549THE LAST SUPPER AND THE BETRAYAL
549THE PRIESTLY CONSPIRATORS AND THE TRAITOR
549As the time for the annual Feast of the Passover approached, and particularly during the two
days immediately preceding the beginning of the festival, the chief priests, scribes, and elders of
the people, in short the Sanhedrin and the entire priestly party, conspired persistently together as
to the best manner of taking Jesus into custody and putting Him to death. At one of these
gatherings of evil counsel, which was held at the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas,
decided that Jesus should be taken by subtlety if possible, as the probable effect of an open arrest
would be an uprising of the people. The rulers feared especially an outbreak by the Galileans,
who had a provincial pride in the prominence of Jesus as one of their countrymen, and many of
whom were then in Jerusalem. It was further concluded and for the same reasons, that the Jewish
custom of making impressive examples of notable offenders by executing public punishment
upon them at times of great general assemblages, be set aside in the case of Jesus; therefore the
conspirators said: "Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people."
548On earlier occasions they had made futile attempts to get Jesus into their hands;
were naturally dubious as to the outcome of their later machinations. At this juncture they were
encouraged and gladdened in their wicked plots by the appearance of an unexpected ally. Judas
Iscariot, one of the Twelve, sought an audience with these rulers of the Jews, and infamously
offered to betray his Lord into their hands.
Under the impulse of diabolic avarice, which,
however, was probably but a secondary element in the real cause of his perfidious treachery, he
bargained to sell his Master for money, and chaffered with the priestly purchasers over the price
of the Savior's blood. "What will ye give me?" he asked; "and they covenanted with him for
thirty pieces of silver."
This amount, approximately seventeen dollars in our money, but of
many times greater purchasing power with the Jews in that day than now with us, was the price
fixed by the law as that of a slave; it was also the foreseen sum of the blood-money to be paid for
the Lord's betrayal.
That the silver was actually paid to Judas, either at this first interview or at
some later meeting between the traitor and the priests, is demonstrated by after events.
548He had pledged himself to the blackest deed of treachery of which man is capable, and from
that hour he sought the opportunity of superseding his infamous promise by its more villainous
fulfilment. We are yet to be afflicted by other glimpses of the evil-hearted Iscariot in the course
of this dread chronicle of tragedy and perdition; for the present let it be said that before Judas
sold Christ to the Jews, he had sold himself to the devil; he had become Satan's serf, and did his
549THE LAST SUPPER