Shekels of Shame
“ The greater profession men make of religion, the greater opportunity they have of doing mischief, if their hearts be not right with God.” from Matthew Henry’s Commentary
What makes a man (or woman) while recognizing their failure, their sin, refuse to seek forgiveness when it is readily available? Before I throw stones at Judas, I must ask myself the very difficult question: Have I harmed someone whose forgiveness I should seek? Or will I excuse my actions, justify my intentions, or just plain act as if it hasn’t happened?
Judas was wrong. What he did, he might as well have been slinging the whip that ripped Jesus back to shreds, twisting the thorns into a crown, driving the nails into His hands and feet, gambling for His robe made by Mary, or putting the vinegar instead of water up to HIs parched lips. But Jesus died for these sins too. Judas could have had the time to ask forgiveness. He refused.
Thirty pieces of silver. A day’s wage. (Zechariah 11:12-13) The price of a slave. (Exodus 21:32) The equivalent today of about $225.00, a power bill or a communication package (internet, TV, phone). In some countries this is a year’s salary, but for most reading this…………..
Hank Williams Sr., the country singer is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, AL. He was an Alabama boy who sang a song titled, Thirty Pieces of Silver. It was written by Odell McLeod, from Roanoke, AL. The words to the chorus go like this:
30 pieces of silver
30 shekels of shame
Was the price paid for Jesus
On the cross He was slain.
Today, to be labeled a Judas or to be told you are worth no more than “30 pieces of silver” means you are guilty of betrayal. No mother names her son Judas.
Let’s trace the journey of these 30 shekels of shame. How many hands touched it? Could any hands have stopped the betrayal? What did these shekels really buy?
Matthew 26:2, 46 tells us Jesus KNEW he would be betrayed. (Psalm 41:9, Psalm 55:12-14) It was prophesied. (Isaiah 53:3) He knew down to the minute when it would occur. (Mark 14:42)
Matthew 26:2-4 tells us that two days before the beginning of the Passover feast the “chief priests, and the scribes and the elders of the people,” convened at the PALACE of the High Priest (the one who would in just a few days be offering the sacrificial lamb for the nation of Israel) to discuss how they could find Jesus and kill him. This was the intent! KILL JESUS! A High Priest setting up what the mob would call a “hit!” Cold blooded murder. But not on Passover because to do so would cause an “uproar.” Four days earlier, while Jesus is being “prepared for burial” Satan enters into Judas. The open door for Satan? Lust for riches. An expensive ointment “wasted” on Jesus when “it could have been sold.” (John 12:1-8) The love of money is the root of evil (I Timothy 6:10). So Satan has his “patsy.” Judas goes to the headhunters to discuss a plan for his helping to secure Jesus for them and how much he would be paid. They “covenanted.” They had a contract on Jesus head for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus was sold as a slave. (Matthew 26:15) And because Judas wanted the money so badly, he began immediately looking for a time to “betray Him without a crowd.” (Luke 22:6).
It is time for passover. Jesus is having the Passover meal with all twelve of His disciples. They are remembering Moses leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt. Jesus tells them, “One of you will betray me.” Judas, the cunning one, asked, “Is it me?” and Jesus let him know he knew he was!!! (Matthew 26:20-25) Then at the end of the meal, (the institution of the New Covenant) Jesus washes even Judas’ lying feet, Judas knew it was time and Jesus told him, to get it done quickly. (John 13:21-27). Judas scampers off like a demonic monkey to get the religious leaders and their posse only to return under the cover of darkness to insure capture of Jesus without causing a riot. Judas points Jesus out with a kiss of betrayal. (John 18:3, Mark 14:44,45, Luke 22:48, Matthew 26:48-50) Judas is paid his thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 27:3-10 shows us the final leg of the journey of these “shekels of shame.”
Judas’ eyes are opened as Adam and Eve’s in the Garden were opened when they saw their nakedness and hid from the Lord. Jesus stands condemned for NOTHING and is being led to Golgotha, the place of the skull. Judas even acknowledges, “I have betrayed INNOCENT blood.” He is trying to confess to the chief PRIESTS!!! Their response: SO WHAT?
The money is suddenly tainted, the heat of hell burning in his hands. Judas attempts to rid himself of the sin by throwing the coins back in the temple. Can you hear the hollow sound of them falling? He received no forgiveness for he was seeking forgiveness in the WRONG place from the WRONG priest. His despair led to his self-inflicted death.
Because the money was “tainted with blood” the priests certainly could not put it back in the temple treasury. That would be “sinful.” They put their heads together and came up with a “righteous plan” to purchase a cemetery for foreigners. This fulfilled the prophecy by Jeremiah. Listen to Peter’s words about this plot of ground: For he (Judas) was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst and all his bowels gushed out. And it is known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The Field of Blood. For it is written in the Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric (office) let another take. (Acts 1:17-20, KJV) Peter too had betrayed the Lord. But Peter sought forgiveness from the ONLY one who could offer it freely.
Peter understood Isaiah 55:6-7: Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.
We can take one of two paths. One leads to forgiveness. One to condemnation. We are all guilty of betraying the Savior at some point in life, our price may be even less than thirty pieces of silver. A choice must be made on what we will do once we recognize our failure. WE DECIDE. God in His love for us gave us a choice–free will. His death declares we can be found “not guilty!” Amazing grace!