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Gabriel stood directly behind Yeshua, his wings unfurled, his feathers soft and downy white.

His head was bowed low, his arms hung down the front of his dazzling white robe, his hands clasped together.  His wings curled forward, almost embracing Yeshua in front of him.  He was in a position of great reverence in the presence of his Lord and Master on this final Passover night.

Guards were posted all around the house, their presence obvious, their swords unsheathed.  They would not be disturbed this night.  Only the Evil One had leave to come and go as he pleased.

And he was there, working his evil in the life of Judas Iscariot, who was unaware of him so far.  There was an unholy alliance between them, a bond that would give Satan his foothold.  But not against the will of Judas. That was the great evil, the same evil that existed from the beginning.  No, not against his will, but with his full consent.

While they were eating the Passover lamb, together with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs, Yeshua, troubled in his spirit for Judas, said, “I have to tell you something.  One of you is about to betray me.”

“Not I, Lord, surely?”  Matthew said.

“I would never –“

“Lord, please, we would never betray you.”

Some were indignant, competing with one another to ask their questions, though Yeshua did not answer.  It was not his intention to expose the traitor but rather to warn him.

Judas sat quietly not daring to say anything, but he evidently didn’t want to look conspicuous by not showing indignation and confusion along with the rest.  So in the babble of voices, even Judas asked him, “Not I, Rabbi, surely?”

Without looking up, Yeshua replied quietly.  “Your own words  condemn you.”

Simon Peter signaled to Yochanan  to ask Yeshua quietly who it was.

“It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish,”  Yeshua said quietly.  He dipped the piece of bread in the dish of bitter herbs and gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.  No one really noticed in the confusion of the moment other than Yochanan and Simon Peter, but even they were uncertain of what it all meant.

Judas paused with the bread in his hand, having just received it from Yeshua, while a small piece of the bitter paste of herbs dropped to the table.

Yeshua quieted the group and said to them.  “Listen, all of you.  I have something I want you to hear.”  He was careful not to look at Judas directly. “What will happen to me is already written, but the man who betrays me must be warned.  He has a choice.  Better for that man if he had never been born.”  

Those last words were the clearest warning that Yeshua could give him.  It would be the last.  The decision was his.  He could turn away or continue his reckless scheme.

The room was quiet.

Judas was oblivious to anything but the bread in his hand and he stared at it intently.  He slowly took the bread and brought it to his mouth, his face wincing slightly at the bitter taste of the herbs, forgetting for the moment that they represented the bitter years of slavery in Egypt and the years of punishment in the desert that God had inflicted upon the Isra´elites for their stubborn rebellion and unbelief.  And now, Judas had decided upon that same path.

At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him.   The doorway had been opened, more than once, in fact, but Judas was beyond understanding his reasons or his motives.  His mind was filled with the swirling deceptions of his own justifications to rationalize his plans.  Satan had a willing accomplice.

Yeshua finally turned to look at Judas and said, “What you are going to do, do it quickly.”

None of the others at the table understood the reason he said this.  Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Yeshua was telling him to buy what they needed for the Shabbat preparations which began the next day or telling him to give something to the poor.

As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread, he went out.  Though he had participated in the feast of Passover, he would not participate in the communion of the new covenant in the body and blood of Yeshua.

And that was as it should be, Gabriel knew.

Night had fallen.  But it would be no ordinary night.  For this was the dark night of the soul.

*****

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The Temptations of the Cross by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers. All rights reserved.
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Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.