When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he declared, "for I have betrayed an innocent man."
"What do we care?" they retorted. "That's your problem."
Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
The leading priests picked up the coins. "It wouldn't be right to put this money in the Temple treasury," they said, "since it was payment for murder." After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter's field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
"They took the thirty pieces of silver —
the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
and purchased the potter's field,
as the Lord directed."
— Matthew 27:3-10 NLT
What is Jesus worth to you? You remember the line in the famous old hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross? "Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."
While there has been much speculation about why Judas did what he did, the bottom line is simply this: He sold his Master out for thirty pieces of silver! Nothing can make that right except Jesus' love and forgiveness. The fact that Judas took his life for betraying Jesus indicates that he missed the whole point: Jesus died so we don't have to die in our sin.
While Peter got the message, received forgiveness, and was called back into ministry, Judas could not see beyond his own horrible deed. He couldn't see the Lord's victory over death. He couldn't see the Lord's love for him. He couldn't see the possibility of forgiveness. He couldn't see beyond his own horrible failure.
Incredibly, Jesus called one of his greatest opponents to be his missionary to the Gentiles when he confronted Saul on the road to Damascus. What a shame that Judas died as a traitor when he could have been welcomed back home as a forgiven son.
Holy God, I must confess that I am often tempted to hate Judas. What he did to your Son and my Savior is unconscionable. But in my heart, I find myself mourning for him today as I think you did. To be so close to the Savior and miss salvation, to be so close to the seat of mercy and die unreconciled, to see Jesus' compassion and kindness and yet bring such a cruel and self-inflicted fate to himself is tragic. Help me to be an agent of your mercy so that those around me who have had times of failure can find their way back to Jesus, and to you! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.