The Remorse of Judas Iscariot
Text: Matthew 27 : 1 - 31
The disciples had all fled. The Gospels did not mention where they fled. That detail was insignificant. John and Peter waited at the courtyard of Caiaphas for news about the trial of Jesus. It was in that courtyard that Peter denied his Master. He wept bitterly for his weakness. Matthew took time to note how Judas fared after his betrayal!
“Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned,
was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver
to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying
innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’
Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and
departed, and went and hanged himself.”
1. Useless feelings of remorse
The foul deed of betraying Jesus was done. He was arrested, tried and condemned by the Sanhedrin Council. Suddenly, Judas felt deeply remorseful! He had betrayed the One he had called “Teacher” if nothing else. Of what use were these feelings of remorse? He could never undo what he had done!
2. “Brought back the thirty pieces of silver”
Those thirty pieces of silver must have weighed heavily in his money-bag. He had no time to spend his ill-gotten money! Now he hated the sight and sound of the money! He brought back the silver to the people who had given him the money! But they didn’t want the money either! Disgusted with himself and with his “friends”, Judas cast the money onto the temple floor! How could he have betrayed Jesus? He must have been insane! He had absolutely no friends now! Who would befriend a traitor like him?
3. “And went and hanged himself…”
In a terrible state of dejection and bewilderment, Judas did what he felt was the only way out! He committed suicide. Everything had gone wrong! Things had not worked out as he had planned – whatever those were!
THE BLOOD MONEY
The money thrown on the floor was gathered up. How should they use the money?
“But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said,
‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury,
because they are the price of blood.’ And they consulted
together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury
strangers in. Therefore that field has been called
the Field of Blood to this day.”
1. The decision of the chief priests
The silver pieces were not just monetary units. The chief priests were correct in saying that “they were the price of blood”.
It is amazing to note how the chief priests and elders showed such scruples with reference to the use of the returned money. Should not they have shown similar scruples before they paid out the money to secure the arrest of Jesus?
2. Putting the money to practical use
Business-like to the bone, the chief priests huddled together and decided that the money could be put to better use. They could buy a small parcel of land in an inexpensive district and they could bury “strangers” there.
People die everyday. Thousands of pilgrims came to Jerusalem every year. Special festivals like the Passover/Unleavened Bread and Pentecost drew multitudes by the thousands to Jerusalem! Inevitably some would die while on pilgrimage. Old age, disease or unforeseen circumstances could lead to an early demise! Where would these be buried? Not everybody would be able to afford to purchase tombs. Burial had to be done on the same day after the individual had expired. Having a special place to bury strangers would be a good use of the money.
ANOTHER AMAZING FULFILMENT OF THE SCRIPTURES
We stand amazed at what the Scriptures foretold. Even this event was mentioned in the Scriptures.
“Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet,
saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value
of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced
and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.'”
‘Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet…’
The text that Matthew cited was in fact taken from the book of Zechariah, rather than Jeremiah. How should we understand Matthew’s reference to Jeremiah then?
a) An oral tradition
As we have already noted, the New Testament writers tended to quote the Scriptures very freely and loosely. This is a typical example. Note how Matthew mentioned Jeremiah. He wrote, “Then was fulfilled what was SPOKEN by Jeremiah the prophet.” It is possible that Matthew was citing a tradition that involved a prophetic statement made by Jeremiah the prophet.
b) Citing Zechariah as a “parenthetical interjection”
The words of Zechariah, rather than the context, fitted the scene of Judas casting the blood money at the feet of the chief priests in the temple. This kind of citation may be called “parenthetical interjection”. The words were used as a parenthesis to the event.