15th July 2023
Read (Matthew 27v1-10)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
Amazingly the names of some of the Apostles have crept into everyday speech. To the man who isn’t convinced we often say that he is a “doubting Thomas” and to the woman who betrays us we often describe her as a “Judas”. Between you and me I would rather be a Thomas than a Judas.
To this day the name of Judas Iscariot is synonymous with betrayal and deceit. But what do we know about Judas Iscariot? Not very much, but we can be reasonably sure that he is the only disciple who did not come from the region of Galilee. Additionally, within the twelve he performed the role of treasurer. Judas also bears the name Iscariot which separates him from the other Judas who is more commonly known as Thaddaeus.
There has been plenty of discussion over the meaning of Iscariot. Most likely it describes where Judas has come from. Isacriot means “man of Kerioth” which is a region of Judea (Joshua 15v25). However some have suggested that Iscariot comes from an Aramaic term meaning “false one” with others suggesting that Isacriot comes from a Latin term meaning “assassin”.
Both suggestions would suit Judas Iscariot well. John tells us that even before the betrayal of Christ, Judas wasn’t to be trusted. Judas complained about Mary wasting expensive ointment saying “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12v5) But Judas had no concern for the poor. John explains the motives behind Judas ’ statement “ Judas 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.” (John 12v6)
So Judas, the man of Kerioth, was a thief and was the man who would betray Christ. He is an utterly tragic figure. As Jesus made His way to Pilate (v2), Judas was filled with regret and brought his thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders (v3). Iscariot had come to realise his sin and understood the innocence of Jesus (v4). Nevertheless, the ruling authorities saw this as Judas' own problem not theirs and curtly responded “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” (v4).
How did Judas see to it himself? There is no evidence of his repentance but instead he went and took his own life by hanging (v5). The chief priests followed Deuteronomy 23v18 and refused to put Judas' "blood money" into the treasury and so they bought "the potter's field" which was then used as a graveyard for foreigners, bringing fulfilment to Zechariah 11v12-13.
In Acts 1v8-10, Luke addresses this event by saying "(Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)"
It seems difficult at first glance to harmonise these two accounts but let me suggest the following. The field was bought by the chief priests with Judas' "blood money", therefore the field can rightly be described as both "Judas' field" and "the Field of Blood". Furthermore, there is a suggestion that this same field was where Judas hung himself. Perhaps Judas heard what had been done with his money and chose the field as the appropriate place for his death? It appears that Judas hung himself, his body remained unburied and eventually it rotted, fell and burst open in the field set aside for foreigners. The field bought with blood money was watered by the blood of an enemy of God.
The story of Judas is written for our instruction and it is an incredibly tragic tale. We can only imagine the things that he saw and the things that he heard. Judas walked and talked with Jesus! He spent hours with Christ! He spent years with Christ! Yet when push came to shove this same Judas went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”
Judas loved money more than he loved Christ and so “the betrayer” turned Jesus over to wicked men for just 30 pieces of silver. I once talked to an old man who had visited Israel many times. He talked vividly about the magnitude of his experience and he would always tell me that as he walked the streets of Jerusalem it was so easy to imagine where Jesus had been. Judas didn’t have to imagine, he saw with his own eyes and yet rejected Christ regardless. This generation is not hard done by because we haven’t physically seen Jesus. Indeed the Lord once told Thomas “Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20v29) Dear Christian, today you do not see but know that one day, with your own eyes, you will see Jesus. He will not betray you, nor will he leave you ashamed. But to the one who rejects Christ...repent for the hour of His return is at hand. Do something with the Word you have heard. Do something with the sermons you have sat under. Do not allow yourself to walk Iscariot’s path - hearing Christ yet rejecting Him and slowly making your way to Hell. To the thief, the betrayer, the liar, the sinner...Jesus calls you to be saved. Repent and believe the Gospel!
Q99 What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer? The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called, The Lord’s Prayer.