Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 11. Chapter 11: Christ Constraining Satan

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 11. Chapter 11: Christ Constraining Satan

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SUBJECT: 11. Chapter 11: Christ Constraining Satan

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Christ Constraining Satan

And after the sop Satan entered into him.

—Joh_13:27 a.

AS Christ enters the room of the Passover to celebrate the sacrament with His disciples for the last time under the shadow of the Old Covenant, Satan steals in beside Him.

This is not the first time that the satanic element has revealed itself in the history of the passion. But the feature that distinguishes the present manifestation of Satan from his previous interventions is that it accentuates the contrast between the divine and the satanic influences upon the human life of Jesus. Formerly the satanic element imposed itself upon Him; now He Himself beckons it to come out, constrains it to reveal itself. Then Christ said: Get thee behind me, Satan. Now He says: Satan, come forth. It is almost midnight now, and each stroke of the clock sounds a heavier note than the one that went before—that is, to those who have ears to hear.

There are three dangers against which we must be on guard as we study this subject.

The first danger is that we limit ourselves to Judas Iscariot as a person, that we interest ourselves solely in the psychological complications of his character, lose ourselves in the drama of his trying life. As we see it, a highly important principle which is binding in such studies is that we may allow no subsidiary figure on the way of suffering dominate our thoughts to the exclusion of the central figure. Christ is always the one for whom, to whom, and by whom all things on that road move and have being.

The second danger is that, inasmuch as the character of Judas is a consideration, we tend to make him as wicked as we possibly can. Since early times men have fairly exhausted their imaginations in an effort to find terms vindictive enough for Judas. He has been presented as the most flagrant example of the sheerest delight in sinning. Hence it was not a treacherous play of Dante’s own creative imagination which induced him to put Judas in the nethermost pit of hell in his Vision. Dante’s judgment had the confirmation of many observers before his time, and of as many after. Nevertheless, it does not require long argumentation to point out the inadequacy of this supposedly rightly calculated distribution of justice. There are people in whom sin reaches a profounder degree of wickedness and insults God worse than it does and is in Judas Iscariot. He was not guilty of what Jesus calls a “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” Therefore there are those who sink farther into the slough of wickedness and guilt than Judas did. We happen to recall a woodcut on which two wasted figures are depicted. The man on it has a high silk hat, set rakishly on his head. A big cigar protrudes from a lecherous mouth. He wears white gloves on his hands, and an expression of fatuous disdain on his face. The other figure is a strumpet whom the wastrel is escorting on his arm, Both are pictured against the dark background of a large city. As they proceed they throw a sidelong glance at the naked body of a tortured Christ on the cross, lying athwart the very street in which they have been soaking themselves with liquor. The woodcut depicts how haughtily indifferent the ungodly life of many people is to the presence of Christ; how terribly blasphemous the coarse, presumptuous laughter is of those arrogant ones who do not even have time to take a cigar out of the mouth in the presence of the Crucified, and who fall asleep indifferently after seeing such a spectacle. We believe the kind of people typified by this woodcut do far greater violence to Christ than Judas Iscariot ever intended to do. Paul spoke of himself as “the chief of sinners” and he did not add the qualification, “except for Judas Iscariot.”

The third danger to which we had reference is the tendency to regard Judas solely as a traitor, to wholly identify his transgression with treachery. The betrayal of the Master for thirty pieces of silver has become a symbolical, almost a mythological, phenomenon and motive throughout all ages in history. Too often we fix our attention on that aspect of Judas’ transgression alone. To do so is unwarranted. First of all, we can say that if the essence of Judas’ deed was a betrayal of confidence, many other men, known or unknown by name to history, have been his equals in such treachery, and many other people have proved more intrinsically despicable than he. Moreover, if we see only the betrayer in Judas, and fail to relate the crucial conflict of his life to the very special significance of Jesus, and to the critical time in which He made His appearance in the world, then we, too, wholeheartedly agree with Dante in his assignment of guilt. For Dante in his Inferno placed the betrayers of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, in the same circle of condemnation in which he placed Judas. Yes, this notion of guilt is fair, is the only right one, if one identifies the whole of the sin of Judas with a betrayal of confidence, of trust, of loyalty, of a high spiritual ideal, or of one of the heroes of such spiritual vision. But, for those of us who believe the Scriptures, such ranking of Judas with those two past-masters of treachery is an effective warning against the very dialectic which is being applied in arriving at the conclusion. The peculiar sin of Judas is not properly defined as a betrayal, but is better circumscribed as a self-reliance, a self-assertion, in matters affecting the deepest needs of his life. His was a self-assertion which caused him to reject the vision of the Messiah which Jesus presented to him, against which he could say nothing, and to substitute for it his own conception, a notion compatible with his egocentric, materialistic, Judaistic character.

If we look at the subject in that light, we are immediately prompted to a profound humiliation. We keep back all vindictive words which we might otherwise feel inclined to fling at Judas. For, looking at it in this way, we see him standing dangerously close to us. However, there is this to gain from the humiliation: we learn to see the Christ, the central figure in the room of the Passover.

As we see the soul of Jesus engage in battle with that of Judas, as we see the Spirit of Christ take issue with Satan, who, although previously present, now enters into Judas, we are interested to learn the answer to this question: Does the struggle between the Spirit of Christ and the Satan in Judas begin now, or is it a struggle which now comes to overt expression for the first, or for a repeated, time, but which has been present constantly?

The answer to that question can be an unequivocal one. It is true that according to John’s account Satan entered into Judas as this disciple sat over against Christ at the table of the Pass- over. But we also read, and in an earlier passage, that Satan had revealed himself in the soul of Judas before (Joh_13:2; Luk_22:3). It was not, therefore, the first time that the satanic element appeared in Judas and came to expression in acts of betrayal and unbelief. The Bible itself tells us that “Satan had put it in the heart of Judas” to betray Christ.

A long history of sin antedated those earlier words, too. They represent the culmination of an anxious spiritual conflict. We shall not say much about that history, for much has been written and is available about it. There are a few particulars to which we must refer.

We proceed on the assumption that what comes to expression in Judas at this time in the hall of the Passover was latent in him from the beginning. When a person is regenerated by the Spirit of God, something reaches expression in him which previously was no part of him, for regeneration introduces a new and perfect principle into his human life which was utterly alien to him before. But in the life in which regeneration has not taken place evil branches can grow from the evil root which is there. Whatever in such a life reaches eventual fruition was present in it from the beginning.

The Scriptures teach us that the basic sin of Judas was not unrelated to his love of money. We may not ignore that bit of information. Because of a pronounced craving for wealth, his character becomes one-sided. It was not centered in God, the chief Good and only Owner, but in himself. However, this fundamental greed was suppressed for a time. The longing for wealth persisted but did not come to external expression. Some force acted upon the life of Judas which checked for a while that inclination to evil.

That force was Jesus’ entrance into his life. We believe that Judas, when, at the beginning of his responsible, mature life, he met Jesus and followed him, was acting from honest motives— using the word “honest” in a strictly human sense, as designating the relation of one person to another in the common, popular way. It may even be the case that to an extent the experience of Judas was parallel to that of Jesus. We know that Christ had Judas come to Him after prayer; who can say whether he in response may not have come to Jesus with a prayer in his heart? There was so much in Jesus that captivated him, put him into an ecstasy, perhaps (the Greek of the New Testament is by no means stinted in its use of that word). In the first place, the preaching of Jesus must have made a strong impression upon him. For Jesus in a strong and aggressive way preached the coming of the new Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. And Judas was eager to hear of that.

Remember, Judas was a man of Judea,[1] and Judea was the home of orthodox Jews. In comparison with Galilee it could justly be called the fortress of Jewish orthodoxy. It was the country of the scribes and rabbis. There the law was interpreted; there scholars tried to catch the spirit of the national history; there, in a chauvinistic and Pharisaic manner, the traditions of the fathers were taught in both lower and higher education. They who must teach and explain the traditions of Israel and hold them up as a model were stationed there. In short, Judea was the cultural seat of the nation, the center of theological and political thought. Consequently it was in Judea that the will to revolution was secretly fostered. In Judea the grim animosity of Jewish nationalists, theologians, and professors of history was constantly being nurtured. There, too, however, the unobtrusive but determined Roman soldiers insisted by means of the sword that Rome should retain the leadership. There then Jesus came, preaching a virile message of a new Kingdom, bringing purely eschatological ideas to bear upon Israel’s inert and wasted spirit. No wonder that Judas, a Jew of Jews, an ultra- orthodox Judean, a man who loved his country passionately and was eager to see her future glory realized—no wonder that he was quite enamored of Jesus’ teaching.

[1] Is-Cariot: a native of Cariot.

Moreover Jesus performed miracles. Energies of the coming era were being abundantly and powerfully revealed. Judea became a stage on which the whole world might see heavenly forces at play.

Add to these features the nobility of Jesus’ soul. That must have captivated Judas altogether. Consider the pedagogical wisdom of the Master. He gave His disciples work to do. Judas, also, was allowed to go as a kind of missionary to the “province,” the country of sleepers, to shake them out of their lethargy quite properly, to perform miracles, to preach, and to fight demons. Really, it was a glorious time. Things were going wonderfully. Never had Judas lived with such zest as now.

And the disturbing thought lingers that at some time men will thank God for what Judas meant to their spiritual and eternal lives.

But matters could not remain as favorable as this. Jesus never rests at any one point. Each day His course seems to veer into a new direction. And as Judas observed that, He gradually arrived at the disappointing conclusion that at bottom Jesus and he were growing estranged from each other.

One large issue on which they simply could not agree—a very live one to any orthodox Judean—was that matter of the Messiah concept. Of course, their difference of opinion on that count did not become apparent to Judas immediately. It did not, for— fatal tendency!—Judas kept his ponderings to himself. He said not a word about any conflict he felt to anyone around him. But in his heart he grew more alien to Christ constantly. As time went on he saw more and more clearly that what Jesus did and did not do was incompatible with what he himself dared to hope and expect of the coming Messiah. The theology that Judas loved was that unbroken series of false prejudices which so conspicuously characterized the orthodox wisdom of the scribes and rabbis. Nor was that emphasis at all peculiar to Judas. All of the disciples of Jesus at first nurtured in their hearts—even more than they rationalized in their minds—a materialistic conception of the hope of the Messiah.

At first only a very slight difference distinguishes Salome, the mother of James and John, from Judas. You remember that it was she who asked positions of honor for her two sons in the kingdom which, she supposed, the Messiah would soon establish. She, too, assumed that Jesus would, within a comparatively short time, build an earthly kingdom, which would assert itself against Roman authority, and fling a broad national banner to the skies. In such a kingdom, naturally, honorary functions would be assigned and positions of importance filled. Salome’s wish was that each of her sons be given one of these prominent offices.

It was a similar notion of the nature of the new kingdom which had made Judas eager to get an eminent position in the new state. However, at the beginning of his association with Jesus and His disciples, this yearning to be a ranking office-holder in the nation was temporarily suppressed in favor of the ideal which charmed him so irresistibly in Jesus. The “charm” of Jesus appealed to him with such captivating force for a while that he temporarily restrained his greed for money and base love of power.

Temporarily—for when the novelty of the new association became routine, when he became acclimated to the actuality of discipleship with Jesus, he reverted to his old ambition, never absent but dormant the while, and concluded that this new kingdom might prove very profitable to him. Just think: a seat next to the new king. He was not always clearly conscious of that desire perhaps, he may not have formulated it for himself in so many words, but it, nevertheless, lingered as a dream in his heart. The semi-conscious hope persisted that the coming of the kingdom would mean the great promotion for him.

As time went on, however, that inner hope came to a tragical overt expression. As life with Jesus became more common and matter-of-fact, the secret passion of Judas began to assume a more concrete shape. Months passed, and Judas became convinced that what he wanted most was a prominent position in the new kingdom. While that ambition was gradually taking shape in the breast of Judas, Jesus, from His side, each day indicated more clearly that He was quite unsympathetic to that view of the kingdom, that He was, in fact, definitely opposed to it. Judas may have been present when Salome presented her petition, may have heard Jesus reply that a cup of passion needed to be drained first, and that, besides, the assignment of positions of honor was no part of His jurisdiction, but that of the Father. Yes, Judas may have been present then. We notice, at any rate, that what at first seemed a very slight difference between the two sons of Salome and Judas now appears to be a large one. Salome’s sons were frank, were outspoken about their ambition. That of Judas was a subjective matter. And when Jesus by His words frustrated the ambition of James and John, these gradually but consciously adapted themselves to the answer. Their love and faith prompted the adaptation. But Judas said nothing, and continued nursing the ambition in his heart. In other words, he turned his back to Jesus and sank more deeply into himself. That was his second sin: He did not surrender; he had no faith; he trusted himself.

Naturally such unbelief and greed constantly drew him more deeply into condemnation. Each day the conflict grew more clearly defined. No wonder! Jesus kept doing less and less of what Judas wanted to see accomplished. Just think: after all this time, not a single giant of the forest planted by Roman hands had been felled. Not one lance had touched Roman blood. Moreover the entire legacy of the rich sons of Zebedee had gone for provisions; not a cent had been devoted to arms and ammunition. Jesus’ program seemed bent on decentralization, for He went hither and yon, from one part of the country to the other. But of centralization, the ABC of organization. He knew nothing. In Jerusalem He had not so much as a cellar or garret with a loophole pointing toward the palace of Pilate. Now that He wanted a room for the Passover He actually had to borrow one. A characteristic way that was, too, of His “method” of doing things, a method which frowned upon any kind of secret preparation for an armed protest against Roman authority and which delegated everything into the hands of the twelve disciples.

The conflict between the ambition of Judas and the conduct of Jesus was even more sharply accentuated when Christ refused to accept the crown that was offered Him. To Judas that refusal emphatically declared that his slumbering desires did not have the slightest chance to be realized in Jesus. Would he had said so then! But he locked his longings inside himself and nursed his disappointments in secret. In the company of the highest Prophet he put the lock upon the windows of his soul and drew the shutters down. Even when Jesus asked His disciples whether they, too, now that the masses, their enthusiasm waning, had turned their backs to Jesus, would not prefer to go—even then Judas said nothing. In other words, he braced himself anew against Jesus’ instruction, against Jesus’ hunger for souls, and sank more deeply into the old self-reliance.

Crisis followed crisis. Again and again the words of Jesus gave Judas an excellent opportunity to disclose the conflict in his heart. But he as frequently refused to surrender himself to Christ. Surely, in the sight of God these three years of steeling himself against the compassion of Jesus are more than the few moments in which his fingers clutched at the traitor’s fee, and his lips allied themselves with Jesus’ enemies. Not his taking the thirty pieces from the Scribes, but his clinging to their doctrine, when he might have yielded to the other, was his transgression. This especially was his sin: He did not accept the Gospel of Christ.

As he isolated himself from Jesus, so he also became estranged from the other apostles. Remember, he was the only Judean in the group. The others were all Galileans. In this respect alone, the man from the cultural center may have felt superior to the simple fisher-folk from the back-country. Certainly his Judaistic, ultra-patriotic point of view and his rabbinical theology tempted him to think meanly of the eleven laboring men from Galilee. He must in time have despised them for their inclination to accommodate themselves to a king who had no dispatch about him and to a kingdom which had no “teeth” in it.

Such was the genesis of what is called the sinister betrayal of Judas. So Satan imposed himself upon Judas’ soul first in order to enter it later. Thus Judas, from his side, more willingly opened the doors of his soul to the satanic influence. We can therefore easily understand the reference in the Scriptures pointing us to the fact that after numerous crises in which Judas persistently shut out the light of Jesus, Satan gained the mastery of his soul.

Now we are in a position to consider the scene in the room of the Passover once more in its relationship to Jesus and to Judas.

Jesus has entered the guest room and has entered as a host. He is presiding at the supper. As He eats, He conducts the conversation, sometimes in general, sometimes by means of remarks addressed to specific persons seated next to or over-against Him. In the course of this conversation He reveals also that one of those will betray Him.

In response to that perturbing remark, all of the disciples reply: Is it I, Lord? To that query Jesus makes no general response. Later, however, when one of the guests has asked in a whisper whether He will not say who the betrayer is, Jesus replies that the disciple to whom He as a host gives the next bit of food is the one who will betray Him. (For it was the custom of the host personally to give a bit of food from the bowl to each of his guests as a token of personal friendship.)

Thereupon Jesus takes the bread and gives it to Judas.

And after the sop Satan entered into him.

That bit of bread burned Judas’ lips, just as the thirty pieces scorched his fingers later. His restless soul, fully conscious of the fact that Jesus saw everything, knew that now too Jesus was seeing quite through him. In fact, Judas had feared for some time that Jesus would publicly unmask him. However, each passing moment indicated that He would not. Even at the time when the disclosure seemed most immanent, and Jesus seemed intent upon publicly laying bare his sinister intentions, Judas had been left alone.

After that time every minute that passed in the room of the Passover was burdensome to Judas. Every minute in which Jesus made no mention of him, but let him live his own life as he chose to live it, was a torturous martyrdom. From one point of view this reticence on Jesus’ part demonstrated that His kingship, even as it extended itself to the intimate group of the disciples, disdained to use force. To Judas, however, it was a pointed and shaming revelation of grace, which, while it spared him, was inviting him to repent.

Was inviting him to repent . . . but that precisely was the essence of Judas’ sin: he did not want to live by grace. And when Jesus then, as though nothing were amiss, performed the office of host without discrimination, treating him as He treated the other eleven—then the conflict became unbearable for Judas. His rebellion against the love of Jesus reached its acme. His disgust with that pacifistic group and their doctrine of non-resistance grew beyond bounds. He remembered his contract with the chief priests, promising a stipend the equivalent of three months of work. And then “Satan entered into him.”

Satan entered into him. That significant word is one of the strongest the Bible uses to designate satanic influence. The Scriptures use several different words to indicate the several gradations of the influence of Satan as it realizes itself in man! It speaks of temptation: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. It tells of Satan’s filling the hearts of men: Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart? More serious still— the Bible mentions an indwelling of Satan. When the evil influence which has temporarily been exorcised from the habitat of the human soul later regains mastery of it, that demonic power “dwells there.” But the connotation of the phrase “entering in” is the severest of any. There is only one designation in the Bible which conceivably can suggest a stronger meaning. For that, one looks in the historical books in vain. One must turn to the Apocalypse. There, in diction unfamiliar to common experience, we read of Satan who lends the Antichrist his ability and his “horns.” “Entered in”—that is the phrase used here! And it is used here only!

The fact that the phrase “entering in” is employed in this connection does not mean so much that Judas was extraordinarily eager to let Satan in as it means that Satan never previously made so determined an attack as now. He realized that he had to exert every effort in this moment of world-crisis to preserve the soul that had almost been touched by the flames of Jesus’ love; he knew that he had to try hard to preserve it as a torch-bearer of hell, so that it might set fire to “both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel.”

Now we can understand what Christ was doing at this time. Yes, we have often and carefully scrutinized Judas Iscariot upon this occasion. But have we ever paid close attention to Jesus Christ? He proves Himself to be the Willing in obedience, the Willing to work in the house of the Father. See His hand dip in the bowl and hand it to Judas. When He does this Judas knows that the host is still treating him as a guest, still giving him His hand, still showing him the sign of affection. There is the silent question: What do you wish? He knows the Master is not ignorant of his thoughts, is not greeting the betrayer unsuspectingly. He knows that Jesus is reading his soul.

Judas must choose now. He must weep or he must curse. Or, if he can restrain the tears or the curses for a while, these at least must be born now. Which will it be, Judas? What has the proffered morsel wrought?

And after the sop Satan entered into him.

Mark that this is not the first time that the devil has influenced him. It has happened before (Luk_22:2). That former invasion, also, was called an “entering in” of Satan (Luk_22:3). But something intervenes between the first and second invasions — that something is the sop. In other words, an act of Jesus interposes itself between the antecedent and the final entering in of the devil.

Man is what he is. Judas belonged to Satan before he took the morsel. But man always tends to become more of what he is, and he becomes that after Jesus has given him to eat. The sop does something. It does not inject the poison into the blood. But it does — and that is Christ’s fullest right — cause the blood to course faster through the veins. The poison is in the blood vessels already. But the sop makes it do its work more quickly.

Have you observed that Christ fulfills His task as Mediator, now also, in relationship to Judas. As a Mediator He releases spiritual forces which are extant already. Christ sees these words written on the wall of the Passover in handwriting as startling as that which Belshazzar saw. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still. An angel responds antiphonally: He that is filthy, let him be filthy still. And the community of all the saintly dead replies: He that is righteous, let him be righteous still. He that is holy, let him be holy still. Christ, fan all the fires aflame! Fan all the fires in the smithy of the world. Force the antithesis.

Christ fans the fires. He gives the sop. It sanctifies every believing soul. Again He gives it. It proves filthy the filthy soul.

The morsel Jesus gives calls in Satan and the Spirit of sacramental grace alike.

The food that Jesus gives does something. After Satan entered Judas that first time, Judas could still bear having Jesus wash his feet. He could withstand having a holy hand touch his foot. The washing of the feet, the least intimate of contacts — Judas could bear that.

After that he is offered the bit of food. But as one who eats, too, man becomes more essentially what he is already. The sop quickens the pace of the development already in progress. The blood which flowed sluggishly before, races through the veins now. Now the holy hand that touched the feet before, touches his mouth. This is the second, the more intimate contact. Again Judas can bear it; the morsel does not scorch his mouth.

After that bit of food Satan “entered into” him. Previously he had only “put it into the heart of Judas” to betray Christ. Satan waits for the sop to take its effect, for he knows that Christ is sovereign. After the sop the sin in Judas quickly realizes itself. Judas arises. And the parcel of food is the occasion which leads to a third act, this one an act of Judas. That food is the occasion —by no means the cause — of the kiss of betrayal.

The washing of the feet; the least intimate contact; the hand touches the foot.

The sop: a more intimate touch; the hand brushes the lips.

The kiss: the most intimate contact; the lips touch the lips.

And that is the end.

It is very difficult to read these matters in the Scriptures without bursting into tears. But before we can weep about Judas and about ourselves, we must be willing to see Christ, to see Him in His majesty. We must be willing to see Him in the power of His Word and in the power of His deed. For if we have not learned to see the Christ, what good can all our weeping do? Our tears would fall to the dust futilely as did the bitter ones which Judas wept.

But we are willing to see the Christ, and are willing to see Him in majesty. For He is always doing something. His sop, His gift, and His touch are never ineffectual. His act makes an apostle or an apostate of a man. The bit of food which He gives in a moment of crisis is the transition to a first Holy Supper, or it is a catalyst, whipping years of sin into final culmination. When Jesus gives us food, whether by means of the organs of sense, or by means of the Word, the life process is quickened, whether it be good or evil.

As Judas sat at the table with Jesus, he whispered to himself: I eat what I please. Spiritually I eat what I choose. I “eat the roll” of prophecy, the prophecy of orthodox Judea. My food is to do my own will. I select my own food.

But on this day he is given something to eat. Jesus constrains Judas. Judas is compelled to eat. Jesus’ friendly but earnest gesture has all the force of an ultimatum. He does not eat what he chooses. Spiritually his food is given to him.

When he had eaten that food, Judas realized that the bread of all men is to do the will of their father. Such is the bread of all men, for all men have a father. He is God or he is Satan. He whose parent is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who does His will, has eaten His bread and will live eternally. But whoever is born of “the father, the devil” (Joh_8:44) eats the food of Satan. Such a son may say that he eats what he pleases. But when the bread of God is given to him, he so much more obstinately eats death to himself from the bread of hell. He, therefore, does not eat what he wants. He eats death to himself, not because the food of God cannot avail to counteract death, but because the food of hell is desired by all those who use it as an antidote to life. That is the food such a person chooses after he has been given the bread of life. He eats quickly. His haste is the haste of madness, a madness which clutches at what it supposes is an antidote when good food is presented to it. But the antidote, coming from Satan, proves to be poison.

The sop which Jesus gives has the same effectiveness and the same effect as the Word which God gives. That Word, also, never returns void; it achieves whatever pleases God and quickly effects the purpose for which God sent it. That Word forces choices upon men. It converts men, or it hardens them. It makes men bow, or it stiffens their necks in haughty obstinacy. Both, the sop and the Word, send out the Spirit unto repentance, or Satan unto a hardening of the heart. Take the sop; listen to the Word. Afterwards men can say of you: Then entered the Spirit into him; or they can say: Then entered Satan into him. The one or the other effect will follow.

It is profitable to make this discovery. For, when we despise Judas utterly because, perhaps, he immerses himself in sin a few inches farther than we, we are making odious comparisons and missing the truth. Not so if we have seen the Christ. Whether we be in the same room with Him in Jerusalem or, now that He dwells on high, in the same universe with Him, does not matter. For He is always present with us. He was present in the sop. He is present in the Word.

Remember, it was not the sop so much that did it. It was the force emanating from His eyes, the majesty of His glance, it was His utter compassion which made the finger He placed on Judas’ lips the conductor of the vital energy of the Word. The bit of bread, the finger—both were charged. They were charged with a force more potent than that which we now call electricity. The Spirit was present. The purpose of centuries was brought to bear upon that parcel of food. The moment of contact between the soul of Jesus and that of Judas was a moment of “discharging” of spiritual energies. Lightning broke loose. Satan felt the shock and could not rest any longer. Christ had constrained him, had made him restless to the point of death.

Christ constrained Satan, not by the sop, but by the Word which proceeds from the mouth of God. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Christ kills Judas now — for he was dead already — and He does that by the Word alone. And if it was solely by the Word that the sop quickened the invasion of spiritual forces into Judas’ soul, we do well to pay close attention. That Word is still active. It is a significant matter to get a bit of bread in the year 29 B. C.[1] But it is a more serious matter to listen to a sermon in the atmosphere of a church in the year 1929 A. D.

[1] According to many the real dale of Christ’s death; in terms of the present chronology He would then have been born in the year 4 B.C.

The pressure of the Word upon the world increases every day. The outward sign of the Passover or of the Holy Supper may remain as it was. But the presence of Christ, the power of the revealed Word, develops, grows, comes to a fuller fruition every day. Really, life is difficult after one has kissed the feet of Jesus.

Difficult as it may be, however, it is safe. Just as God conceals Himself behind the humanity of Christ, so on this occasion the majesty and power of God were concealed behind the ordinary gestures of the goodman of a house, of a host. But behind that external gesture faith discerns the omnipotent and omnipresent God. Faith finds rest in that Presence. The Holy Spirit enters in. A hand extends a bit of bread: it is the mystical union; it is the holy communion.