Judas, the Instigator of the Betrayal
More proof that Judas was not a timid man who delivered Our Lord to the Jews through some momentary weakness comes to light when we read the description of the his plot with the Pharisees.
Sr. Anne Catherine Emmerick
In fact, it was he who took the initiative to deliver Our Lord into their hands, and when the Pharisees were doubtful that it was the right moment, it was he who presented strong arguments to convince them to carry out the Deicide.
This remarkable description should be an appropriate response to those who are trying to absolve the Traitor.
Judas and his troops
Judas had not expected that his betrayal would have the result that it did. He had been anxious to obtain the promised reward and to please the Pharisees by delivering Jesus into their hands. He had never calculated on things going so far or thought that Christ would be brought to judgment and crucified. His mind was engrossed with money alone, and for a long time he had been in contact with some astute Pharisees and cunning Sadducees, who constantly incited him on to betrayal by flattering him.
He was tired of the wandering and persecuted life which the Apostles led. For several months he had continually stolen from the alms which were consigned to his care, and his greed, aroused by the liberality of Magdalen when she poured the precious perfume on Our Lord, incited him to commit the greatest of crimes.
He had always hoped that Jesus would establish a temporal kingdom, and bestow upon him some brilliant and lucrative post in it. Not seeing it appear, he turned his thoughts toward amassing a fortune. He saw that sufferings and persecutions were on the increase, and he sought to be in good relations with the powerful enemies of the Lord as danger approached. For he saw that Jesus did not become a King, whereas the dignity and power of the High Priest made a very strong impression upon his mind.
Every day he got closer and closer to his agents, who were constantly flattering him and assuring him in strong terms that, in any case, they would soon put an end to Jesus. He became more and more engrossed in these criminal thoughts, and in those last few days he had multiplied his trips in order to induce the chief priests to come to some agreement. But they were unwilling to act yet, and they treated him with contempt.
They said that there was little time left before the festival, and that this would cause disorder and a tumult among the people. Only the Sanhedrin listened to his proposals with some degree of attention. After Judas had sacrilegiously received the Blessed Sacrament, Satan took entire possession of him, and he went out at once to complete his crime.
He first sought out those persons who had hitherto flattered him, and who received him with pretended friendship. Others joined the party, among whom were Caiphas and Annas, but the latter spoke to him in a haughty and mocking tone. All of them were extremely undecided and far from feeling any confidence of success because they did not trust Judas.
I saw the empire of Hell divided against itself: Satan wanted the crime of the Jews and he longed for the death of Jesus, the Converter of souls, the Holy Teacher, the Righteous One whom he detested. But at the same time he felt a certain interior fear of the death of this innocent Victim, who would not flee from his persecutors. I saw him, on the one hand, inciting the hatred and fury of the enemies of Jesus Christ, and on the other, insinuating to some of their number that Judas was a wicked, despicable wretch, and that the trial could not be held before the festival or a sufficient number of witnesses against Jesus be gathered together.
Each one proposed something different, and before everything they asked Judas: "Shall we be able to take Jesus? Has He not armed men with Him?"
And the traitor replied: "No, He is alone with eleven disciples. He is greatly depressed, and the eleven are cowards."
He told them that now or never was the time to take Jesus, and that later he might not have it in his power to deliver Him, and that perhaps He would never return to Him again, because for some days it had been very clear that the other disciples of Jesus had begun to suspect him.
He also told them that if they did not seize Jesus now, He would make His escape and return with an army of His supporters to have Himself proclaimed King. These threats of Judas produced their effect.
They acceded to his proposals, and he received the price of his betrayal - the thirty coins of silver. These coins were oblong, with holes in their side and strung together to form a chain; they also bore a certain effigy.
Judas, resentful of the disdain they showed him, allowed himself to be carried away by his pride to the point of offering to return the money so that they could offer it in the Temple, in order to appear in their eyes as a just and disinterested man. But they rejected his proposal because the price of blood could not be offered in the Temple. Judas saw how much they despised him, and a deep resentment smoldered in him. He had not expected to reap the bitter fruits of his betrayal before it was accomplished; but he had gone so far with these men that he was in their power, and he could not escape them.
They watched him closely, and would not let him leave their presence until he explained to them exactly the path they were to take in order to seize Jesus. Three Pharisees accompanied him when he went down into a room where the soldiers of the Temple were; some of whom were Jews and the rest from various nations.
When everything was settled and a sufficient number of soldiers gathered together, Judas hastened first to the Cenacle, accompanied by a servant of the Pharisees, to tell them whether Jesus was still there, as they would have seized His person without difficulty there after securing the doors. He agreed to let them know by the same messenger.
Shortly before Judas had received the price for his betrayal, a Pharisee had gone out and sent seven slaves to fetch wood with which to prepare the Cross of Jesus ...
Judas returned and said that Jesus was no longer in the Cenacle, but that He must certainly be on the Mount of Olives, in the place where He was accustomed to pray. He requested that only a small party of soldiers be sent with him, lest the disciples, who were on the watch, should become alarmed and stir up a sedition.
Three hundred men were to be stationed at the gates and in the streets of Ophel ...
The traitor also told them to be careful lest Jesus should escape them, since He, by mysterious means, had so often disappeared in the mountain and made himself invisible to those around Him. He advised them to bind Him with a chain, and to use certain magical means to prevent Him from breaking it.
The Jews received this advice with contempt and told him: "If we once have Him in our hands, we will take care not to let Him escape."
Judas next made arrangements with those who were to accompany him. He wanted to enter the garden before them, and kiss and greet Jesus as a friend and disciple: then the soldiers should present themselves and take Jesus. He wanted the disciples to believe he were there by chance; and then, when the soldiers made their appearance, he would flee like the other disciples and they would not hear of him again.
He also thought there perhaps a tumult would ensue, that the Apostles would defend themselves, and that Jesus would disappear, as He had done so often before. This thought came to him when his pride was hurt by the disdainful manner of Jesus' enemies. But he did not repent, for he had wholly given himself to Satan.
Nor did he want the soldiers following him to bring chains and cords, and his accomplices pretended to accede to his wishes. In reality they treated him as a traitor who was not to be trusted, but to be cast off as soon as he had been used.
The soldiers had orders to watch Judas carefully and not to leave him until they seized Jesus, for he had received his reward and they feared that he would run off with the money and that they would not take Jesus, or that another would be taken in His place.
The band of men chosen to accompany Judas was composed of twenty soldiers selected from the Temple guard and from those who were under the command of Annas and Caiaphas…
All twenty had swords; in addition, some had pikes and carried sticks with lanterns and wind torches; but when they set out, they lighted only one. It was at first intended that Judas be accompanied by a more numerous escort, but he drew their attention to the fact that so numerous an escort would be too easily seen, because the Mount of Olives commanded a view of the whole valley.
Most of the soldier remained, therefore, at Ophel, and sentinels were posted everywhere to put down any attempt that might be made to free Jesus. Judas marched with the twenty soldiers; but he was followed at some distance by four bailiffs of the lowest class who carried cords and chains; after them came the six agents with whom Judas had dealt with from the beginning. They included a priest and a confidant of Annas, a godson of Caiaphas, and two Pharisees and two Sadducees who were also Herodians. These men were flatterers of Annas and Caiaphas: they served in the capacity of spies and were most bitter enemies of Jesus.
The soldiers remained on friendly terms with Judas until they reached the place where the road divides the Garden of Olives from the Garden of Gethsemane: upon arriving there, they refused to allow him to advance alone, and treated him with much insolence and harshness.
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