Wednesday, March 19, 2008

30 Pieces of Silver

“Then what was spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: They took the 30 pieces of silver, the price of Him whose price was set by the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:9-10 CSB)

There are a number of tragedies in the Bible but none so great as that of Judas Iscariot. No one knows what his motivations were for his actions. Folks out in Hollywood have tried to make Judas into a good guy, a misunderstood guy, a victim kind of guy. The fact is, however, no one can know what was in his heart and mind that led him to do what he did. All we can know is what he did.

When Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was “full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” (verse 3) He acknowledged that he had betrayed innocent blood. That suggests that he had some reason for betraying Jesus, but we cannot know what it was. Judas had gone to the chief priests and elders and had agreed to betray Jesus to them for 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave. When remorse set in, he tried to return the money, but the chief priests and elders refused to take it back because it was “blood money.” So Judas threw the silver into the sanctuary and went and hanged himself. The chief priests then took the money and bought the “potter’s field” as a burial site for foreigners.

Consider these quotes from Jeremiah and Zechariah.

“Then my cousin Hanamel came to the guard’s courtyard as the Lord had said and urged me, ‘Please buy my field in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for you own the right of inheritance and redemption. Buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field in Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and I weighed out to him the money – 17 shekels of silver.” (Jeremiah 32:8-9 CSB) At the time this transpired, Jerusalem was surrounded by the Babylonians and about to fall. Who in their right mind would buy a field that was about to fall into enemy hands? Yet, the Lord had told Jeremiah to do this. It was a prophetic message about redemption and hope.

“Then I said to them, ‘If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.’ So they weighed my wages, 30 pieces of silver. ‘Throw it to the potter,’ the Lord said to me – this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the Lord, to the potter.’” (Zechariah 11:12-13 CSB)

Considering these verses and what we see in Matthew, we can see a number of important words emerge: inheritance, redemption, burial, blood. While these 30 pieces of silver certainly represent the betrayal of Jesus, they may also be considered as symbolic of the event that was about to take place, one where blood would be given for our redemption, establishing an inheritance for us, one that would come only after burial. This simply reveals the power of God to take something evil and redemptively turn it into something good.

Lord, We thank You for the power of Your redemption, which has brought forgiveness to each of us who believe in Jesus. May we ever be faithful to You. Amen.

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