Great site, thanks for all your insight.
I have a follow-up query about Judas. It would seem from the gospels that during Jesus’ ‘travels’ he came across many of the Jewish leaders , Pharisees, etc, and in fact was questioned and tested by them on several occasions. As they considered Jesus to be a threat to them, they possibly also had ‘spies’ keeping track of where Jesus was and what he was doing. In light of this I have often wondered why they needed Judas to ‘identify’ Jesus and tell the guards/officials where he was so they could arrest him, as surely they already knew what he looked like and where he could be found?
The Jewish officials could have taken Jesus at any time. In fact, He asked them why they didn’t just come and arrest Him in the Temple where He taught every day. (Matt. 26:55-56)
The answer is that they were afraid of doing anything that would have upset the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims packed into Jerusalem for the Passover. Upsetting the peace would bring the Romans down on them all. So when Judas came forward in response to their request for information on His exact whereabouts (John 11:57) they agreed on a plan to take Him quietly, at night.
The Life of Jesus was characterized by the conspicuous fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, over 300 of them in all. The prophecies foretold of a betrayer who was one of His close friends (Psalm 41:9) This friend would betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and the money would be used to buy a potter’s field. (Zechariah 11:12-13)
I don’t mean to imply that God manipulated Judas into betraying Jesus to fulfill prophecy, but that He knew in advance that Judas would, and so He had it written down. Every fulfillment of prophecy made the identity of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and mankind’s redeemer more certain, giving folks like you and me greater justification for our faith.