Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Betrayal of Judas

According to the New Testament gospels, Jesus was arrested, tried, was crucified, buried, and then supposedly rose from the dead. It all started with the betrayal of one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot. But exactly what happened when Judas arrived on the scene depends on your choice of gospels. The synoptics tell one story, John tells another story and the former cannot be reconciled with the latter. To illustrate this discrepancy, it's not necessary to quote all three synoptics; it will do to quote just Mark and compare it with John. Using the NIV, let's take a look at Mark's narrative.

43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled.
51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

Notice what's going on here. While Jesus is speaking, Judas appears on the scene and comes with a crowd armed with weapons and he goes immediately to Jesus. After he does so, Jesus is then arrested. Then one of the disciples (who, we read in other gospels, is Peter) withdraws a sword and cuts the ear off of one of the high priest's servants. As Jesus is being arrested, Jesus then asks the crowd if he is leading a rebellion that they felt necessary to arm themselves, however, they did nothing like this when he spoke in the temple courts.

That this is exactly how the story was meant to be understood can be seen from the gospel of Mark in the NASB. The same passage just quoted is translated below:

43 Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, *came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” 45 After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. 46 They laid hands on Him and seized Him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” 50 And they all left Him and fled.
51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they *seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.

Notice the words that have been highlighted in bold. Starting with verse 43, we read that immediately while Jesus was still speaking, Judas arrived with the crowd. Once there, Judas went immediately to Jesus, kissed him, and then the crowd began to arrest Jesus. As they were taking Jesus to arrest him, one of the disciples took a sword and struck a servant. However, when we turn to John's gospel (quoting the NIV), we read this in John 18: 1-14:

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

Notice that in this passage, Jesus knows what is going to happen so he goes out to meet the crowd rather than let Judas bring the crowd to him. Jesus asks the crowd, "Who is it that you want?" When the crowd responds, Jesus identifies himself, and after he asks the crowd a second time, they answer the same, and Jesus identifies himself again, but then tells them to let his disciples go. Peter then takes a sword and strikes Malchus' ear and is then rebuked by Jesus. Then, the soldiers arrest him and take him to Annas, then to Caiaphas.

But if Jesus went out to meet the crowd, at what point did Judas Iscariot go to kiss him? According to Mark, Judas and the crowd came up to Jesus while he was still speaking to his disciples and, without hesitation, Judas went up and kissed Jesus. However, as we see here in the passage quoted from John, Jesus went out and confronted the crowd and it was only after he told them to let his disciples flee, then does Peter withdraw the sword. And it is only after being rebuked by Jesus is Jesus then arrested. At no point in John's gospel is Jesus betrayed with a kiss. In fact, in Mark's gospel, Peter strikes a servant with his sword after soldiers began arresting Jesus while in John's gospel, Peter strikes a servant with his sword before the soldiers began arresting Jesus. But if Peter struck the servant before Jesus was arrested, when did Judas betray Jesus with a kiss?

What we have here is a discrepancy; both accounts cannot be right. Thus we have another flaw in the New Testament.

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