Series: The Suffering Savior: Meditations on the Last Days of Christ by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868)
[learn_more caption=”Introduction and Preface”] CMC Editor’s Note: In the following preface are the words of F.W. Krummacher introducing his readers to his work. It is our intention to post all fifty three of his meditations. Krummacher is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest preachers and was often compared to Great Britain’s C.H. Spurgeon. The reader will learn much of Christ through this series of devotional meditations on the final scenes in the life of Christ on earth. The printed work (first published 1854) has been described as the greatest single volume of the entire nineteenth century on the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. The meditations are structured around the Old Testament tabernacle. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings.
In the following meditations I trust I have succeeded in displaying to my readers at least a portion of those riches which are contained in the inexhaustible treasury of our Savior’s sufferings. Unmutilated scriptural truth, such as I believe I promulgate, still finds a favorable reception in the world, which I have been permitted to experience in the most gratifying manner. I mention it, solely to the praise of God, and for the satisfaction of those who are like-minded, that my writings, or at least a part of them, are, as I hear, already translated into English, French, Dutch, Swedish, and as I am assured, though I cannot vouch for the fact, into the Danish language also. My “Elijah the Tishbite” has even appeared in a Chinese attire. But that which is of greater importance, is the news I am constantly receiving of the manifold blessing which the Lord of his great and unmerited favor has bestowed upon my labors. That in his condescension and loving-kindness, He would also deign to bless this my most recent work is so much the more my heartfelt wish and ardent prayer, since it has for its subject the chief supporting pillar of the whole church—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The division of the work into the “Outer Court,” the “Holy Place,” and the “Most Holy Place,” is intended merely to point out the different stages of the Redeemer’s sufferings, from their commencement to their close, but by no means to attach a less or greater importance to them. Had the latter been the case, I would naturally have assigned the institution of the Lord’s Supper its appropriate place in the “Most Holy Place,” instead of the “Outer Court.” But in the plan of this volume, it falls among the class of events, which immediately precede the propitiatory work of the Mediator.
~ F. W. Krummacher [/learn_more]
THE HOLY PLACE
Meditation – XIII
The Traitor’s Kiss
“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”
We direct our eyes, once more, to the armed multitude…
who had reached the Garden of Gethsemane in quest of Jesus.
They have just risen up from the ground on which they had been thrown by the power of the Lord’s word, “I am He!” Among those who had been thus hurled to the dust was Judas. It might have been supposed that this renewed manifestation of the majesty of Jesus would have finally scared the son of perdition, like some fiery sign or signal of danger, from his traitorous path. And who knows what effect servile fear might have produced, if he had not been surrounded by witnesses, and if his imaginary honor had not been at stake! But he had undertaken to act the part of a leader; and what a coward would he have appeared in the eyes of his patrons and superiors had he not resolutely performed his promise! How horrible the delusion, to make a virtue of consistency, even in wickedness! Judas fanned the flame of his hostility to the Lord, which might have received a momentary check, by recalling to mind the anointing in Bethany, and the last supper in Jerusalem. Suffice it to say, he again stands before us at the head of the murderous band, with a carriage certainly more forced than real. His bearing indicates a hypocritical resolution; but something very different is expressed in his averted looks and convulsively contracted lips, as well as in the restless working of the muscles of his pallid countenance. But he has pledged his word and concluded his contract with Satan. The traitorous signal must follow. Hell reckons on him, and would not for the world lose the triumph of seeing the Nazarene betrayed into its hands by one of his own disciples.
We may have read and heard a thousand times of this horrible fact, and yet as often as it is repeated, we are astonished afresh, as if we had never heard it before. Can there be a more appalling or deeply affecting scene than this treacherous betrayal of his Master? Where did ever personified goodness and consummate wickedness, heaven and hell, meet in more open and awful contrast? Scarcely can we support the overpowering impressions, which we here receive, of the superabundance of divine love and meekness on the one hand, and the fullness of Satanic wickedness on the other! We are witnesses of a parting scene—one of the most melancholy and mysterious the world has ever beheld—Jesus and his disciple Judas, separated forever.
Before we view, in the traitor’s kiss, the mature infernal fruit of his inward corruptions, let us cast a look at the prophecies respecting him and his course of life. In Psalm 41 we read, “Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” In Psalm 109, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him; as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing like as with a garment, so let it come into his affections like water, and like oil into his bones.” And in Psalm 69, “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no one dwell in his tents.” But that these and other appalling passages had reference to him, his parents had not the slightest idea. The boy grew up, displaying a diversity of talents, and an inclination for religion. Had he been an ordinary man, how could he have been selected by Christ to become one of his most confidential disciples?
After our Lord had openly come forward, Judas seemed, according to human ideas, to be fitted above others, to aid him in his stupendous object. He offers himself as a disciple, the Savior accepts him, and admits him into the number, assigning to him the administration of their common fund. No one knows anything of him but that he is a true disciple, a devout and highly gifted man, and, in every case, no ordinary character. The Lord Jesus alone soon sees through him, and perceives in him an evil root. This root is covetousness, ambition, and in one word, egotism, that is, the sinful inclination, common to all natural men, for the exclusive gratification, exaltation, and glorifying of self.
That which led Judas into fellowship with Jesus, was probably the hope of acting a prominent part in the kingdom of his wonder-working Master. Finding that he had formed an erroneous idea of that kingdom, which was the reverse of what he expected, he seizes, as we have already seen, the money with which he was entrusted, to compensate him, in a small degree, for his disappointment. The scene at Bethany then occurred, which convinced him that his baseness was discovered; and he then gave way to those feelings of animosity and hatred, which afterward prompted him to betray his master for thirty pieces of silver. We have seen how, after receiving the sop from the latter, the devil entered into him, and from that moment he became the entire property of Satan.
Let us now return to the horrible scene we were contemplating. It is true that the sign of betrayal, which had been agreed upon, had been rendered superfluous by the voluntary approach of Jesus, and his majestic declaration concerning himself. The armed band, however, were unwilling that Judas should forego it, seeing that the thirty pieces of silver had been paid him, and since it might serve as a kind of salve to the consciences of the conspirators. Hence they hinted to him by their looks, to keep his word; and Judas, partly to save the credit of his assumed heroism, and partly to conceal the discouraging impression which the overwhelming words of Jesus had produced upon him, as well as in the furtive hope of disarming the anger of the Holy One of Israel against him by the mark of affection which accompanied his flattering salutation, for he inwardly trembled at his wrath, and his language to the captors—”Seize him and hold him fast!” seems only to emanate from his fear and anxiety, and not, as some would make it appear, as ironically intimating that they would not succeed in doing so—approaches the Lord under the mask of friendly intimacy, welcomes him with the formula of hearty well-wishing, “Hail, Master!” and ventures, like a poisonous viper hissing forth from a rose-bush, to pollute the sacred lips of the Son of Man, amid the plaudits of hell, with his treacherous kiss!
This act is the most profligate and abominable that ever emanated from the dark region of human sinfulness and degeneracy. It grew on the soil, not of devilish, but of human nature, although not without infernal influence, which was voluntarily imbibed; and hence it may be attributed, in all its infamy, to our own race, as such. As the fully expanded flower, it displays the seed of the serpent, which we all of us bear in the center of our being, either developed or in embryo. It condemns our whole race, and at the same time places beyond question the entire necessity of an atonement, mediation, and satisfaction, in order that our souls may be saved. The kiss of Judas continues, in the sphere of morals, to be the shield with Medusa’s head, before which the Pelagian, with his theory of the natural goodness of the human heart, must petrify. That kiss is the indelible brandmark on the forehead of mankind, through which their “virtuous pride” receives the stamp of lunacy and absurdity.
Would that the traitor’s kiss had remained the only one of its kind! But, in a spiritual sense, Jesus has still to endure it a thousandfold to this hour. For, hypocritically to confess him with the mouth, while the conduct belies him—to exalt the virtues of his humanity to the skies, while divesting him of his divine glory, and tearing the crown of universal majesty from his head—to sing enthusiastic hymns and oratorios to him while, out of the concert-room, men not only blush at his holy name, but trample his Gospel by word and deed under foot—What is all this but a Judas-kiss with which they have the audacity to pollute his face? The Savior does not indeed, die from such kisses; but those who dare to offer him such insults will not escape. The loss of reputation and honor, wealth and property, health and life, are of no lasting importance. There exists a compensation for all these; but to lose and alienate ourselves from Jesus, is death and perdition; for he is life and happiness, and the living epitome of peace, salvation, and blessing.
“Hail, Master!” exclaims the traitor. These words are like two poisonous daggers in the heart of the Holy One. He calmly accepts them, nor does he refuse even the infernal kiss itself. He knows why he is passive here, seeing that this grief of heart was also a drop of the cup which his Father had apportioned him, and that at the bottom of this horrible act lay the determinate counsel of the Almighty. Angelic meekness would not have stood the test of that flagitious crime; but here is more than angelic meekness, forbearance, and patience. It is a testimony to the divine endurance of the Lord Jesus; for the traitor would not have chosen this as the signal for betraying his Master had he not been aware of the latter’s boundless long-suffering. Thus, with the very kiss with which he delivered him up to his captors, Judas was compelled to glorify him, and only enhance our ideas of the infinite condescension and love with which he had been favored by the Savior; for he never would have ventured to disguise his villainy under the mask of intimacy, had he not been emboldened by the infinite and often-experienced amiability of his Master. So true it is that in the traitor’s daring to approach him thus the Lord manifests it afresh by his passive resignation to the hypocritical salute of the apostate, and by the spirit of compassion and gentleness which pervades the last words he ever addressed to him.
“Friend,” says the Lord Jesus, with pathetic seriousness, “wherefore are you come?” Who would have expected such mildness on the present occasion? A “Get you behind me, Satan!” or, “a curse light on you with your Joab’s kiss, you whited sepulcher!” would have been more appropriate in the eyes of many. Instead of which, we hear a sound like the voice of a parent tenderly concerned for the soul of his deeply seduced child. And certainly, an outburst of flaming passion would not have been so annihilating to the traitor as was this exhalation of compassionate charity. The word “friend,” or, as it might be more correctly rendered, “companion,” recalled to his mind the privileged position with which, as having been received into the circle of the Lord’s most intimate associates, he had been favored. This address reminded him also of the many manifestations of unspeakable kindness and grace with which he had been loaded for three whole years, in the immediate society and faithful superintendence of the most amiable among men. And if one unobdurate place had been left in his heart, how would this remembrance have affected and overpowered him!
But in the Lord’s pointed reference to the social connection in which Judas had stood with him, there lay, at the same time, an overwhelming condemnation of the conspirators, who did not blush to commit themselves to the guidance of a man whom, in their hearts, they must have despised as a reprobate that had not his equal. An infamous renegade, who was not ashamed thus knavishly and detestably to deliver up and tread upon a faithful friend and master, from whom he had received nothing but benefits, bore the banner before them, and gave them the parole of the day. What a humiliation for them! How shameful and disgraceful! But the hardened band cared at the moment only for the Savior’s fall, and that they might give the death-blow to his hated cause; and this murderous desire took such possession of their souls, as to leave no room for the interests of their own reputation.
“Companion,” says the Lord, “wherefore are you come?” or, “why stands you here?” The dreadful inquisitorial interrogatory rolls like terrific thunder through the traitor’s heart. His conscience awakes in a moment from its deadly sleep, and feels itself carried away, as by an Almighty hand, to the bar of divine judgment. But Judas, prepared for this entrance of truth into his soul, forcibly resists his own conscience, stifles the confession on the lips of his inward monitor, presents the latter the poisonous draught of self-deception, and with the rapidity of one well practiced and experienced in the wicked are, succeeds in again compelling it to silence and apathy. Hence the Lord has nothing left but to let the stroke fall upon the door of his heart, which, if it does not succeed in breaking it open, acts as the knell of eternal reprobation to the traitor.
The Lord now calls him by his name, as men hope to awake a lunatic sleep-walker, who is seen treading on the edge of a precipice, before casting himself down, by a similar procedure. “Judas,” says the Lord, with emphasis, as if he would leave nothing unattempted for his rescue, and as if he intended by it to say, “Does not the mention of your name remind you of its signification—a glorifier of God, and that you are called after the noble and princely tribe of which you are a scion, and yet do you come to me in this manner?” After thus mentioning his name, our Lord plainly characterizes his deed. Yet even then we hear him giving a turn to his speech, as if he disbelieved the possibility of the traitor’s purpose. As if still questioning it, he says, “Betray you the Son of Man with a kiss?” But Judas, under the influence of Satan, answers the question by the commission of that crime which has branded his name as proverbially characteristic of all that is reprobate and flagitious, and which places him in the pillory of the world’s history, marked with the curse of God on his forehead, as a terrific example to mankind for endless ages.
“Betray you the Son of Man with a kiss?” This is therefore, the eternal farewell to the miserable apostate from the lips of the Savior of sinners. Woe to the unhappy man! Hell triumphs over him, heaven forsakes him, and the hollow thunder of that question still rolls over the head of Judas. Eventually, however, the words will be divested of their interrogatory form, and will be changed into a naked judicial declaration, “You betray the Son of Man with a kiss.”
Deeply affected, we close our meditation. Let what has been brought before us have its full effect upon us. Let no pharisaical thanking God that we are not like that man, weaken the impression. The germ of what he was, lies in each of us, and may develop itself before we are aware, unless we place ourselves betimes under the protection of Divine grace. Satan has not yet ceased “Going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour;” and the distance between the first step in the ways of sin, and the last is often quickly accomplished, as long as we are left to ourselves. Let us, therefore, hasten to save our souls and guard our hearts, like a city besieged by the enemy. But our arms of defense must be sought where alone they can be found—beneath the wings of Christ. He is our rock and our fortress, our refuge and strength, and our very present help in every time of need.
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