Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed.2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
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.”[a]
Judas Hangs Himself
A person can be consumed with the thought that they are doing a good thing, and that they are justified only to be horrified when they find that they are wrong. Judas may have simply been possessed by Satan. Not having fully bought into the discipleship role laid out by Jesus, Judas advances himself by taking on the financial responsibilities of the disciples. Judas is a disciple who is not completely devoted to the pursuit of Jesus and so he can be enticed and possessed by Satan to pursue his purposes.
Alternatively Judas can see that the Kingdom of God isn’t quite what he thought it was. When the disciples thought that Jesus was the Messiah they seem to have had a conquering king in mind. Jesus shows himself as a destroyer of temple tradition without an army to back him up. Judas may have been a temple sympathizer. Judas may have thought Jesus went too far by putting himself clearly in the role of focal point of a new religious order. If Judas was disgusted with Jesus’ treatment of the temple, he would have easily sided with the Pharisees who were devoted to God and proud and outraged.
Watching a person suffer excruciating torture because of what we have done can reverse our sensibilities in an instant. As the punishment and fate of Jesus unfolds Judas must have realised what he had done. Perhaps Satan in a wicked act of glee left Judas in his ‘right’ mind to see all that he had accomplished. Lacking Satanic motivation, his human spirit self-destructed. Or he saw that Jesus accepted his fate and walked toward the end that he had already predicted. There are many ways that Judas could have realised, with horror, what he had done.
Judas is not an improbable character who lacks motive. On the contrary any of us could have cultivated a heart that is so quick to change for many motives. The Bible allows Judas to be a warning to every would-be disciple by not fully disclosing his motives or his reasons for such fervent regret. I am thankful I was not one of the 12. In retrospect it is good not to have had the possibility of being Judas.
As a young man, depressed and unstable it can be easy to see death as an answer. I believe that hanging here refers to impaling. Judas falls headlong onto a spear, sharp stick, or sword and his guts spill out. He pronounces judgement on himself because he believes he can not receive God’s grace. His judgement is accurate. We all deserve such a death. However, grace is sufficient to give us all what we don’t deserve. Judas could have repented if his story had gone on any longer. As Jesus forgave Peter for denying him, I believe that he could have forgiven Judas for betraying him. However, Judas was lost in his own mind and he thought he closed the book right there. He ended it.
However, the horror of his ending was just the beginning of the horror of his eternal fate. Forever he abides in Gehenna and it would have been better for him if he had not been born. I pray that my faith will endure and show itself to be true. I pray that darkness, deceit and despair will not come down upon me like night. I pray that I will awake to the Light after my death and not to an eternal darkness that uncovers the unforgiven horror of my corrupt soul.
- What is the motive for Judas’ suicide?
- Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus in the first place?
- Why are we told of Judas’ suicide?
- Why do some people take the death of Judas as proof that the Bible is poor fiction?
- How does the death of Judas warn those who think they follow Jesus?