Is Jesus instructing Judas to have him arrested?Jesus instructed this to Judas after he pointed out to his disciples that it was Judas who would have him arrested.
This statement by Jesus clearly indicates two things:
1) That Jesus knew what Judas was about to do.
2) That Jesus authorized Judas to do this.
So let's get off our high horse about how evil Judas was for supposedly "betraying" Jesus. If he was "betraying" Jesus then Jesus would not have instructed Judas to "do quickly" what he was to do, would he?
Just consider what a person would say to another who was about to do something that they didn't authorize or want to happen. They might say something like: "Can you not do this please?" Or they might say: "Please do not do this."
But Jesus didn't say either. He told Judas to do it, and do it quickly.
This indicates that Jesus not only knew what Judas was going to do, but he authorized it.
Why did Judas leave so quickly?Judas sat with Jesus during his last supper. Why did he leave so quickly?
Judas left quickly because he was following Jesus' instruction, to do it "quickly." And because Judas followed Jesus' instruction by leaving immediately, we can know that Judas was following his teacher's instructions:
As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (John 13:30)And we know that not only did Jesus authorize this, but it was intended to glorify God:
When he was gone, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of man glorified and God is glorified in him." (John 13:31)This indicates that Jesus sees what Judas was about to do as not only something he has authorized but something done in the service of his teacher, in order go glorify God.
Was Judas surprised at being chosen?In Matthew, we can see that Jesus is selecting Judas, and Judas is surprised and disappointed that he has been selected to do this. After Jesus pointed out it was Judas, Judas said:
"Surely not I, Rabbi?" Jesus answered, "Yes, it is you." (Matt. 26:25)Many interpreters have stated that this indicates that Judas was lying to Jesus, and trying not to disclose to him what he was planning. Others have suggested that Judas didn't know because satan was doing it and just using Judas.
This has been interpreted from the text: As soon as Judas took the bread, satan entered into him. (John 13:27) This interpretation, however, is contradictory, because Jesus is clearly telling Judas to do it and do it "quickly." So who is telling Judas to do it, satan or Jesus?
But when we understand that Jesus indeed authorized Judas to make a deal with the institutional temple priests and have him taken into custody, and we see Judas' response from Matthew, we can understand that this is a statement by a person who is surprised at being selected to do this.
We can also understand the context of "satan's" involvement if we understand the meaning of "satan." "Satan" is not some conniving challenger of God. God has no challenger. He controls everything.
God does, however, allow for His children to become selfish if they choose to be - as love requires freedom. "Satan" is the illusory energy of desires borne of self-centeredness, and the consequences that follow. These desires can "enter" us at any moment.
But it is not as if we are the innocent victims. Anytime we seek some selfish gain to be had from something, the illusory nature of desire can be said to be "entering" us, and we must therefore wrestle with those desires, and the consequences that follow them should we follow those desires. "Satan" is an element of the illusory nature of the physical world - which is part of God's creation intended to give us a false perception of ourselves that reflects our desires.
The element of "satan" here is Judas' realization that he might personally gain from Jesus' instruction to have him arrested - i.e., receive some ransom money.
This decision to accept the ransom money - 30 pieces of silver - was a self-centered decision that Judas was allowed to make for himself. God provides each of us the free will to love and serve Him to the degree we are willing to. He also allows us to try to gain from that service - which Judas did.
But we cannot stray from the fact that Jesus wanted this to happen right away. Jesus statement, "do quickly" also indicates that Jesus wanted it to happen immediately - that night.
Why is the timing so important?We know that it was Passover, and many people were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
We also know that Judas did not turn Jesus over to the Romans. Rather, the arrangement that Judas made to have Jesus captured was with the Temple High Priest. He did not make an arrangement with Pontius Pilate or the Romans. In other words, while Jesus may have known the eventual outcome of the arrangement, this was not necessarily known by Judas.
Arranging to have Jesus taken into custody by the Temple High Priest should not be assumed to be the cause for knowing Jesus would be crucified. The Jewish religious institution has historically not crucified people. The Romans were known to crucify people - typically hanging them to a tree, not necessarily a cross.
Consider the fact that Judas was one of Jesus' twelve closest disciples. Why would Jesus keep a disciple he knows is planning to have him murdered?
Indeed, a lost text has surfaced within the last couple of decades called the Gospel of Judas. This text has been carbon-dated to have been written around the time that the other four Gospels were written, and there are other indications that it was an early text because it was cited by a 2nd Century Christian writer.
This ancient text confirms the Gospels that indeed Judas had been a close and obedient disciple of Jesus - indicated by him being one of the twelve - and he was instructed by Jesus to have him arrested by the institutional temple priests. Was money part of the equation? According to the four Gospels, it was - as Judas had been paid for turning in Jesus. This is the element of self-centeredness that Judas portrayed. Because prior to this, Judas became aware that he would be paid handsomely for turning in Jesus.
Did Judas realize what would happen?Judas was not aware that Jesus would be handed over to the Romans and persecuted after being put on trial. According to all four Gospels, when Judas discovered this, he immediately returned the ransom money and hanged himself in front of the high priest's family tomb. This, according to the custom of the time, desecrated the high priest's tomb.
Now if Judas knew that having Jesus arrested would result in him being tried and crucified, why was he so depressed? Why did he commit suicide?
We can also see from Matthew that Judas' arrangement was only meant to have Jesus taken into the chief priests' custody. He had no intent to have Jesus executed:
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." (Matt. 27:1-4)So we see that Judas made an arrangement with the institutional temple priests to have Jesus taken by the temple priests. It was the institutional temple priests who decided to hand Jesus over to be executed by the Romans, not Judas. Judas responded with outrage when he heard this decision by the priests to hand Jesus over to the Romans.
In Matthew, we can see that Judas' "remorse" (from the Greek word μεταμέλομαι (metamelomai) which means to repent or regret) only came "when" he "saw that Jesus was condemned." "When" indicates a relationship between Judas' reaction and his realization that the arrest was going to lead to the death of his teacher's physical body. This indicates that Judas initially did not know this.
Why has Judas been accused of planning Jesus' arrest?Much of the interpretation that Judas planned for Jesus' ultimate execution comes from highly inflammatory translations made by institutional scribes who interpreted and translated the texts. We also know that there were at least seven early scribes who edited the original Gospel of John before it became part of the Cannon. This preceded its selection for inclusion into the Bible by Bishops authorized by the Roman government as part of the early Roman Catholic Church.
Is it a coincidence that the same government that took part in the execution of Jesus also oversaw the process of inclusion of Gospels into the early Latin Bible? Is it a coincidence that the weight of responsibility is being put upon one of Jesus' students rather than the Roman government and the institutional temple officials for the persecution of Jesus?
For example, the use of the words "betray" and "betrayer" used throughout the texts to refer to Judas, actually comes from the Greek word παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi). This means, according to the lexicon, "to give into the hands (of another)" or to "have arrested."
Yet the word itself does not indicate anything about "betrayal."
The very same Greek word was also used by Jesus in this verse:
"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'" (Matt. 25:22)Here the word "entrusted" is also translated from παραδίδωμι (paradidōmi). There are other verses where this Greek word is used similarly.
While the word can also be used to describe someone who hands someone over "treacherously," such "treachery" must be otherwise indicated. The word itself does not indicate "treachery."
In other words, such a handing over could be done "treacherously" or with permission ("entrustingly"). As such, the translators have assumed this by translating the word to "betray."
This all points to a few key issues. The fact that Jesus himself was involved in the arrangement of his capture by the institutional temple priests is clear. The fact that Judas was following Jesus' instructions is also clear.
Judas' big mistake - which was why his reputation of betrayal has remained - was that he took 30 pieces of silver in exchange for telling the high priest where Jesus would be. This would be considered betrayal unless Jesus also authorized this.
Even with that, the point is that Jesus allowed this to happen to him because he was serving God. He knew that the Supreme Being was ultimately giving everyone the choice to love Him and thus follow Jesus, or not. If God somehow intervened and forced everyone to support Jesus, then this would abandon the element of free will when it comes to loving God or not. Taking that free will away would contradict and remove the possibility of love - which has to be given voluntarily.
Jesus knew that this freedom of choice is what the Supreme Being willed:
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." (Matt. 26:42)He also knew Jesus' sacrifice would serve to teach others, and glorify Jesus' beloved, the Supreme Being:
"Now is the son of man glorified and God is glorified in him." (John 13:31).So we know that Jesus was providing loving service to God, ultimately, by doing what would glorify Him. But God's role was to allow Jesus the free will to provide this service. Jesus didn't have to. And neither would God have arranged for the crucifixion or stopped it. He simply wanted everyone to decide independently whether to love Him or not.
As for Jesus, God's loving servant is focused on glorifying the Supreme Being. Why? Because he loves God. Someone who loves someone naturally praises that person and works to please them. This was communicated by Jesus both by this event and by his teachings:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)