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.’ So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 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, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’
Matthew 27:6-10 (NIV)
Read: Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:1-10
Consider: It is obvious from the gospels that Judas made a conscious choice to betray Jesus. Over the years there has been much speculation as to Judas’ exact motivation for wanting to betray Jesus. The gospels don’t shed any light on this other than he was tempted by the thirty pieces of silver. Judas did, however, show remorse for his action but this led to him taking his own life rather than asking for forgiveness. Contrast this with Peter who denied Jesus three times, yet was able to be brought back into relationship with God by being forgiven.
Matthew refers to the prophecy of Jeremiah as substantiation concerning its fulfilment through the chief priests using the thirty pieces of silver, returned by Judas, to buy the potter’s field as a burial ground. It must be acknowledged that what is reported in Matthew bears similarity to Zechariah’s prophecy (see Zechariah 9:9), as well as what is recorded in Jeremiah 19:1-13 and 32:6-9. However, Matthew uses the Greek word for ‘spoken by’ in his narrative and so could be reporting an oral prophecy of Jeremiah that was well know at that time. We don’t need to waste time deliberating the issue, as there is much learned discussion available on the subject if you are interested in reading further.
The question I have asked myself many times is: ‘Could Judas have received forgiveness if he had repented and asked for forgiveness?’ I think the answer to this has to be ‘Yes’. If we look at Peter who denied Jesus and Saul (Paul) who persecuted the early believers, they were both able to be forgiven and to be used powerfully by Christ in leading and encouraging the early church. This offer of forgiveness conforms with what is said in John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus himself confirms in Matthew 12:31 that there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven:
And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
Unfortunately Judas sealed his own fate by leaving this world in an unrepentant state.
No matter how sad it is for us to read of Judas’ death, it is clear in Scripture that forgiveness is freely offered by God to all who are prepared to receive it. No matter what someone has done in the past this offer of forgiveness is available. Paul sums this up well in his letters. Firstly in Romans 3:21-24, where he says:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Secondly in 1 Timothy 1:16, Paul could say:
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
Pray: Father, we thank you that there is nothing we have done that is beyond your forgiveness. May we be willing to surrender our lives to you and to seek your forgiveness, so that we can live each day in the full knowledge of this wonderful free gift of grace. Amen