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no longer believed in him.

But does his loss of faith entirely suffice
to explain his treachery? We do not
think so. Having ceased to believe, he
had but to withdraw from the company of
the Twelve and return to obscurity; or
if he wished to oppose Jesus, he should
have done it to his face, without conceal-
ment. His loss of faith does not explain
his profiting by his position as privileged
member of the college of the Twelve to
betray his former Master.

How was it possible that he could remain
an apostle, continue to call Jesus Rabbi,
play the comedy of fidelity and even of


affection to the very last day ? This last
extreme of perfidy is perfectly certain,
entirely historic, but to this day it remains
enigmatical from very f rightfulness. Of
all acts of this kind, the act of Judas is
certainly one of the most appalling in its
revelation of the degree of baseness to
which man may descend.

And yet there are examples of similar
acts of treachery. There are sometimes
found in secret societies — the observation
has often been made — members who be-
come Judases, who take upon themselves
to be denunciators. They are to be found
among the most ardent, whose enthusiasm
has received a check. Traitors are not
infrequent in clandestine associations.

It is perhaps here that we must seek the
true explanation, for the act that took
place here is evidently of this order. From
a zealot Judas became a traitor. He was
one of the fanatics of the little community,
one who was planning great changes, form-
ing grand projects; and suddenly this
fanatic turned upon the community and
denounced its head. A phenomenon of
this sort has its psychological explanation,
and it is verified by history.


In the case which concerns us here,
we can up to a certain point discover the
cause of the atrocious change in Judas.
It is not enough to say that he loved
money; not much better to say that he
had lost his faith. What seems to us to
have taken place in the soul of this man
is this: Judas had proclaimed the gospel,
he had cast out demons, he had looked for-
ward to the kingdom and prepared for its
coming. From the first hour he had been
an enthusiast. And, after all, nothing
that he was expecting had taken place;
and instead of believing for all that, like
Peter and the others, and yielding him-
self to the unwavering influence of Jesus'
faith, which no exterior events ever had
power to unsettle, he permitted himself to
be influenced by events, to be dominated
by them. After having like the others ex-
pected a throne from which to judge one of
the twelve tribes, he had ceased to expect
anything; he had fallen from these lofty
heights, and the fall had been terrible.

In this mood of mind he had heard the
Master speak of renunciation, sacrifice, a
violent death; he had seen the fruitless
triumph of Palm Sunday. Jesus had


not been acclaimed, the priests were
against him, the city was indifferent! If
the others remained faithful to him, it was
only because they were attached to Jesus'
person; but to believe in his Messianic
claim was to be deluded indeed. If they
were still under the influence of his claim,
he, Judas, was so no longer. What! he
saw Jesus taking precautions, seeking to
avoid his enemies, hiding himself from
death ! Oh, now he hated him, hated him
for having deceived him, for having
charmed, enchanted him, hated him for
the delusion in which for nearly three
years he had held him; the thought was
agony that he had once believed and
permitted himself to be deluded through
his belief. And so at last he came to hate
even to death him who had thus disap-
pointed his hopes ! And from this hate he
drew strength to put on a semblance of
fidelity until he should have given him up
to death. Add to this a sort of fear that
took possession of him, of being involved
in difficulties with the Jewish authorities
if anything happened to Jesus. He must
dissociate himself from him ; let him place
himself on the side of the strongest.


This is certainly what took place in
Judas. His hatred of Jesus impelled him
to go to the Sanhedrin and say, "I will
give him up to you if you will pay me for
it."i It is easy to understand the mean-
inof of this remark. Judas knew that the
Sanhedrin dared not arrest Jesus before
the last day of the Feast, and he said to
them, "It is risky to wait; he may go
away before the close of the Feast, he may
escape you. If you wish, I will show you
his hiding-place. The Twelve alone know
it, and I am one of the Twelve. I will
choose my own time for it, the very best
possible. One of these nights I will come
to you, and will clandestinely guide the
men whom you will send to take him."
Judas must have made his proposition in
these terms, and it was received with

That Jesus died at this time is therefore
due to Judas. Judas accepted money in
exchange ; ^ then quietly, still keeping up

1 Matt. xxvi. 15.

- A sum of a little more than one hundred francs,
equivalent in actual value to five or six hundred francs
of our money (one hundred or one hundred and twenty


the appearance of fidelity, he sought a
favorable occasion, a propitious night.

The imagination is bewildered by the
infamy of this man. He had fallen to this
point: so much is certain, and it is so mon-
strous that we can understand those who, in
pity for the wretch, have sought for extenu-
ating circumstances ; but there are none.

It was Wednesday, the eve of the day
on which the Passover must be eaten, and
Jesus decided to give orders for the prepa-
ration of the paschal meal. To this end
he doubled his precautions. This was
necessary, for on that evening he would
not be able to leave Jerusalem as early as
usual. The paschal meal was a long one ;
it closed with the singing of several
psalms, and it would not be possible to
leave the city before ten or eleven o'clock
at the earliest.

Jesus made arrangements with a friend
whom the apostles themselves did not
know; in this matter he acted as he had
acted with regard to his entrance into
Jerusalem. Having reason to suspect
some one of the Twelve, he told none of
them in advance ; but it had been decided
that at a certain hour in the course of


Thursday this friend would send some
one, doubtless one of his servants, to a
place agreed upon, and that, as a means
of recognition, this person should carry a
pitcher of water.

Two of the apostles, sent by Jesus, were
to recognize him by this sign, and to fol-
low him without speaking. Following
him, they were to enter the house which
he entered, and there, safe from indiscreet
observers, they would be brought before
the master of the house, to whom they
were to say : " The Rabbi says, ' Where is
my chamber, where I may eat the Pass-
over with my disciples ?'" ^ The master
would then show them a large chamber, a
dining-room furnished with rugs, couches,
and all that was necessary for a meal.

In thus confiding in only three jDcrsons,
the master of the house and two apostles
of whom he was entirely sure, Peter and
John, Jesus could be certain that this
house would not be pointed out to the
emissaries of the Sanhedrin, and that in it
he might pass a few quiet hours. ^

1 Mark xiv. 13, 14.

2 Matt. xxvi. 1 ff.; Mark xiv. 12; Luke xxii. 7 f£,;
John xiii. 1 ff.


Everything took place as had been fore-
seen. The two designated disciples pre-
pared the Passover, and Thursday evening
having come, the Master and the twelve
apostles repaired to the appointed house. ^

1 A grave question arises here. Was it indeed the
Jewish Passover which Jesus celebrated on this night,
eating the paschal lamb with his disciples ? It is evi-
dent that we have here two historic problems to solve.
The first is the nature of the meal partaken of by
Jesus on Thursday, the evening before his death : was
it at an ordinary meal that Jesus instituted the Lord's
Supper, or was it after celebrating the Jewish Passover
that he instituted the Christian Passover 1 The second
problem is that of date. Was this Thursday the 13th
or the 14th Nisan, and Jesus being crucified on the next
day, Friday, was he crucified on the 14th or the 15th ?

We shall not go over the history of these two ques-
tions, which have been answered now in one way, now
in another, and always with plausible arguments in favor
of the solution proposed. If it is decided that Jesus
kept the feast of the Jewish Passover, with all his race,
on the 14th Nisan, and that this date fell on Thursday,
the Fourth Evangelist is in error, for he gives the date
of the supper as the 13th Nisan, and speaks not of the
Passover, but of an ordinary meal ; further, he says that
Jesus was crucified in the afternoon of the 14th, at the
hour when in the Temple the lambs were being slain
that were to be eaten by the Jewish families that same

Notwithstanding the great value which we attach to
the historic statements of the Fourth Evangelist, we
believe that he is here in error, and we accept the
Synoptic tradition that Jesus celebrated the Jewish


Passover on Thursday, which in that year fell on the
14th, and that he was crucified on the 15th Nisan.

One principal motive is the indisputable authenticity
of the details given by the Synoptics as to what oc-
curred at this paschal feast. The story of the myste-
rious preparations, as they have just been reviewed,
was not invented, and such an utterance as " With de-
sire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before
I suffer" (Luke xxii. 15) is certainly authentic.

The only real difficulty is that Jesus should have been
crucified on the great day of the Feast, since, as is sup-
posed, a capital execution was impossible on that day.
This difficulty has appeared to bo so great that it has
beeu supposed that Jesus, celebrating the Jewish Pass-
over, antedated by a day the custom of his people, and
ate the paschal lamb twenty-four hours earlier than the
other Jews ; but this supposition is wholly inadmissible.
The paschal lamb was never slain in the Temple before
the appointed day ; it would have been a sort of sacri-
lege. Furthermore, Jesus had no motive for anticipat-
ing the day, since he did not certainly know that his
death was imminent.

There remains the supposed impossibility of a capi-
tal execution on the 15th Nisan: there was no such

The 15th of Nisan was indeed the first day of the
Feast, and it is very true that the repose of this day
was observed as strictly as that of the Sabbath. It is
difficult to picture to one's self the rigor with which the
cessation of all work on that day was regulated : it was
a capital crime to kill even an insect. It is impossible
then to admit that the Jews could have proceeded to
an execution. In saying all this, only one thing has
been overlooked, that is, that it was not the Jews who
put Jesus to death, but the Romans; and the latter
would not be in the least displeased at pouring ridicule


upon the Jews by crucifying one of them on the very
day of the Feast. Pilate, who took special pains to
mock the Sadducees by affecting to call Jesus their
king, and to insist upon his royalty in the inscription
placed above his head, might very easily have pushed
the raillery which was intended to vex tliem so far as
to make a special point of crucifying Jesus immediately
after his condemnation, on the very day of the Feast,
the day when Jerusalem was most crowded. Yes ; it is
very true that the Jews executed no one on a feast
day ; but the cross was not a Jewish mode of execution,
it was exclusively Koman. Thus a difficulty which
to many still seems to be insurmountable is entirely

Besides, occur when it might, the execution of Jesus
was a very small matter. Nothing was more common
at that time than executions commanded and carried
out by the Romans. Thirty years before, Varus had
caused two thousand insurgents to be crucified. During
the war of the year 70, Titus crucified five hundred
prisoners a day. In the face of such facts what was the
crucifixion of three men only ?

Finally, it has not been considered that a crucifixion
would have been much more difficult on the eve of the
15th, in the afternoon of the day when the lambs were
being slain in the Temple, than on the day following.
On the afternoon of the 14th the entire population was
occupied with preparations for the great festival of the
evening, and much more absorbed by the latter than by
anything that could occur the next morning, the 15th,
when they had so much the less to do because on that
day rest was absolute.

Let us further notice that when Nicodemus, Joseph
of Arimathea, and the holy women were preparing the
body of Jesus for burial, they all hastened the work be-
cause the Sabbatic rest was about to begin (Mark xv.


42 f. et paralL), and not at all because they were in haste
to go to eat the paschal lamb with their families. They
had eaten it on Thursday evening. The sacred feast
had already been celebrated.

For us, then, this much-controverted question is

It results, therefore, that St. John was mistaken.
Whence could his error have arisen 1 It is due to a
dogmatic prepossession. He who usually is so exact
when he traces the outlines of the life of Jesus, and
whose chronology is generally worthy of confidence, is
much less so when he gives precise figures. Thus he
says that when Pilate took his seat upon his tribunal
and presented Jesus to the crowd with the words, " Be-
hold your king," it was noon (John xix. 14). Without
any doubt he is mistaken ; and the Synoptic tradition,
which places the crucifixion at nine o'clock and the
death of Jesus at three in the afternoon, appears to be
more worthy of confidence. It is entirely impossible
that Jesus, presented to the people at noon, could have
been condemned, led away to execution, crucified, and
buried before sunset of the same day. What, then, is
the dogmatic prepossession of the Fourth Evangelist 1
This : he shows Jesus as put upon the cross on the 13th
Nisan, at the very hour when tlie paschal lambs were
slain, because he sees a connection betAveen the two
acts. In his mind Jesus is " the Lamb who takes away
the sins of the world " (John i. 29). His intention here
is too evident to permit us, on this point, to give historic
value to his testimony.




T^7E have cirri ved, therefore, at Thurs-
day evening, April 6, of the year
30, according to a chronological calculation
which, though not entirely certain, has im-
portant elements of probability. Accord-
ing to the Jewish calendar, as we have
shown, it was the 14th Nisan, the sacred
evening which Jesus piously celebrated
every year.

The apostles and the Master were half
extended, in Oriental fashion, upon cush-
ions and rugs.i Jesus, presiding by right,
broke the great flat cakes which served for
bread, the dough of which had not fer-
mented; he piled the broken pieces one
upon another. Before the Master, cut
into equal pieces, was the lamb which the
two disciples whom Christ had chosen
had caused to be killed a few hours earlier.

1 Mark xiv. 15.


It had been roasted ; and beside this dish
of meat was a dish of lettuce or wild
chicory, called "the dish of bitter herbs."
Finally there was the charoseth, the sauce,
of a reddish color, in which each in turn
dipped his piece of unleavened bread.
Four times Jesus passed the cup around.
After the first, they sang together the first
part of the Hallel ; ^ after the fourth, they
sang the second part,^ intoning the sacred
words with full voices and full hearts.

Yet Jesus felt the darkest forebodings.
All possibility of escape seemed to him to
be lost. If it was known that he was
there, in that house, that, contrary to his
habit, he had not left the city at nightfall,
how easy it would be to arrest him !

And then, to go away, to put himself
out of the reach of his enemies, would be
merely an expedient. Oh, this Passover
which he had so desired to celebrate
without hindrance ! ^ It had come now !
But afterward ? How much longer would
he still be there? The new year just
opening (for the religious year begins at
this time, according to the Jewish calendar)

1 I'salnis cxiii., cxiv. - Psalms cxv,, cxviii.

3 Luke xxii. 15 f.


would not find him there at its close.
And yet he was sustained by his indomita-
ble hope ; never had he been firmer in his
faith. The kingdom would shortly ap-
pear; he would not again drink of this
fruit of the vine, this Passover wine, be-
fore the banquet of the kingdom.^

So with the lamb and the unleavened
bread, he was not again to eat them until
the coming of the kingdom. He expected
the kingdom then, that very year ; he who
knew not the hour appears in this place to
point out at least the year, that very year.
Then he spoke of the festival that was to
come ; the apostles were to be seated at his
table, in his kingdom, and very soon the
Twelve would be sitting on thrones, at his
side, 2 judging the twelve tribes. He then
had perfect faith in his work, and all the
hopes that he had thus far cherished were
still his.

He spoke also of his sufferings. He had
desired to celebrate this Passover " before
he suffered." Ah, how clearly he saw
what great sufferings were awaiting him!
But anything so unforeseen as a sudden

1 Matt. xxvi. 29 ; Mark xiv. 25 ; Luke xxii, 18.

2 Luke xxii. 29, 30.


arrest that very night, followed by con-
demnation and immediate execution all in
less than tAventy-four hours, was far from
his thought. We offer only one proof of
this : in the first century a criminal process
was not thus conducted; the guilty were
never arrested, judged, and condemned
the same day, especially not in the night.
The existing law formally opposed it. It
was obligatory that twenty -four hours
should elapse between the judgment and
the giving of sentence.^ Who then would
have supposed that in this case the law
would be broken, that Jesus w^ould be put
to death more after the manner of an as-
sassination than of a lawful execution ?

We have said that it was Judas, by the
decision which he made that very evening
in the upper chamber, wdio fixed the day
of Jesus' death, or at least the night of his
arrest. It was he who, by going to the
Sanhedrin that very night, caused them to
modify their plan of waiting, caused them
to hasten things to such a point that,

1 At least so affirms the Mishna. SanJied. iv. 1, 2,
V. 1, iv. 3 et passim. There remains still a donht, hoAv-
ever, since Moses commanded tlie stoning of the se-
ducer of his people even without trial (Deut, xiii. 1 ff.) .


though on Thursday evening Jesus was
still at liberty, at sunset of Friday he was
already buried.

Two interests occupied Jesus during
that evening, — his sufferings and his
kingdom. His disciples were to remain
humble and insignificant, as a preparation
for the kingdom; there must be no
struggle for precedence; their present
duty was to serve. ^ At this point St.
John preserves a particularly touching
detail. Jesus washed his disciples' feet
before sitting down to table with them;
showing them by a symbolic act what
they were to understand by service. He
told Peter that he should soon perceive the
significance of this act, evidently alluding
to an approaching humiliation, a supreme
service, perhaps a sacrifice. He would
obey as far as the Father should bid him

At another moment he said that it was
needful that they should provide them-
selves with swords. 2 He asked the apostles
if they had wanted for anything when in
Galilee he had sent them on a mission

1 Luke xxii. 24, 27. Cf. John xiii. 4 ff.

2 Luke xxii. 35-38.



bidding them take neither purse, nor scrip,
nor a change of footwear. "We wanted
for nothing," replied the disciples. "But
now," added Jesus, "let him who has a
purse take it, and likewise him who has a
scrip; and he who has no sword, let him
sell his cloak and buy one, for I say unto
you, that this Scripture must be fulfilled
in me. And he was numbered with the
transgressors. For the things which con-
cern me are drawing to an end." The
apostles produced two swords which they
had with them : one was Peter's, the other
belonged to one of his fellow disciples.
"Lord, here are two swords." "It is
enough," replied Jesus.

What does this mean ? Jesus speaking
of buying swords to defend themselves
and him ! And when they show him two,
declaring that two will be enough ! They
would not have been enough if he had
really intended to seek the defence of
arms; and he knew it well, since he had
just asked them all to arm themselves,
saying that he preferred a SAVord even to a
cloak, a necessary garment! All this is
highly inexplicable. It is probable that
the reminiscences of the witnesses are


not very clear on this point; they recall a
dialogue which their memories have only
half preserved.

This is not surprising. At a later time
the apostles recalled to mind this last
meal, and understood its exceptional
grandeur, which they had not at the time
perceived, believing that Jesus was yet to
be for a long time with them. The memory
of this evening then became precious above
all others, as the last hours spent with a
beloved friend are always precious when
he has been suddenly taken away from us.
We seek to recall every one of the words
of that last day; we take note of every-
thing, fragments of phrases return to our
memories, and rather than one should be
lost, we preserve phrases which do not
easily fit into others, and often are not
easy to understand.

No doubt Jesus told his disciples that
the situation was no longer what it had
been in Galilee; that they must give up
the Essenian customs in which they had
lived from day to day, with no change of
garments, and no arms for self-defence
against probable attacks of robbers when
on their journeys. Was his thought about


swords connected with the dangers with
which the near future threatened himself ?
Perhaps. But when he said that two
swords were enough, it was with the
meaning "are useless; " it was an ironical
phrase, meaning "That will do, let it go."
Jesus certainly had no desire that they
should make use of swords; he had no
thought of an armed defence, if he and his
friends should be surprised by an ambush.
Such a thing would be so contrary to all
that we know of him, that we cannot bring
ourselves to admit it.

Jesus then at once abandoned his first
thought of buying swords ; it was a mere
fleeting impulse. Peter, however, declared
that, if necessary, he would die for him,
saying, "I will never be offended."^
Jesus, who knew him, and was aware how
completely he yielded to the impulse of the
moment, declared that he would go so far
as to deny him, even to deny him three
times — that is to say, several times — if
the occasion presented itself. Peter pro-
tested, and the ten others who heard him
protested in their turn.^

1 Matt. xxvi. 33 ; Mark xiv. 29,

2 In Hebrew the number three is indeternuDate and


Wheat else took place that evening?
The apostles remembered afterward that
Jesus had been oppressed by the thought
that there was a traitor among them, and
that he had said, " One of you will betray
me."i When he uttered the words Judas
remained unmoved. John, at a sign from
Peter, asked, "Who is he?" Jesus, who
merely had his suspicions, simply gave to
Judas a bit of bread dipped in the charoseth,
saying in a low tone, " Observe to whom
I give this."

Not long after Judas went out; he was
going to propose to the priests that he
should immediately conduct them to the
hiding-place at Gethsemane and arrest
Jesus. It is possible that he perceived
that his former Master had found him out,
and that he feared to be too late if he did
not act at once. In any case it is certain
that even while Christ was in the very act

signifies several (2 Cor. xii. 8). Ought this saying of
Peter to be placed later, on the way to Gethsemane,
and was it only then that Peter protested his devotion
to his Master ? We cannot tell ; this detail is one of

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