Jesus instructed his disciples:

If any man will come after me, then let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The context of this instruction for a would-be-follower of Jesus is the teaching of Jesus that he must go to Jerusalem to suffer, and to be killed, and to be raised again on the third day. (Matthew 16:21-24; Mark 8:31-34; Luke 9:22-23) It is not an instruction for followers in general, but an instruction for a specific follower, one who would play a crucial role in the events that Jesus said must happen at Jerusalem. It is an instruction for Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, who also delivered him up. (God delivered him up, and Jesus delivered himself up.)

The instruction of Jesus, “let him deny himself,” meant that Judas should disregard his own concerns when those concerns conflicted with the teaching of Jesus about the things that he said must happen at Jerusalem.

Of course, Judas could not understand the instruction when Jesus gave it, but later, after Jesus saved him and identified him as the one to deliver him up, then he recalled and understood the instruction.

To clarify the meaning of the instruction, Jesus did not give a positive example, but Simon Peter provided a negative example, an example of self indulgence, which is recorded in the gospels of Matthew and Mark.

Simon Peter opposed the things that Jesus said must happen at Jerusalem.

“Be it far from thee, Lord. This shall not be unto thee.”

His attitude was an attitude common to all men: they oppose the suffering and death of those for whom they care. Simon could not accept the idea that the suffering and death of Jesus were things that be of God. Despite a rebuke by Jesus for this self indulgence,

Get thee behind me, Satan. Thou art an offense unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Peter drew his sword at the arrest of Jesus and cut off the right ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. And despite the resurrection of Jesus, Jesus needed still to command Simon to follow him, as his last words which were recorded by the Gospel of John.

If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

Simon Peter was like the son of a certain man who said, “I go,” and went not. He pledged to follow Jesus even to the laying down of his life, but he could never deny himself, which thing Jesus instructed that man to do, who would come after him.

In contrast to Simon Peter, Judas Iscariot was like the son who said, “I will not,” but afterward he repented, and went.

Jesus was in the process of laying down his life in accordance with scripture. He knew whom he would choose to deliver him up (Judas) and why he would choose him (to fulfill the scripture), but Jesus would not reveal these things to Judas until the hour came for him to depart out of this world to the Father, and until he saved him.

Judas responded to the command of the Pharisees and the chief priests, that if any man knew where Jesus were, he should show it. Judas went to the chief priests and made a covenant with them to deliver Jesus to them. This act by Judas was a betrayal of Jesus, and Jesus referred to it as “[He] hath lifted up his heel against me.

Jesus loved Judas, and Judas needed his love.

In response to the trespass against him, Jesus went to Judas and told him his fault between him and Judas alone. Also, Jesus told him that he was forgiven for his trespass. In this manner, Jesus saved Judas and gained his brother. These things were accomplished when Jesus staged the foot washing. See, “Judas Iscariot: Saved and Servant of Jesus.” Also, the influence of the devil, which had put into his heart to deliver up Jesus, was removed from him. Judas no longer desired to deliver up Jesus.

After the foot washing, Jesus announced that one of the twelve should deliver him up. Jesus indicated his choice of Judas to Judas alone. And he gave Judas a choice (“That which you do”) when he gave his final instruction (“do quickly.”)

Satan was already at work in Judas. (John 13:27) In his mind were the words, “Be it far from thee, Lord. This shall not be unto thee.” But he remembered the instruction of Jesus, given after Jesus rebuked Simon for those words:

“If any man will come after me, then let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

In response to this remembrance, Judas disregarded now his concerns which conflicted with the teaching of Jesus about the things which he said must happen at Jerusalem.

The covenant that he had made to deliver up Jesus to the chief priests (Thou hast said) had become his cross.

In service to Jesus, Judas put his shoulder into his cross and bore it out into the night.

Judas bore his cross to the palace of the high priest and stood by as men and officers were assembled into an arresting party. He bore his cross as he guided the assembly to the garden at Gethsemane. He bore his cross as he kissed Jesus to identify him to the officers. He bore his cross, accompanied by Simon, as he followed the assembly back to the palace of the high priest. He bore his cross to the hall of judgment. And when he saw that Jesus was condemned, he bore his cross to the Temple, where he confessed his sin and Jesus to men:

“I have sinned in that I have delivered up the innocent blood.”

From the Temple, he bore his cross until he collapsed; and falling face forward, he cried his heart (bowels) out.

There he hanged himself on his cross. Utterly repentant, he laid down his life of sin.

                                                                 JUDAS ISCARIOT: STAGES OF THE CROSS
I offer these words only in my own name.

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