Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 23. Chapter 23: The Harmony Profaned: The Perfect Round Is Broken

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Christ In His Suffering, Trial, and Crucified by Klaas Schilder: Schilder, Klaas - Vol 1 - Christ In His Suffering: 23. Chapter 23: The Harmony Profaned: The Perfect Round Is Broken

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SUBJECT: 23. Chapter 23: The Harmony Profaned: The Perfect Round Is Broken

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C H A P T E R T W E N T Y - T H R E E

The Harmony Profaned: The Perfect Round Is Broken

And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.

But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?


CHRIST is ready now to receive the people. He has fought the fight with His God. The sacrifice was placed before the court of God, when none were admitted. Now that the soul of Christ has been placed on the altar of God, that offer can be publicly presented.

Men may come near now: publicly, too, Christ will make a spectacle of the authorities and powers which oppose Him, and will triumph over them. First He vanquished them in seclusion, in secret. Now follows the great public Presentation: God is seated in the heavens; the thunder-storm breaks loose. Men may come near now.

And they are coming already.

They come with staves and swords, equipped to capture finally the prophet of Nazareth. They have found someone to point out the way for them. That someone is Judas.

And Judas is one of the twelve. We know that, of course. But the evangelists took the trouble to say it in so many words once more. Their readers knew it, too, for it was written in the gospel. Nevertheless the evangelists repeat it: Judas was one of the twelve. And this particular truth is the important one in this connection. Not one of the strangers, not one of the acquaintances, but one of the twelve, one of the specially gleaned group of intimate friends, delivered Jesus up into the hands of those who carried swords and staves.

The rest of the story is well known. We will not disclose the precise sequence of events (absolute certainty about that we probably will never have), but be satisfied with the particulars about which the evangelists are perfectly clear. While en route Judas and the group had agreed upon a sign of recognition, and Judas had conducted them to the place where Jesus generally stayed. Naturally, it would be difficult for this group of soldiers, partly strangers to the district, to capture Jesus if He should not want to be taken. It might very well be that in the general confusion the Nazarene would make good His escape. It had happened before. These men could not have surmised a hint of the fact that Jesus has “an hour” in which He does not give Himself up, and “an hour” in which He does give Himself up into His captors’ hands. But the uncertainty about the chances for a successful capture are reduced to a minimum by Judas. He promises them that He, as usual, and as though nothing were amiss, will step up to Jesus and kiss Him. We know that in the Orient students were wont to greet rabbis so.

The kiss will be the sign of recognition; he will give it; they can capture Him then.

In passing, we should say that it is not correct to state, as some do, that Judas repeatedly kissed Jesus. The form of the verb employed in the original does not warrant that interpretation. We can speak of a hearty kiss but not of a repeated kiss.[1]

[1] Compare Dr. F. W. Grosheide’s commentary on Mat_26:49. The word of the Greek text used here is also used in the Septuagint; whereas the Hebrew has the simple verb to kiss.

It requires no contention to assert that Judas’ kiss hurt Jesus severely, that it burned His soul and spirit much worse than His face showed. It would have wounded Him, even if we thought Jesus none but a man having the usual responses to such stimulus.

But we can understand Christ’s suffering as evoked by Judas’ kiss correctly, only if we see Him in this connection also as a Mediator.

Jesus Himself has pointed our thoughts in this direction. His question has not the connotation of “Dost thou betray a friend with a kiss?” but denotes “Dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?” The designation Son of man has its unique position here. Taken as such this name indicates only that “Jesus was born of man, and thus was a man among men.” The expression has no Messianic content, simply refers to Him as man. But when Jesus prefixes the definite article to it and refers to Himself so often in the third person, He reveals Himself as a particular Son of man; in fact, as the one indicated in Dan_7:13 . . . . Jesus uses the name specifically when He refers to His suffering and to the qualifications that suffering implies, because these are the qualifications of the Messiah. Jesus uses the phrase in order to call the attention of the people to Dan_7:13, which He is approximating all along, in order that so, too, He may teach them that He is the Messiah.[1]

[1] Grosheide, Dr. F. W., Kommentaar op Mattheus, pp. 387 and 388.

If we keep that in mind we know that Jesus is emphatically pointing to the heart of the betrayal of Judas and to the essence of His own suffering when He speaks, in this connection, of the Son of man. We may not, in considering this event, limit ourselves to the relationship of a friend to a friend, of a teacher to a student, of a man of refinement to an uncultivated man, of the bearer of an ideal to the fanatic supporter of another ideal, of a reformer to a rebel, of a person devoted to improving the world to a chauvinist, of the preacher of a new doctrine to a representative of sectarian “orthodoxy.”

The relationship obtaining here is this one: On the one side, the Son of man; on the other, one of the twelve.

In these two terms the contrast reaches its climax; these terms alone define the contrast correctly. Those other matters have some connection with these, yes; but they do not touch on the essence.

A corollary of that definition of terms is that we have no business combing the literature of history, not even the Bible, for examples of “other” friends who were treacherously deceived and killed. One can find analogous instances, even in the Bible. These have been pointed out at length. Men have pointed to the case of Joab and Amasa, and to others. Such analogies are virtually irrelevant. Such comparisons represent a departure from the straight line, and one which is dangerous for orthodox thinking. For these comparisons are made in the manner of those who see in this event simply a relationship of friend to friend.

The matter is profounder; it concerns the Son of man in relation to one of the twelve. The office of the Messiah is relevant to it. He who holds that office is the One, who, as the Son of man, fulfills and perfects all the histories of His types in Himself. Instead, then, of looking for an “analogy” in the older and newer chronicles of friendship, we must look to this episode for the perfection and fulfillment of the conflict which has existed throughout the ages, but which expresses itself in he kiss of Judas. It is the conflict between the spiritual office of the Son of man and of the fleshly distortion of that office by those who do not believe and have not love.[1]

[1] It would be more in harmony with the Reformed interpretation of the Scriptures to allude to Ahithophel’s relation to David (though the specific particular of the kiss is no part to it) than to Joab and Amasa (even though the kiss could be included in the analogy for these).

If we think of that, we know that Christ’s suffering is terrible because He as the Son of man fell into the hands of murderers through the agency of a traitor’s kiss.

The title Son of man proclaims that His office as Mediator at no time weakened or ignored His true humanity, His being genuinely, perfectly human.

By sending Christ to earth God revealed Himself in human form. Everything divine, His divine demands, His divine Son, He expressed in a man, and that man is the Son of man. He is not a stranger, who cannot be trusted among men. He does not strut around as though He were the great Exception, making everyone automatically profane except Himself. He is not a ray of light beaming across the darkness of night simply to make the darkness more conspicuous. No, no. He is the Son of man; nothing human is alien to Him;—in fact, instead of putting it negatively, we can say that everything which is essentially human is His.

The essence of the suffering on this occasion is not that Judas, by means of his kiss, sells God as God, but God Himself in the form of the Son of man. Its terribleness inheres in the fact that Judas deceives in the very hour in which God has partly concealed His glorious being as expressed in the Son of man, but has concealed it without deception, simply to give Himself to men as one they can trust, as the Son of man.

Christ’s humanity, however, is not the only part of Him that is being insulted and profaned by Judas’ kiss.

The Son of man is an office-bearer; hence Judas also profanes His office, Until this moment the kiss of Judas is the cross for Jesus’ official life. As is the cross, so the kiss is folly and an offense in the Messianic, official life of Jesus Christ.

The sharpest point of the contrast which pained Jesus was that Judas was one of those given Him by the Father, and that Judas nevertheless betrayed Him. “Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition” (Joh_17:12).

This is the comforting way in which Jesus puts the possession of the eleven over-against the loss of that one. The Saviour, obviously, is viewing the question of the loss of that one from the human side. He is not talking about the gift of the Father from the vantage point of God’s counsel, but from that of His own appreciation of it as a man, living in time. But from this human vantage point the fact is a problem to Jesus: one of those “given” Him by the Father has been lost. He knew it all along, it is true. But Judas’ kiss seals the fact. And Christ’s suffering inheres in His awareness of this loss.

The difficult problems begin revolving in His mind again: In the mutable oscillating appearances of time, He must believe in the immutable faith and firm counsel which exists yonder in God’s eternity. He can believe in the relationship between these two but He cannot see it. Jesus prayed before He called the twelve: we have pointed that out before. And because one of these twelve who came to Him in response to this prayer is lost to Him now, that loss becomes a painful problem to Him. O, yes, we can quickly “solve” it for Him by distinguishing between a “narrow” and a “broad” sense in speaking of the Father’s giving. That is an easy solution; too easy, sometimes. We can assert that Jesus really lost none of those “given” Him in the narrower sense. We can establish a relationship between election in eternity and regeneration in time, and add: only where both of these elements are found can we speak of the Father’s giving. And of these the Son of man loses none.

We can make such distinctions. We must make them; at least we must move in that direction. Now, too, we may not be satisfied until we have considered this statement carefully. For we are not dealing with the discoveries of men, but with the revelations of God.

But our concern just now, we must remember, is the suffering soul of Christ. And He did not merely rationalize from a dogmatic and prophetic point of view what was happening before His eyes and slipping out of His hands. On the contrary, He suffered this loss, felt it acutely, experienced it, by means of His human appreciation. A part of His struggle was to throw a bridge from the passing events of the day to the Word which is eternal. Between the one and the other, between the dogmatic explanation and the personal experience we wish to fix no antithesis. But we do want to distinguish between the two. Hence it is correct to say that Jesus’ human soul suffered severely when one of those the Father had given Him proved lost.

This problem becomes particularly significant in its relevance to Christ’s office. Not only as man but also, and especially, as the Mediator of God, Christ likes harmony. He likes what is well- rounded, complete, beautiful, and harmonious.

But He must conclude by seeing fragments, by seeing piecework. Wrestling with God in prayer, in Gethsemane, He has just sensed the harmony between the distorted things of time and the straight lines of God’s eternity. Now Judas’ kiss places Him before the question how He can possibly believe in harmony, when He must leave Gethsemane, sure that the line is broken, the perfect round disturbed, that the twelve have been reduced to eleven.

We must linger a moment over that last assertion. Christ, as all will know, had twelve apostles, and exactly that number not by chance but on purpose. That specific number was designedly chosen. It reminded of the twelve tribes of Israel and also of the twelve patriarchs.[1] That the number twelve was not accidental, but necessary, to the holy order of His Messianic work becomes obvious the moment we pay attention to His Messianic consciousness. At the time of the calling of the twelve apostles the clear and self-assured consciousness of the Messiah is very certain that He is the Father of Young Israel, just as Father Jacob and his twelve sons, the twelve patriarchs, is the father of Old Israel, the Israel of the flesh. When Jesus chooses twelve, Christ, that is, the Messiah, as is His privilege, tears another life out of Israel’s life, and emancipates it. He gathers around Him, He bears out of the womb of His will, a new Israel, Young-Israel, the Israel of the Spirit, whose appeal is not external, whose beauty resides within. He does not derive His strength from a fleshly ancestry of the twelve patriarchs, but from a spiritual building based upon the foundation of the twelve apostles. So Jesus sets the twelve patriarchs who are the beginning of the Israelite dispensation of the covenant of grace over against the twelve apostles as the beginning of the dispensation of the covenant of grace for the New Testament. The calling of the twelve was a reference backwards to the generations of father Jacob. It represented a quake in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus Christ, in virtue of the qualifications given Him, and full of Messianic consciousness, chose twelve apostles, as a foundation — the “foundation”, you remember, “of apostles and prophets”—on which to build the whole communion of the New Covenant. Yes, Jesus referred to Jacob, to Israel, and to his twelve fleshly sons, in order to set Himself over against him as one who has gained twelve spiritual name-bearers. But he also looks ahead to the throne of the Almighty, saying: Father, I will; I will, Father. My strong will is placing the twelve thrones of the New Testament next to those others around Thy throne, those of the Old Testament. I will. Father; I will. My Messianic will would now place next to the twelve tribes of Israel the twelve times twelve thousand, the hundred forty and four thousand sealed saints of the New Testament (Revelation 14). The twelve patriarchs have their names written in the foundations of the city of father Jacob, and on the earthly house of Zion. And I, as the Father of the new Israel, would write the names of My twelve apostles in the foundations of the new Jerusalem.

[1] Grosheide, op, cit., p. 122.

Indeed, the choosing of the twelve was the forceful deed of the Messiah, the deed of jurisdiction and of strong faith.

Yes, it was an act of strong faith also. These twelve represented a repetition, but also an expansion. The Old Testament had its twelve patriarchs; Jesus has His twelve apostles. That is repetition.

But there is an imperialistic tendency, an eagerness for expansion in Jesus’ twelve. Twelve? That is three times four. Three is the number of God; four is the number of the world. By means of His twelve Christ hopes to bring God into relationship with the world.[2] He wants to penetrate the world. By the apostleship of those twelve He, through Himself, will gain the world for God.

[2] Grosheide, op. cit., p. 122.

That was strong faith, was it not? In this the Messiah puts over against the desire for expansion of the fleshly kingdom that of the spiritual kingdom. Old Israel, too, was eager to dominate the world: it still wishes to do so. But, from His side, Christ puts over against that the mission, the world-mission of His kingdom. He does that by appointing the twelve.

His whole soul, all of His strong spirit was attached to those twelve, also to their number. His pretention as Messiah must rise or fall with those twelve, and with their number, twelve. A strong, a firm, a conscious usurping of His will is manifested in the choosing of those twelve. His will is a thousand times stronger than that of Israel’s father, the father of the twelve patriarchs. Twelve sons were born to him, but he obtained these sometimes by illegitimate means. Moreover, it was not really his will, but God’s from whom they were born. And he himself did not fully appreciate what these twelve would mean in the world. But when Christ comes, He bears these twelve Himself, out of His own will. He draws them to Him. He takes them. He constrains them in a moment. The choosing of these twelve, therefore, was one of the brilliant apices of His Messianic task. He cannot spare those twelve; He needs them. His office, His kingdom, His prophecy, His filling of the Old by the New Testament must rise or fall with the preservation of His beautiful, symbolical, and therefore also His necessarily unalterable twelve.

Those who think such symbolism is arbitrary, or that it has no relationship to the pain Jesus feels, now that the number has been broken, should read again the genealogy of Jesus Christ as it is recorded in Matthew 1.

There, too, and before the Messiah appears in the world, a series of names (by no means all) are selected from the generations of the Old Testament and are so arranged that the symbolism of the numbers is put into the service of prophecy, which, as we know, illuminates the whole of history in its own peculiar way. The names are selected and the numbers drawn up in such a way that the writer of the chapter on that basis prophesies about the history of the Old Testament, out of which Jesus has legally descended.

He distinguishes between three epochs of time: from Abraham to David; from David to the captivity; from the captivity to the birth of Christ. Each of these epochs comprises fourteen generations. Three times fourteen, therefore, is the number which symbolizes the history from Abraham to Christ.

Those fourteen, of course, suggest at once the number seven, which is half of fourteen. And seven is the holy number, the number representing completeness and representing also the communion between God and the world. Over-against twelve as the product of three and four is placed the number seven as the sum of three and four. In Israel, therefore, God and the world are united. The seven represent God (three) and the world (four). Hence the law of Immanuel can be found in Israel, for Immanuel means: God with us; three plus four. In this is contained prophecy: the history of Israel issues in Jesus Christ as the true Immanuel, for He is the crown of Israel in His person and His work. He is the fulfillment and the interpretation of the number-symbolism of the perfect harmony which is the mystery of God’s kingdom.

But the first chapter of Matthew goes farther than that.

In each epoch of Israel’s history the number seven returns twice. Each period has two times seven generations. The law of Immanuel, consequently, appears in its completeness (twice).

This again issues in and tapers into a point in Jesus Christ. He is harmony in its extreme perfection.

Even that does not exhaust the number-symbolism. We are told of three times fourteen generations. That means six times seven generations. When six groups of seven have gone by, therefore, the seventh group of seven will come. That will come in the person of Jesus Christ. Just as in Israel after six units of time the seventh unit arrived as a Sabbath-period, so the Sabbath-rest perfectly begins with the New Covenant. And just as the seventh group of seven years arrives after six groups of seven have passed, to usher in the year of jubilee, of the emancipation of slaves, of the blessing of the poor, of the enriching of the miserable, so Christ’s coming into the world will represent an enrichment of the poor, for these will be given goods. That year, too, will emancipate the slaves, and will bless the exploited and down-trodden.

See how informed these matters are with a number-symbolism which Jesus points to as the first rule of action and source of rest.

These truths are reinforced by the thought that the sequence of names in the first chapter of Matthew (three times fourteen), besides representing a number-symbolism, is also a way of naming. In the Hebrew language letters of the alphabet can also be read as numbers. And if you read the letters in the name of King David in terms of their corresponding figures, the result, the sum, is fourteen. Hence fourteen means David. And three times fourteen generations, then, means three times the glory of David.

The first epoch, from Abraham to David, represents David’s rising. The second epoch, from the kings of the house of David to the captivity, represents the period of his flourishing. The third epoch, then, extending from the captivity to Christ, represents David as the stem of Jesse.

Then as the crown of all will come the Christ, who is the rod out of the stem of Jesse, David’s fulfillment, bringing peace to the house of David, and manifesting the beauty of His glorious being there.

Such thinking is not the product of illegitimate allegorizing, or of a false juggling of figures. The scientific researches of believers of the Scripture[1] confirm the fact that these are the implications of the grouping of names and their being limited to the chosen number in the first chapter of Matthew.[2]

[1] In particular Dr. F. W. Grosheide (Kommentaar op Mattheus) who, for the most part, also adheres to this interpretation of the number-symbolism.

[2] The chapter must not be regarded as an exhaustive citation of fathers and forefathers. It is not designed to be that. Above it we read: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ. This chapter is the Genesis of the New Testament. It reveals the spiritual laws of God’s harmony as the prophetic spirit discovers them in the history of the generation of Jesus Christ.

It is certain, then, that even before His birth, Christ was announced in the world as the one in whom the laws of the kingdom of Heaven will find rest. Especially if we remember that the number-symbolism of the genealogies recorded in Matthew is not arbitrary but prophetic, do we know that Christ Himself, when He comes to interpret His family-record by means of His official work, does not act arbitrarily but purposely when He chooses His twelve. When, at the beginning of His Messianic work, He appointed those twelve, He proved that He understood the meaning of the book of His generation Himself; and by the same token He proved that He was the true giver of peace, of rest; as Immanuel He was appearing to give Israel its real sabbath-rest.

Now recall the kiss which Judas gives. Surely, you feel the brutal pain which it inflicts. And the enigma presents itself: But this breaks the perfect round of twelve. This interferes with the harmony. Judas’ kiss goes cutting its way through the spheres; a laugh of derision echoes somewhere in God’s universe, a laugh so loud that things quake because of it; the laugh is in derision of the number-symbolism of the whole Bible and also of that of Jesus Christ Himself. Judas simply draws a line through Jesus’ precious number-harmony; this he does for murderers and sword-bearers, and in the presence of the devils. He reduces the twelve to eleven. The number of completeness becomes a foolish number which seems to sing the praise of folly.

Jesus must die now looking upon that fragmentary number, upon that “stem.”[3]

[3] Compare “The Stem of Jesse” of Isa_11:1.

The number eleven danced up and down before His eyes when, at Golgotha, it was dark for three hours. Eleven—eleven—broken harmony! Is this David? The David of Matthew 1? Has not the stem out of Jesse been broken again? He who yearned for a holy and round number, and expressed His Messiah-spirit in it, He is stumbling over Judas, is He not? The whole Old Testament is stumbling over him. The whole of Christian preaching is. This, is this not an offense, a stumbling block to Jesus’ Messianic consciousness? Eleven — only eleven — the perfect round is broken!

Truly, this is to suffer. How this wounds me, Father above, Father of round numbers! Jesus’ suffering is as severe as Abraham’s was when he was called upon to sever a harmony finally discovered, with the stroke of a knife. Jesus’ suffering is worse. It is the “stem”. It represents failure; to all appearances, it represents failure. The year of jubilee is called into question by Judas’ kiss. The whole doctrine of revelation and the whole body of Christology is very closely related to that traitor’s kiss. And, as it seems, Christ has not only failed as King, as the great David (three times fourteen) but also as Priest. Aaron, at least, may carry his breastplate with its twelve precious stones, undefiled, into his grave. But when Christ dies, one of those twelve stones, which the Father has given Him, is lacking.

O yes, the kiss of Judas is something more than a sinister act of treachery committed by one friend against another.

In order to say that, we need not agree with the foolish self- assurance of that so-called religious-historical school which sees revealed in the twelve apostles a kind of symbolical expression of the idea of the pattern and of the holy, cosmical order in the laws which can be read from the stars. Members of this school have asserted that the choice of twelve was owing to the fact that the light of the world distributed its domain among so many lords; and these members, naturally, have not failed to identify the twelve apostles with the twelve signs of the zodiac, all surrounding Christ, as the light of the world. As eager as we are to stay far away from these untenable and unwarranted speculations, so eager are we to cling to the prophetic purpose of the number-symbolism in the Bible itself, also as it applies to the twelve apostles.

This last consideration makes the problem more difficult for us. The religious-historical school which we named just now, believes that only gradually, decades later, these symbolical explanations occurred to the Christians, by way of giving expression to the thoughts outlined above.

These, then, care very little whether the historical Judas did, or did not leave the circle of twelve. For—so the argument goes— that requisite twelfth individual was restored to the group, anyway, in the person of Matthias, or in the person of Paul. What matter if Christ Himself lived before these people? For “Christendom” as a composite of pagan and Hebrew elements drew all these mythologies within the pale of its holy books in its own peculiar way, fancying it so that the astral idea—signs of the zodiac—was embodied in twelve fishermen, who became apostles. And to these interpreters Judas’ falling out of the circle of twelve, and Jesus’ having to die with His eyes fixed upon broken number, are not catastrophes.

To those of us, however, who believe the Scriptures, and believe them in their historical records, too, both these matters are very serious. The moment we look upon Judas in the light of Christ, and upon Judas’ falling out of the circle in the light of the deliberate, symbolically prophetic choice of twelve by Jesus, the kiss of Judas becomes a tantalizing enigma. We know that Jesus has actually lived. The notion of twelve apostles was not a product of the pagan-Jewish fancy of the first Christians, but existed in Jesus’ own soul and spirit. The notion of the harmony of the twelve did not arise in the mind of the Church after Jesus’ death, but was present in His soul at the beginning of the fulfillment of his Messianic task. The calling of the twelve and the completion of the number twelve, does not begin after the Pentecost; the official appointment of the twelve disciples to the office of apostleship is described in Mat_10:1.[1]

[1] Grosheide, Kommentaar op Mattheus, pp. 121-122.

The plain fact is, then, that Christ must die with His eyes fixed upon a profaned harmony; and that fact enhances our sense of the suffering which Judas’ kiss caused.

Behold how severely God tries His Son.

See how Satan tempts Him.

He began with twelve; may He end with as many? He felt Himself to be the Messiah; can He sustain His pretenses? The kiss of Judas, the broken round, is as painful and as enigmatic to Jesus’ spirit, and to ours, as is the nail driven into, or the crown of thorns impressed upon, His flesh. He must assume the full burden of the law of the “stem of Jesse.” In its external splendor, the house of David passes into decay. The result, the effect, of Christ’s work, externally considered—that, too, passes into decay. Not only the Christ Himself in His human nature, but also the work of Christ as symbolized in the twelve is being profaned this night. This Mediator has no compensation to glory in, saying: “True, I shall be destroyed, but they can at least see My work!” For if His work and His personal glory are defiled, then He has not even these to compensate for His death.

This is an acute trial for Jesus. Now He will have to manifest whether or not He believes in God. There is only one avenue He can take now, the avenue of Abraham, the father of all believers. For, when Abraham must slay his own son, when he must cut his own tree down to a “stem,” he derives his comfort from God, knowing that God is able to call life into being even out of death.

God puts the same question to His Son, now, when He lets Judas kiss Jesus. God profanes His harmony, disturbs His nicely rounded number, throws His precious mosaic into a heap of ruins. How that kiss bums! But it is God’s voice which is asking: Dost Thou believe now, Thou Son of man, that God is able to call Thee into life from the dead? Dost Thou believe that Thou shalt have a future, that although it is necessary for Thee to see Thy twelve profaned now in Thy death, the twelve thrones of the New Testament shall remain standing over against those of the Old, shall ever remain, surrounding the one throne of God and of the Lamb? Hast Thou faith in God, O man!

Yes, Father, He believed in Thee. The great David of the New Covenant has faith. The Head and Mediator of the covenant of grace has faith. He holds out His hands to be bound: He lets Himself be conducted into death before He can restore completeness to His twelve, and believes, and comes to prove to us, that His cross is not a pause in His task. The cross will be followed by the resurrection, by ascension, and by Pentecost. Christ Himself will return to the earth in the Spirit of Pentecost. Then, by the designation of His own Spirit, He will restore completeness to His twelve, and will present it, perfect, to God and the world.

Christ can die with His eyes fixed upon a torso because He knows that His perfect harmony will in its own time complete its expert sculpturing.

Because of this faith which Christ has, He is not an offense or a stumbling block to us, but the power and wisdom of God. Only such faith can defeat the kiss of Judas in this oppressed world.

Faith teaches us to see Christ as a greater than Aaron, although, a while ago, He seemed a lesser one. It is true that Aaron can transfer his breastplate, studded with the twelve stones, to his son, but he cannot in his own strength preserve one of these stones. But Christ’s death made a distinction between false stones and true; Christ, by passing through His death completely rounded out the true stones till they were twelve—and these He laid upon God’s heart.

Faith teaches us that Christ is not an unsuccessful King, a rod, which, arising from the Stem of Jesse, like that stem is a failure. On the contrary it teaches us to see Christ as one who by enduring Judas’ kiss can in His own strength overcome the offense of it. Now He will go to prove that His work cannot be completed in the cross, but must be perfected in the resurrection and glorification, and that it will return in the person of the Spirit.

All men will be judged by the kiss of Judas, not because of Judas’ lips but because of Jesus Christ. The whole question of faith and unbelief lies between those lips and Jesus’ face. In this matter people irrevocably go opposite ways.

Only one conclusion is possible.

Say that Christ’s Kingdom is of this world; that His choice of the twelve was not an act of Messianic power but of excessive imagination; that His death ends the matter; and that Christendom does not live by virtue of an historical Jesus, who was put to death in full sight of a broken round of twelve, but who arose to restore it to its perfection.

Then Judas is indeed a man who is tainted with the traitor’s infection, but that is all. He is nothing worse than that. Then Jesus was “unfortunate” in His friendship and an “unsuccessful” prophet. But then the kiss of Judas is not an act of betrayal over against the other world, the world of God, the world of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Then we can call Judas’ kiss unpalatable, unaesthetic, and repulsive, but we must admit that essentially he was right. A Jesus, who calls Himself the Messiah, must rise or fall with His twelve, the number of Messianic perfection; and He who cannot preserve His twelve really deserves the kiss of Judas. That is putting it bluntly, but why mince words in the Kingdom of Truth, in the night of darkness? If everything depends on the twelve of His Messianic awareness, everything depends on a kiss of Judas. If Jesus is not the Messiah, Judas is as great as He. Then Judas is just another of Satan’s moves (really of Mephisto’s) on the chessboard of history—a move in response to the unfortunate one God made in Jesus. Then Judas has pricked the balloon of the Nazarene’s phantasy—and kept us from deceiving ourselves.

But in the other case; that is, in the only case?

Jesus truly is the Christ. Christ had to die with His face fixed upon a profaned harmony, for that was the law of His kingdom. His kingdom has no external appeal. He endures the disgrace of His broken body and of His broken harmony. Such is the law of the cross, and it is binding throughout.

Thus only is the way to the resurrection and glorification prepared. This only can make room for the Kingdom of Heaven, and for the possibility of breaking through to victory.

Precisely by dying, and by reigning in death, Jesus established that better kingdom in which the external calling finds the internal one and retains it as its being. In that realm election is made the basis of calling in time, and the internal calling of man by the regenerating Spirit is achieved by Christ Himself as a gift of grace. It becomes the great gift of grace which gives a durable being to the calling of His church, unified and gathered in harmony as it is. Not only by His work upon earth, but by all of His work He has achieved the right to establish a relationship, by means of the Spirit, between the election of God’s good pleasure, on the one hand, and the gathering of His hundred forty and four thousand, on the other hand.

Presently the achievement of the Spirit will by His death be accomplished, and Christ will be Lord of God’s Spirit also. Then that Kingdom will arrive in which the Kiss of Judas is basically impossible simply because in that realm those who have been called internally cannot fall from grace. Then—when the harmony of the spiritual Kingdom of regeneration and of internal calling has come to be, then it will be impossible, within the pale of true faith, to betray Jesus. That Kingdom will gather together a community of genuine believers who can kiss the Son in obedience and in faith only. Whoever lives by virtue of the Spirit of Christ cannot in all eternity betray Him.

One must take the problem of the kiss of Judas to Dordrecht.[1] For, from the viewpoint of Christ’s resurrection the doctrine of the perseverance of the elected saints gives an answer to the question of the profaned number of twelve in Jesus’ death.

[1] The great synod of Dordrecht, a city in the Netherlands, where in 1618-19 the famous Five Canons or Heads of Calvinistic doctrine were formulated in opposition to five points held by the Arminians. (H. Beets.)

But—and this is even more important—the problem of the kiss of Judas must be solved at the gate of that other city which is called the New Jerusalem. There one can find the number of those gathered and called of God. And that number is not a fragmentary or defective total, but is perfectly whole. The Revelation of John is the eloquent peroration to the dull gospel of the offense of Judas’ kiss and of the broken round of twelve. Listen to the sounds: 12,000 furlongs, 12 gates, 12 pearls, the 12 names of as many apostles in the foundations of the gates of the city, 2 times 12 thrones surrounding the one throne, 2 times 12 elders, 12 times 12 cubits, 12 times 12,000 saints. Christ Jesus is here and His twelve are here, and from all sides these praise Him with their heavenly hymns of praise for His unprofaned harmony. “Father,” He says, “now of those whom Thou hast given Me from eternity, in the communion of the Holy Spirit, I have lost none. Among those really given Me there is not one child of perdition.”

Thus Jesus died. His hands were bound; His work lay in fragments. Clubs swung in the air. His cheeks burned.

But in the distance His eye saw a new Jerusalem having twelve gates. His holy longing, His strong faith, seared twelve names upon them. This Christ who is bound is the glorious One. As a matter of fact, nothing has been profaned; He Himself drove Judas out.

We must not forget that behind Judas’ kiss lies Jesus’ statement, that impelling statement made in the room of the Passover: What thou doest, do quickly. If that word of Jesus serves to prune Judas as a dead branch from the tree which Jesus planted, that tree has not been hurt. That tree, on the contrary, is saved from decay by just such action; now it can stand, and flourish, ever flourish.

Anyone who wants to see Jesus in this faith can shape only one prayer upon leaving Gethsemane: that he himself may belong to the perfect number, 144,000, and to the congregation which manifests the number twelve, twelve times; that Isaiah , 12 times 12 in all the multiple forms (1,000) of our abundance of life and of our breath-taking, glorious mutiplicity.

Such a person does not dare to refuse conversion. From his personal point of view—not from God’s, such refusal is as culpable as Judas’ kiss, and is an effort to destroy the harmony not of the twelve, but of the 12 times 12,000. If he refuses, he must suffer condemnation.

For Christ was not kissed by Judas in vain.