So, before we get to our chapter for this week, I do want to let you know about a couple of “housekeeping” matters. First, since I was sick last week, I was unable to post an article. I do apologize for that, but I hope that you were able to continue with your readings in my absence. As always, if you missed a day (or seven) just jump back in with us. That’s one of the things these articles are supposed to facilitate. Also, I do promise to finish the articles on the Abrahamic Covenant. Even though I was unable to get them posted while those were the readings, I still think that the Abrahamic Covenant is important enough to warrant posts explaining it. So I’ll try to get those up in the next week or so. Alright, with that out of the way, let’s talk about our chapter this week: Matthew 27.
There’s so much in Matthew 27 that it’s difficult to know where to begin, what to emphasize, and where to simply stop. Since the point of these posts is to be brief, I’m going to focus on one particular portion of the chapter, and specifically the plight of one particular person in the chapter: Judas. Judas is truly one of the most tragic figures in all of Scripture. Think about it, this was a man who followed Christ for the whole of his earthly ministry. He got to see Jesus turn water into wine. He got to see Jesus feed the five thousand. He got to see Jesus interrupt, and end, a funeral procession by raising a man from the dead.
And, in fact, Judas was more privileged than that. Many people followed Jesus during that time. In the book of Acts, when the apostles need to replace Judas, they don’t have to go on an extended search and interview process. There were two candidates right there. Yet Judas was chosen as one of the twelve. These were the men that Jesus trusted above the rest of his followers. These were the men he sent out to perform special tasks. These were the men in whom he confided, who he mentored. They weren’t just followers. They were his closest friends and best students.
Yet in Matthew 26:14-16 we see Judas plot to betray Jesus. He wasn’t tricked by the chief priests. They didn’t even seek him out. He sought them out. He went to them and asked for the best price they would give if he happened to be inclined to betray Jesus. They agreed to his terms. He set up the arrest. He arranged everything. Many throughout the history of the church have wondered why. Why would a man who had seen Jesus do so many great things, who had heard Jesus’ teaching for three years, who had every reason to know exactly who Jesus is…why would a man like that seek out and opportunity to betray him?
The only answer that I can give is that sin blinds us. Sin will cause someone to do something that no one, thinking rationally, would ever do. Sin will trick you into not seeing the consequences, of thinking that they’ll never come. Or perhaps sin will make you think that the consequences are worth it, that they won’t be as bad as people say. Did Judas think that the money would be worth it? Did he think that Jesus would simply escape? Had he thought at all about what would happen after he betrayed the Son of God? We don’t know the answer, but we do know that those consequences came, just like they always do.
When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he finally realized the consequences of what he’d done. Yet his response was not repentance. Repentance is found in a passage like Psalm 51.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
David had sinned when he wrote that Psalm, and his sin had severe consequences. In fact, the rest of 2 Samuel is basically an account of all the consequences of David’s sin. Yet David cries out to God desiring two things: forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God. He returns to these two themes over and over. He wants his sins taken away, and he doesn’t want God to abandon him.
Now look at what Judas wants. In Matthew 27:4 he tells the chief priests that he has sinned, and he in verse 5 throws the money into the temple, leaves, and hangs himself. These aren’t the actions of a man who wants forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God. These are the actions of a man who is trying to undo the consequences he had disregarded when he decided to give into temptation. If he just gave back the money, maybe they’d let Jesus go. Everything would be okay. No one would get hurt. Then after that failed, he realized that the other followers of Jesus, the other disciples and the rest of the group that had followed Jesus, would know what he had done. He’d have to face them. It was more than he could take. He couldn’t be “the betrayer.” So, he tried to undo those consequences too.
Now, I know that suicide is an absolutely devastating reality for those who are left behind by it. And if you have had to go through the aftermath of a loved one committing suicide, please know that you have our prayers. Suicide is not the unpardonable sin, and you can trust God for the eternal state of your loved one. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, please come talk to me. You don’t have to succumb to that temptation any more than Judas had to succumb to his temptation. There is no despair so great that Christ cannot bring comfort. Trust in him.
For ultimately, that is what Judas didn’t do. Judas didn’t trust Christ, and so making a little money off his arrest was no big deal. Then when he saw the horror of what he’d done, Judas didn’t trust Christ. Rather than running to him for the forgiveness he’d promised, Judas tried to fix it. Judas couldn’t fix it.
So, when you’re faced with temptation, don’t be like Judas. Remember that God’s commands are given for a reason, and trust his word over your sinful desires. If you’ve fallen and succumbed to temptation, don’t be like Judas. Don’t try to fix it. Run to Christ for forgiveness and let him fix it. He’s the only one who can.