Blindly Following Prophecy: Matthew 27:1-10

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While none of the 12 disciples grasped Jesus’ statements regarding His upcoming betrayal and crucifixion, one in particular was completely blinded by his preconceived ideas about Jesus that he didn’t realize his role in the process until it was too late. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who had determined to betray Jesus, had seen Jesus outwit and out maneuver the religious leaders more times than he likely could count, and because of this, I imagine Judas believed Jesus would do it again.

However, the only way this belief works is if Judas simply ignored all of Jesus’ statements about His upcoming death while they were headed towards Jerusalem. Even the gift of perfume, which had sparked Judas’ anger when Jesus challenged him on it, was attributed to anointing Jesus for burial. There were so many warnings, signs, and predictions Judas simply discounted or ignored, that when he realized what happened, and what he had done, it was too late.

Matthew’s gospel describes Judas’ response when realizing his mistake. Let’s read this passage together and discover what happened, what Judas tried to do, and what we can learn about the religious leaders at this point of the first century. Our passage is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 27, and we will be reading it from the God’s Word translation. Starting in verse 1, Matthew tells us that:

Early in the morning all the chief priests and the leaders of the people decided to execute Jesus. They tied him up, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

Then Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, regretted what had happened when he saw that Jesus was condemned. He brought the 30 silver coins back to the chief priests and leaders. He said, “I’ve sinned by betraying an innocent man.”

They replied, “What do we care? That’s your problem.”

So he threw the money into the temple, went away, and hanged himself.

The chief priests took the money and said, “It’s not right to put it into the temple treasury, because it’s blood money.” So they decided to use it to buy a potter’s field for the burial of strangers. That’s why that field has been called the Field of Blood ever since. Then what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true, “They took the 30 silver coins, the price the people of Israel had placed on him, 10 and used the coins to buy a potter’s field, as the Lord had directed me.”

All throughout this passage, we see prophecy being fulfilled. Whether all the parties involved realized they were fulfilling prophecy at the time is debatable, but at least in the case of the religious leaders, they would have been the ones who clearly should have seen it. The religious leaders set the price of 30 silver coins, and the religious leaders purchased a potter’s field with the money. All of this was written hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.

Perhaps the religious leaders didn’t care if they fulfilled some prophecy because they believed Jesus didn’t fulfill all the prophecies. In their minds, 90% of prophecies wasn’t good enough. Only 100% of their interpretation would do. What they didn’t realize is that Jesus didn’t come to fulfill 100% of their interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies. Instead, Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies about the Messiah’s first appearance, and some of the Old Testament prophecies would remain reserved for future fulfillment – specifically when Jesus returns as King.

However, this isn’t the only big thing we see when looking at this passage. It is also interesting that while Judas Iscariot realized the error of his ways, the religious leaders remain completely blinded of their own faults – except that they acknowledge that Judas did in fact betray innocent blood.

Judas returned the money, perhaps hoping that it would free Jesus. Judas acknowledged that he sinned. He confessed to the religious leaders his mistake. If the religious leaders had been living according to God’s will for their position, they might have had sympathy or a more loving response for someone who appeared to be repentant who was asking for forgiveness.

However, the religious leaders respond by saying in verse 4, “What do we care? That’s your problem.

Judas threw the money back at them, before leaving and committing suicide. This is where the religious leaders are blind on multiple levels. While they don’t acknowledge or care that they use the money to buy a potter’s field to bury strangers in, which had been predicted, they do acknowledge the money was tainted and it shouldn’t be put into the temple treasury. By acknowledging that the money was not clean, the religious leaders incriminate themselves because they were the ones who made the money dirty in the first place by using it to pay for an innocent Man’s betrayal.

Also, the religious leaders ignore the detail that the money likely came out of the temple treasury when they gave it to Judas. Even if the group of religious leaders all contributed a little of their personal wealth, that wealth was probably paid for by the temple treasury, or at least from the offerings of the people. Because of this, we can logically conclude that Jesus’ betrayal was paid for with God’s money.

However, the money not only financed Jesus’ betrayal, but also the purchase of a field to bury strangers who had died. This is fascinating in my mind because in a very subtle way, the two ways the religious leaders use these 30 pieces of silver speak to their ignorance of who Jesus was. The religious leaders use God’s money in preparation for killing Someone they don’t truly know, and they pay for a field to bury those who have died that they don’t really know.

If the religious leaders believed Jesus to have been God’s Messiah, they wouldn’t have betrayed or rejected Him, but they chose to reject Jesus because He didn’t fit their view of God. In a similar way, we should be wary of creating our own picture of who God is.

The religious leaders had a picture of God and of His Messiah that they viewed the world through, and it caused them to miss the true Messiah when Jesus actually came. They missed out because Jesus didn’t fit their picture. If we create a picture of God that we then expect Him to fit Himself into, we will also likely be disappointed if/when He decides to do something contrary to our beliefs or ideas.

Instead, we should intentionally focus on God with an open mind, and let Him lead us on the path He wants us to follow, and if—or when—something happens that we don’t understand, we reserve judgment until we are able to ask God in person when we reach heaven. When we reach heaven, we will better be able to understand what happened in our own lives, and we will be able to get clearer answers for the questions that seemed unanswered in this life.

As we come to the close of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Always intentionally seek God first and put Jesus first in your life. Avoid making a picture, box, or framework that you expect God to fit into, because He is bigger than our thoughts can imagine, and He has a much bigger perspective than we are capable of understanding.

Also, be sure to always pray and study the Bible for yourself in order to grow your own personal relationship with God. While listening to a pastor or a podcast can be helpful, if you aren’t personally reading the Bible regularly, you are missing out on the relationship with God that He wants you to have with Him. Personal study leads to a personal relationship.

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or give up on where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Year 4 – Episode 46: When Judas throws the bribe money back at the religious leaders before committing suicide, we are able to discover some amazing things about both the betrayer and those behind his betrayal. Above most other things is the simple detail that all this was predicted many centuries earlier, and it was fulfilled by people who should have seen it coming.

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