Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
(Matthew 27:3-10 ESV)
Yesterday we saw that after regretting what he had done to Jesus, Judas went to the chief priests and the elders confessing his sin. They responded callously saying “What is that to us? See to it yourself”.
Notice a couple of things here. Upon receiving evidence that an accused criminal is innocent, it would have been proper for these men to stop the brutal treatment of Jesus that was going on as this scene was happening. But these men, who were the political and judicial leaders of Israel, didn’t seek to correct the injustice; they let it continue.
Secondly, as religious leaders they should have been concerned with Judas’ spiritual state. They should have reached out to him and counseled him into seeking God’s forgiveness. But they didn’t do that either.
We’ve learned in our study of Matthew that these men were false religious and political leaders. And false religious and political leaders aren’t interested in doing the right thing. They are only interested in doing that which helps themselves. True leadership is sacrificial. Any leader who isn’t willing to make sacrifices to his/her own detriment is not a true leader.
Judas gave back the pieces of silver he had been paid to betray Jesus and the chief priests accepted it. But they were very careful about what to do with it. They didn’t want to put it into the treasury because it was blood money.
So instead they bought a potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Their intention was to provide a place where foreigners (i.e. Gentiles) could be buried should they die while in Israel. Sounds nice of them, doesn’t it?
But really what they were doing was using the money that lead to Jesus’ death (money they paid) to do something benevolent and publicly visible. They were trying to score points with the people. This would help divert any attention to their culpability in Jesus’ death, should word get out that they were involved. Doesn’t sound much different from how our modern-day leaders operate, does it?
Notice also how careful they were to obey the law by not putting ill-gotten money into the treasury [Deuteronomy 23:18], even though they were willing to execute an innocent man. It seems they were also trying to score points with God by covering up their evil deed with a good one.
But God is never fooled. He knows everything we do, think, and say. In fact, He had a prophet record these exact events hundreds of years before they ever happened.
All man-made religions (Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism, et. al) operate on the “more good than bad” theory. They think that if a person does more good things than bad things in their life they will go to heaven. Even the ancient Egyptians believed this as noted in this artistic drawing of someone’s heart being weighed after death:
But this is not true.
Sin cannot be removed with an eraser or an “Undo” command. Nor can it be balanced with a corresponding good deed. God does not grade on a scale. Sin leaves an indelible stain that renders a person ineligible for heaven. That is why we need someone to atone for our sins.
And this is why God left heaven and came to earth as Jesus [Philippians 2:5-8]. Only He is capable of saving us from our sins [Isaiah 43:11, 45:21-22; Psalm 118:14; 2 Timothy 4:18 et.al]. We cannot do it ourself.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.