Matthew 27:1-10 ~ "The Fate of Judas"
Turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 27
Matthew 27:1 “When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. 3 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 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 went and hanged himself.”
Morning has come. We are not told where Judas was while the trial was going on but he is obviously in the area. The Chief Priests have reached their verdicts and either went to bed or so much time had passed that they were just finishing up in the early morning. The Romans didn’t allow subjugated people to carry out the death penalty so the Jewish leaders decide to turn Jesus over to them to be crucified.
Judas, we are told, sees this. He looks on bewildered as his teacher, the man he handed over to them, is bound and taken to Pilate. He understands now that the Jewish leaders want Jesus dead. This apparently catches him off guard. They are taking Him to Pilate to ask that he be crucified and Judas cannot see why this request would not be granted. Jesus would be condemned to the most painful and humiliating death ever invented, Judas was responsible.
We are told that when he saw that Jesus was condemned “he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood”
I want to deal with vs 3 – 5 today and I'm going to be breaking my sermon down into four sections.
- The review of the man
Joshua, Tyler and Ryan have covered this in previous weeks but I want to give a brief recap and draw our attention to the lead up to our passage this morning.
- His Realization and repentance vs 3
- The reaction of a guilty conscience vs 3-5
- His self-murder vs 5 – end of the verse
- The review of the man
Who was Judas and how did he fit into the twelve apostles. Judas is introduced to us in Mat 10:1-4 where we see that Judas is called just like the rest of the disciples and given authority to cast out demons and heal every disease.
“1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these:first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
The name Judas is a form of the name Judah one of the twelve tribes of Israel. It means "God leads". The fact the Judas' parents gave him this name probably indicates that he came from a devout believing Jewish family. Iscariot is a combination of two words Ish and Kerioth meaning man from Kerioth which is the town Judas grew up in. As there were two disciples called Judas they needed a way to distinguish them. I mention this because Judas was the only disciple not from Galilee. Most of the other disciples knew each other. There were three sets of brothers, they had joint business enterprises, and they were all from the northern parts of Galilee. Kerioth on the other hand was south of Judea. Judas would have been unknown to the others and outside his family environment. They would not have known what sort of person he was and this probably aided in his deception. But that is not to say that Judas would have been a noticeably bad Jew or person. We find out that Judas had charge of the money bag so it can be assumed that he was very well able to present himself as a trustworthy person. He was good at gaining people's trust and consequently was a monumental hypocrite. He was the opposite of trustworthy, he was completely unworthy of trust as we find that he is a thief who helped himself to the money of the group. In passing himself off as an honest person, when he was anything but, he shows us that he was also a liar.
While all this is true of Judas, the disciples and probably Judas himself did not know it. Remember Judas was raised in the religious Jewish family. He would have considered himself to be a good Jew. He was selected by Jesus out from the rest of the people to be part of the inner circle. He believed in God, kept the feasts and the Passover and thought perhaps that he had found and was following the Messiah.
The warning in this is clear. The fact that you were raised in Christian family or involved in church does NOT affect your standing before God. The children of believers are born just as lost and just as morally depraved as those born to unbelievers. Judas shows us that we dare not assume the gospel for ourselves or our children. We have so many wonderful children in this church and I can think of nothing more horrifying then that even one of them would live out his or her life rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ. We must pray for the convicting mercy and grace of God for our children. Until we come under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, repent of our sin, turn to Christ and seen Him as savior and redeemer we are not saved. It is one of the greatest blessing a child can have to be born to believing parents but unless those children are born again they will never see the kingdom of heaven. The onus on us as parents and this body that we look to our Spiritual condition and not play around with sin, is so much greater because we have been blessed stewardship of so many little ones. Matthew 18:5 "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
As Spurgeon said “train up a child up in the way he should go but be sure that you go that way yourself” Our children know what our lives really look like…..
We see the turning point in Judas’ life in Matthew 26:6 Joshua walked us through this passage at the beginning of April so I won’t go into detail. Let’s look at Judas here.
“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Judas to Betray Jesus
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.”
This takes place right after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In fact, we are told that Lazarus is at the table with Jesus. Judas determines to betray Jesus at a table with a man whom Jesus raised from the dead. This is unbelievable!!! I’m going to pull a few details from John account in John 12. Judas and the disciples see a woman, in John we are told it is Mary, anoint the head and feet of Jesus with expensive ointment worth a year’s wages and they are indignant. John gives us a little more information that is not found here, in John 12:4 “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
Notice a few things. Here John attributes the objection to Judas alone. I think this indicates that Judas was the one who started it. Judas was the original objector and the other disciples followed his lead and likewise objected. This is the power of influence. Judas, hardened by his greed, objects to Mary’s beautiful act of worship and the other disciples, who might have otherwise remained silent, join in. We also see Judas here not only covetous, but also a lair. He doesn’t care about the poor. If this ointment had been sold and Judas had been given the money the poor would have seen very little of it.
John gives us two reasons for Judas raising this objection. The one stated directly is that Judas was a thief. We are not told how much money Judas stole. To my way of thinking, the frase “used to help himself to what was put into it” His theft may not have been that much. A little here and there, but theft none the less. Judas’ criticism of Jesus was most likely calculated to justify his sin. “Look at this guy, allowing a year’s wages to be wasted on himself! He deserves to be robbed!”
The implied reason is given at the outset John 12:4 “But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him)” Judas was already working through the idea of betraying Jesus. They are on their way to Jerusalem. Judas has had enough. Jesus is not the messiah he is looking for. Most likely Judas, like many Jews of the day, wanted a Messiah to overthrow the Romans. If Jesus was the man to do that than being in his inner circle would be a good thing. But Jesus is not living up to Judas’ plan so he goes to the chief priests and asks what he can get to betray him. Thirty pieces of silver – the price of a slave.
Now Judas was locked into the plan to betray the sinless lamb of God. Not only did he have the indwelling sin of covetousness and his ongoing theft, but now he was premeditatedly going to betray an innocent man. All sin is evil. When the servant girl walked up to Peter and asked him if he knew Jesus and he lied it was sin, it was evil, but it was not premeditated. Premeditated sin festers and rots away at you from the inside. It taints everything you do. This is the natural course of sin that is allowed to operate within us.
This was unrepentant sin. Judas should have known that he was a false convert that he was a child of the devil because of his theft. He knew the commandment “do not steal” - Leviticus 19:11 says “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another” Judas had no excuse.
It is such a fearful thing to sit under the correction of the Word of God and the light of the gospel and reject the teaching that God has for you. Judas was with Christ, he was on the inside, he was connected, he had direct access to Christ, he heard the messages, he felt the power, he saw the miracles he witnessed the grace, he beheld the glory and he was sent out to minister to the world on Christ’s behalf. He was not a bench warmer, he was involved and serving on behalf of the master.
Does sin have a stronghold in your life? The law of sin operates the same way in a Christian as it does in an unbeliever. It always entices to evil. But in an unbeliever sin has dominion. The lost cannot do anything but sin. In a Christian that dominion has been broken by the death, burial, resurrection, regeneration, and sanctifying work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. We have been freed from the law of sin and death and are able to now yield our members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Are you at war with sin or are you at peace? The war against sin is a fight we wage every day. Romans 8:13 say “.. if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” John Owen sums this passage up this way “Do you mortify, (“put to death”) do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you”
We see Judas in the upper room with Jesus and the twelve. Jesus solemnly announces that one of them will betray Him. Matthew 26:24 “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born. Judas, who would betray him, answered, “is it I, Lord? He said to him, “You have said so.” Judas must have stopped cold at these words. Not because he cared what Jesus said but because he thought he was discovered. Perhaps he felt trapped. He had the thirty pieces of silver. He had to go through with it. Judas wasn’t planning on betraying Jesus that night Jesus steps up his timeframe. In John 13:27 we are told “Then Satan entered him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.””
Judas is not an innocent person that Satan dominates. There are no innocent people!
Judas does as he is instructed and gets a group of soldiers, returning to Jesus in the garden and betraying Him with a kiss. Jesus is taken before the chief priests and elders and is condemned with false witnesses and illegal proceedings.
- Realization and repentance vs 3
3 Matthew 27:3 “Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind”
What had Judas been thinking? Somehow, he had rationalized betraying Jesus for money, but not betraying Him to His death at the hands of the Romans. Maybe he thought that the chief priests would not be able to find any fault with him? After all Judas had been with him for over three years and says in the next verse that he is innocent. Maybe, knowing that the Jews didn’t have the right to execute people, he thought Jesus would get off with a warning, a flogging, or some jail time. He could justify his lies and betrayal but he could not justify the murder of an innocent man. Notice that it is not the fact that he has sinned that causes him to repent but the result of his sin. It is because the outcome is worse than he imagined it would be.
Judas thought he could take sin so far, but not further. He was deceived! He sat under the teaching of Jesus but did not hear. In John 8 Jesus, dealing with men who like Judas professed to believe in him, explained the nature of the soul under sin. Turn with me to John 8:31-44
John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”
Slaves serve masters and masters decide what the slaves do.
In the context, Jesus is talking to men who are said to “believe in Him”
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Verbal assent is not enough. True disciples will abide in the Word of Christ. The Word of Christ will be their rock, their home, the place they go for answers.
The Jews are offended at the idea that they are slaves. They like Judas do not understand the law of sin.
33 They answered him, "We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, 'You will become free'?"
34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
Jesus points them to their deepest problem. Everyone who sins is a slave of sin.
35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father."
Here Jesus is speaking of the great divide that separates all human beings. There is no middle ground. In vs 44 He goes on “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him.” Either we are children of God or we are the children of the devil. Now don’t misunderstand this. These Jews that Jesus was speaking to did not get up in the morning get on their knees and ask Satan what they should do that day. They just did whatever they wanted to. Judas just wanted the Messiah to overthrow the Romans. Judas just wanted to have a little extra money now and again and to see some lasting benefit from following Jesus around for 3 years. That is what Judas wanted but what Judas got was complicity in murder of God. He became a liar and a traitor. He deceived and was deceived. This was because he wasn’t ultimately serving himself as he thought, he was actually serving Satan who was a murderer. And when Satan was done with him he had him murder himself. Every lie and every murder that has ever been perpetrated on this earth have direct links back to their father the Devil. Children take on the likeness of their fathers. His desires are their desires. The hands, feet, eyes, ears, heart, mind, and will, of the children of Satan are to do their fathers will. So, though Judas’ intention was only to make a little money off of his relationship with Jesus, because he was of the Devil he became the instigator of the most wicked murder in history.
Apart from Christ, our hearts are evil. We know from Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. Desperately wicked! For the unsaved individual, his deceitful heart will always excuse or distract from his sin. When the Word of God is taught, he will be thinking of other things when he reads his Bible, if he reads his Bible, he will be constantly thinking about how what he reads applies to other people or he will not be paying attention at all. Do not miss one of the main points of the story of Judas, there are false believers hiding in the visible body of Christ. As Jesus was betrayed so we will be betrayed by false professors who slip in to spy out the freedom that we have in Christ. No amount of Christian upbringing, church going, good doing, accurate theology hearing will stand as a substitute for true repentance and faith. But, we are called NOT to find out who they are but examine ourselves and take care lest we should be one of them. James 5:16 tells us to “confess your sins to one another” What would have changed in the story of Judas if he had confessed his theft to Jesus or the other disciples? Can there be any doubt that he would have been restored and forgiven? (Albeit without the money bag) Maybe you’ve asked yourself this question. Am I truly saved? Could I be a Judas? I remember from my own experience as a false convert that there were good days to ask that question and then there were really bad days. Days you have no worries at all and days that you shake with the fear hell. But even on the best days I had the feeling that something was wrong. I remember listening intently in Sunday services hoping the pastor would describe my exact situation and then tell me what to do to get rid of this uneasiness. It was a feeling in the back of my mind that something was not quite right.
If I had been thinking consistently through all the teaching I had received and applying it to my life there would have been no question about it. Like Judas, there was unrepentant sin in my life. My prayer today is that if you are a false believer, you would hear this point and look to your life. Believers do not tolerate indwelling, ongoing, unrepentant sin in their life. This is not a feature of their own prowess in sanctification but of the promise of the Holy Spirit. We know the sin we have in our lives because the Holy Spirit through the Word points it out to us and does not take His finger of conviction off of us until it is dealt with. But for the unbeliever this is not the case. The unbeliever will not only will carry on in sin but cannot do anything other than sin all his days. Although there may be false repentance drummed up by the fear of hell, or false victory brought about by sociological tricks or sheer determination that unsaved soul will only add to its previous debt the sins of self-righteousness, self-reliance, and pride. Do you do you know that you are truly saved? Do you harbor unrepentant sin?
When I think back to the out of control anger, blasphemy, unrestrained lust, pornography, ingratitude, disobedience, theft, lack of compassion, and the depraved imaginations that characterized my personal experience as a hypocrite and a God hater in the church and in a Christian home I recoil in horror that I could have ever asked the question “am I truly saved” The answer was so obviously NO! OF COURSE, YOU ARE NOT SAVED!!! It is a testament to the deceptive power of an evil unbelieving heart.
True believers, true disciples abide in the Word of Christ and are free from the bondage of sin! I am not talking about sinless perfection! Christians are free from the bondage of sin. We are not slaves to it! Far from being under sin’s dominion we wage war against its dominion. We are the enemies of sin and sin is our enemy.
As we look at Judas's sin, betrayal and death we should remember that the true masters of Judas, sin and Satan, are still active today and want nothing less than then our deception and destruction. Here we should not only see Judas' betrayal of Jesus but sin's betrayal of Judas to his death. We should see sin for what it is. It’s every whisper a lie, and every enticement a counterfeit.
- The reaction of a guilty conscience vs 3-5
Matthew 27:3 “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, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood."”
The world has fallen in on Judas. He was in this life for himself, for what he could get out of it. Now his conscience would no longer excuse him. He felt the guilt of innocent blood on his hands. What does he do?
He has come to some sort of realization of his own sinfulness, what should he do?
He brings back the silver to the chief priests and elders and we hear the cry of the heart hardened against God “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
It is the right diagnosis! They were the right words. Judas’ hardened, battered and abused conscience had sputtered to life here at the end. The conscience that God has emblazoned with his law to restrain the evil of men’s hearts summoned all its strength to do its job one last time. But all it accomplished was to create an emotional remorse. There was no true repentance in Judas’ heart. Hardened by his sin Judas hated and rejected Jesus to the end.
The false repentance of an unbeliever can sometimes be mistaken for true repentance. If this was a true repentance it would not be solely concerned with Jesus’ condemnation but also his whole life of sin from the first coin he stole to the last lie he told. Judas’ conscience was accustomed to these sins and consequentially gave him no great amount of grief over them. This is the nature of sin. When we are first exposed to a new sin our conscience and will are roused and we resolve against it to never do it again. But in the case of unbelievers or unwary Christians that resolution wanes and sin returns stronger than ever. Having secured more ground, it presses on to more and more sin, till it is halted by renewed efforts, or it reaches its full potential of wickedness.
In the case of the betrayal of Jesus it was the full potential of wickedness.
“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, 4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.”
The priests do not care about Judas’ remorse. They throw his confession back in his face and refuse to touch the money. Judas throws the silver into the temple sanctuary where only the priests are allowed to go thus forcing them to handle it. Then he goes and hangs himself.
Judas returned the money to try and assuage his conscience. But his interaction with the priests no doubt punctuated how forsaken he was. Judas was entirely alone. He had betrayed his master to death, alienated his fellow apostles and was despised and rejected by the very priests and elders that were his co-conspirators. This is where Judas’ lies and sin had brought him. What where those lies? “If you deceive these men to better your position you will be happier.” “What you need is a little more money” Whatever they were there was one more that Judas believed.
- His self-murder end of vs 5
5 “he departed, and he went and hanged himself.”
Suicide. The intentional ending of your own life.
To commit suicide to alleviate a guilty conscience is a horrifying prospect because it is miscalculated. Suicide does not relieve guilt it makes guilt permanent. Guilt is to your spirit what pain is to your body.
We can’t know what was in the mind of Judas. But this was a sinful end to a sinful life. Suicide cannot be justified. It is self-murder and thus breaks the 6th commandment. It is always a selfish action. We are surrounded by a culture of death that increasingly wants to grade human life on a sliding scale of value. In Canada abortion was decriminalized in 1968 and suicide in 1972 under Pierre Eliot Trudeau. Physician assisted suicide became legal in June of last year under Justine Trudeau. In the last 45 years, global suicide rates have increased by an estimated 60%. The fasted growing group being children 18 and younger. The World Health Organization estimates that one million people commit suicide every year. That is one every 40 seconds. They also state that by 2020 they expect this to increase to one every 20 seconds. In Canada, the ratio of suicide to homicide is 9 to 1. Nine more people commit suicide then are killed by each other.
If all you can see is darkness. If all you can see is your sin. If you despair of life. You’re seeing the world the way Satan sees it. Despair is for Hell. Let those who are condemned despair. You are alive! Your life is being intentionally sustained by God. Turn to Jesus Christ! Jesus knows where you are. He knows your heart. He knows your sin. He cares for your pain. His mercy endures forever! His love is everlasting! HE WILL NOT TURN AWAY ANYONE WHO CALLS ON HIM! He became a man, He knew hunger, was acquainted with grief, He’s called a man of sorrows, He was mocked and ridiculed, and spat on and beaten. He was betrayed, and judged unjustly. He experienced ever level of grief and suffering to a greater degree than any man ever has! The filth and wickedness and sin and wrath that Jesus bore on the cross was greater than any finite creature will ever comprehend! HE HAS PAID THE PRICE ONCE FOR ALL! IT IS FINISHED!
If you struggle with thoughts of suicide, turn to Jesus Christ! And confess your struggle to someone. We are told to confess our sins to one another. Let somebody know! Anyone who loves Jesus Christ wants you to step back from suicide. Anyone who loves Jesus Christ will listen to you and love you! Whatever you believe that makes you think that suicide is the answer is a lie. Don’t end your life on a falsehood.
“It’s a feature of Christian grace to live patiently till God’s time for our dying comes by irrespective of whatever painful circumstances may be ours, and also it is a feature of Christian grace that the child of God submits to death quietly and meekly unresistingly when God’s time for our departure approaches even if we are in the midst of the most pleasant circumstances.” ~ Rev. Ivan Foster
We are to submit to God’s will. With Paul, we should wish to say “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” To live even in the most difficult circumstances or to die in the middle of a “good life”
Peter had the sins of pride, self-reliance and little faith. He bore false witness when he denied knowing the Lord three times. We read in Luke 22:60 But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about." And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times." 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.
What was the full account in Luke? In Luke 22:31 we read.
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
Turn to Christ today,
Judas is the greatest example of someone coming close to the kingdom of God and yet remaining unsaved. He is the most glaring illustration of religious hypocrisy. Judas goes to hell having spent that last years of his life walking and talking with the doorway to heaven. He had an infallible sinless instructor and still rejected his teaching. Judas sinned against the purest knowledge. He saw lepers healed, the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the mute speak and the dead raised to life. He saw and bore witness to Jesus’ innocence and yet rejected and betrayed him to his death. Judas sinned against the clearest revelation of the Father that any man has ever received and descended into hell forever. Judas was an imposter, a counterfeit believer, a false convert. He was a part of the twelve for his own personal gain. He professed Christ but did not know him, had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof, he knew about Christ but did not believe in Him. Because he did not believe that Jesus was the I AM he died in his sin. Judas stands as a clarion call to all men and women who profess to know Jesus Christ to do what we are commanded to do in 2 Cor 13:5 and examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. The story of Judas undoubtedly serves as one of the strongest warnings of the danger of harboring unrepentant sin in our lives. In it we see indwelling unrepentant sin give birth to divisive contentious idolatry, leading to the most spectacular, cold hearted and calculated betrayal of the sinless Son of God, followed by false repentance and self-murder. Listen to the instruction of Heb 3:12 and "take care lest there be in any of us an evil unbelieving heart leading us to fall away from the living God.
The Gospel of Matthew is a story about a once and coming King. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of David, the long awaited for Messiah. He has come once, and Matthew tells the story of His arrival, ministry, sacrificial atoning work on the cross, and His promise to return soon.