« Prev § 77. Choice of the Apostles.—Of Judas Iscariot. Next »

§ 77. Choice of the Apostles.—Of Judas Iscariot.

There are a few examples on record of Christ’s drawing and attaching to himself disciples who exhibited to his piercing eye the qualities necessary for his service. Probably this procedure was the same in the cases not recorded. The wisdom of Christ, moreover, leads us to conclude that the cultivation of these agents, on whose fitness so much depended, 118was an object of his special care and attention. Although we have not sufficient information to decide, in the case of each Apostle, why he especially was admitted into the number of the twelve, yet such examples as Peter and John, men of most striking character, who show us how the most marked features of human nature receive and tinge Christianity, illustrate the profound wisdom of Christ, and the penetrating glance with which he could detect the concealed plant in the insignificant germ. Yet we are not bound, in order to vindicate Christ’s wisdom, to conclude that all the Apostles were alike men of mark, alike capable of great achievements. It was enough for the fulfilment of their calling that they loved him truly, that they followed him with child-like confidence, and gave themselves wholly up to the guidance of his Spirit; for thus they would be enabled to testify of him, and to exhibit his image in truth and purity. It was enough that among the number there were a few men of pre-eminently powerful character, on whom the rest might lean for support. It sufficed, nay, it was even advantageous, for the developement of the Church, that the Apostles, as a whole, left their accounts of the history of Christ without the peculiar stamp of individual character, since there was only one John among them capable of giving a vivid image of the life of the Saviour in harmonious unity. And it is, therefore, not at all wonderful that men appeared in the later period of the Apostolic Church who accomplished greater things than even some of the Apostles.

As for Judas Iscariot, it by no means follows from the passages which say that Christ knew him from the beginning, that he knew him as an enemy and a traitor; nor does the awful contrast between his Apostolic calling and his final fate show that Christ was wholly deceived in him. Judas may have at first embraced the proclamation of the kingdom of God with ardent feelings, although with expectations of a selfish and worldly stamp; which, indeed, was the case with others of the Apostles. He may have loved Christ sincerely so long as he hoped to find in him the fulfilment of his carnal desires. Christ may have seen in him capacities which, animated by pure intentions, might have made him a particularly useful instrument in spreading the kingdom of God. At the same time, he doubtless perceived in him, as in the rest of the Apostles, the impure influence of the worldly and selfish element, yet he may have hoped (to do for him what he certainly did for the others, viz.) to remove it by the enlightening and purifying effects of his personal intercourse; a result, however, which, we freely admit, depended upon the free self-determination of Judas, and could, therefore, be unerringly known to none but the Omniscient. And even when Judas, deceived in his carnal and selfish hopes, felt his affection for Christ passing into hatred, the love of the Saviour, hoping all things, 119though he saw the rising root of evil, may have induced him to strive the more earnestly to attract the wanderer to himself, in order to save him from impending ruin.184184   See, hereafter, more on the character and fate of Judas.

« Prev § 77. Choice of the Apostles.—Of Judas Iscariot. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection