Matthew 27:3-10 (Part 1) – Judas And The Jesus He Wanted

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 27:3-10 (Part 1)

Judas Hangs Himself

Have you ever made a decision that you wished you could take back? There are actions that we take that have results that were not what we had intended. Just look at history. There are many examples of unintended results. One of the times that I can think of is when after World War I, the victorious powers felt it best to punish Germany in every way possible. The economic sanctions were severe and it resulted in a crippled Germany where inflation was rampant and supplies were scarce. The German people were desperate for change. The old ways were no longer working and had resulted in a destroyed and weak Germany. The result was the chaos that was German after World War I set the stage for Hitler’s rise to power. He wooed the people with fond memories of what Germany used to be like. He reflected on how German could be great again and with the right leadership could be unified and great again. He slogan could have been, “Make Germany Great Again!” With Germany in ruins and inflation so high that you had to have a wheelbarrow full of Duestche Marks to buy groceries, his rhetoric resonated with the German people. Once elected, you know the consequences. With his nationalistic pride shared by the people, they were willing to accept anything that Hitler did. Invasions of other countries were seen as the spreading of Hitler’s idea of the superior German race. His ideas of this superior German race and the fact that the Jews were seen as controlling all of Germany’s remaining wealth lead to the Holocaust. In any other time in Germany, the Nazi party would have been seen as a fringe element and never would have taken hold. However, with the combination of a nation in physical ruins from World War I, and in financial ruin from the same, desperate people will follow people like Hitler who promise restoration of greatness. Dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs, feelings of loss of power, and economic loss will create demagogues that will promise the sun just so they can take power. Once in power, they chip away at freedoms and commit atrocities all with idea of unifying and cleansing a nation. The rise of military dictators throughout modern history can be traced to people’s willingness to support someone who can restore order and make a nation feel good about itself again. Hitler’s reign of terror and the resulting second world war that changed the political landscape of not only Europe but the Middle East and northern Africa has implications that we still feel today. All of it can be traced back to the decision after World War I to crush and punish Germany rather than rehabilitate it and rebuild it and to supervise its re-entry into the world community.

 

Unintended results. Backfired plans. Judas can relate. Let’s read what happened to him after his betrayal of Jesus. Let’s read Matthew 27:3-10:

 

3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

 

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

 

5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

 

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

 

There is much conjecture as to why Judas betrayed Jesus and the gospels do not assist us in that regard. However, the one theory that makes the most sense is that Judas was trying to force Jesus’ hand into starting a revolution against the Romans and their sympathizers, the Jewish religious rulers. As we know from earlier passages not only in Matthew but in the other gospels as well, the disciples had argued amongst themselves as to who would be greatest in Jesus’ new kingdom. They were sure that it was going to be an earthly kingdom as well as a heavenly one. Judas saw bringing Jesus to trial as an opportunity for him to win over the religious elite and thus unify Israel behind Jesus and start a revolt against Rome. He wanted Jesus to be the political and military Messiah that the Jews had created in their minds as the restorer of Israel’s earthly greatness. All of Israel desired the restoration of the greatness known under David and Solomon. But when Jesus did not respond the way that Judas expected and when the religious leaders revealed that they had their own motives for confronting Jesus, Judas realized that he had sold Jesus into a trap. He realized that the religious elite wanted Jesus out of the way and were looking for any excuse to eliminate the political threat that Jesus posed to their uneasy détente with the Romans. The results were not what he intended. He want the meeting with the religious elite to be the start of Jesus’ consolidation of power rather than his sentence to death. It was the end of the popular ride that he had been on for three years. He wanted that to continue but his actions were about to bring it to an abrupt end, by Judas’ reasoning.

 

What do we learn from Judas betrayal and subsequent regret? I think we learn that we should never use Jesus to meet our own agenda. If we do, we miss the Messiah. When we try to use Jesus as support for our own agenda, we often drive people away from Jesus. When we try to use Jesus to support our own behavior, we misguide people as to who Jesus really is. When we try to make use Jesus to achieve our own political ends, the truth comes out and we do Jesus a disservice. All throughout history, people have misused Jesus to achieve their own ends. I don’t have to remind of all the times that things have been done in the name of Jesus to cloak a person’s real motivations. Everytime we do this, we may have the unintended results of driving whole people groups away from Jesus. Are you and I representing Jesus well? Are we using Jesus to get what we want and calling that following Jesus? Let us examine ourselves and our motives when it comes to following Jesus. He was not political. He was all about one thing. He was all about drawing people unto and reconciling them to God. He was all about salvation. He was all about the truth of God. When we are about drawing people unto the saving grace of Jesus Christ, then we are His disciples. When we are using Jesus to support and further our own agenda, then we are not. We may think we are innocently using Jesus and no one will know. However, when we use Jesus for our own ends, we may be creating the unintended circumstances of driving whole families, and whole peoples away from the cross. May we examine our motives for following Jesus and not just be remorseful over what we find, but fully repent of it. For the only thing that matters is not our ego and our agenda, but people finding salvation in Jesus Christ. That’s the only thing that matters, not our ego, not our pride, not our agenda, but Jesus’ agenda. That’s what matters. Amen and Amen.

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