Today there are many people who claim to be a believer in Jesus, while their words and behavior indicates otherwise. These persons are recognizable by the disunity they cause in the Body of Christ. They deny the literal meaning of the scriptures and twist them for their own purposes. In public forums they ridicule other Christians and refer to them by disparaging names not fitting for a true follower of Jesus.
I came to a knowledge of who Jesus is in April of 1975. While touring with a successful Rock band and becoming increasingly discourage by that lifestyle, I began to search for something more fulfilling. I opened a New Testament and began to read about the life of Jesus and was immediately impressed by Him as a man. I had never seen a person like Jesus in the world that I was living. I had never heard anyone speak the words of love and kindness to people that I saw Jesus speaking.
In those early days of my new relationship with Jesus, it was the emblem of love and unity amongst believers that was most attractive to me. Believers during that time were known for the love they showed each other. It was this unconditional love that we had for one another that attracted many others to follow Jesus themselves.
Today I rarely see this common bond of love amongst those who claim to follow and love Jesus in public forums. I spend a great deal of time writing and publishing work that will encourage and help people to discover who Jesus is and to follow Him more closely. Because I write every day, I also have correspondence with people in public forums such as Twitter, Facebook, and my own website. Not a day goes by that I am not shocked by the language and behavior of people who claim to belong to Jesus.
The primary area of concern for me is in the relationships that Christians have with each other. Often on Twitter I see persons who look as though they love Jesus, showing great disrespect and lack of love for others who also say they love Jesus. This should not be. At the very foundation of our relationship with Christ is a kindness and love for those who also love the Lord.
We should never argue or disparage another Christian in a public setting. If we find there are matters that need to be discussed, it should take place privately out of the view of the public (Matthew 18). We can email, talk on the phone, or text each other and work out our differences privately. When we argue and say unkind or unnecessary words in public where people who do not know Christ can see these words, we bring disrepute upon Christ and hurt His effectiveness in the world. People should see Christians agreeing together, finding commonality in their thoughts and our love as it is expressed in the kindness we show to each other. When non-believers see this kind of love exhibited it will draw them to Christ.
There are also persons who are on public forums who claim to know Jesus who are pretend or false believers. They make comments that look as though they are a believer, but then condemn and criticize other Christians who disagree with them. When they say things that are unkind or in conflict with scripture and are corrected, they turn an attack the persons who seek to reason with them. These persons are very likely not a true follower of Jesus, or at the very least, a very immature believer.
Another recent principle I have learned from Twitter is that there are atheists who are masquerading as Christians. They place Christian text on their Twitter feed to make others think they are a believer, but then spend their time arguing with Christians as an alleged Christian. They do this for the purpose of creating confusion and disunity amongst Christians.
When attacked by one of these persons, for the sake of Christ, it is best not to argue with them in a public setting. Invite this person to a private debate so that you might work out differences that may exist. If this person refuses a private exchange, this is an indication that they are seeking public praise for their words and not to exalt Christ or find fellowship with other believers. In these matters it is better to have no further conversations with people who seek only their own edification.
Content Of This Essay
In this essay we will explore the failure of Judas Iscariot and the reasons why he betrayed Jesus. We will learn that there are true believers in Jesus and there are false believers (Matthew 13:24-30). We will learn that evidence does not compel anyone to believe in Jesus and the heart is the real motivator for all things in human life.
Finally, we will examine the incredible prophecies that predicted six specific events that the prophets said Judas would do, a thousand years before he was born.
Judas Iscariot And His Errors
When we read of the criticism that Judas made regarding Mary, and how he ridiculed her for using expensive ointment to anoint Jesus, this becomes a vivid example of the false believer.
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. ~John 12:3-6 (NLT)
After Judas said these words, we read in Matthew and Mark, that the other disciples joined in with Judas in condemning Mary for her act of love towards Jesus (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). One of the hazards of criticizing another Christian in a public setting is that other Christians may join in and make matters much worse. These are acts of immature believers, not fitting those who know and love Jesus.
At the time that Judas rebukes Mary, the other disciples didn’t know the true character of Judas. When he criticized Mary, it likely sounded very spiritual and this is why the others joined Judas in condemning Mary. We learn later that the true reason Judas scolded Mary was because he had been stealing money from the treasury used to provide the needs of Jesus and His disciples (John 12:6).
Judas Was A Part Of Jesus’ Ministry
Judas was called by Jesus to follow Him and become a part of His ministry. Judas was an Apostle chosen by God to witness all that Jesus said and did (Mark 3:13-19). It is certain that Jesus had given Judas the power to heal the sick in order to prove that Jesus was the true Messiah (Matthew 10:1-4, Matthew 7:21-29).
Although Judas walked with Jesus and saw all that He did, he was not a true believer. This is evidence for us today that there may be many people who claim to be true followers of Jesus; saying the right things; doing the right things; but lacking a true heart to love Jesus and obey Him. It is possible to go to church, pay a tithe, served in the church, even become a missionary or teach others the Bible, while not being a true follower of Jesus. How can this happen? How could someone come to know who Jesus is and partake of all His goodness, but not really be a true believer? We will see in Judas how this can happen.
Washed But Not Cleansed
Jesus came to the disciples with a bowl of water and a towel to wash their feet, in John 13:10-11. Judas was there on that day and Jesus washed his feet along with the other men who were present. Like false believers today, they are often present with true believers and experience all that the Lord is doing. Like Judas, these persons are a part of the group but not one of them.
Judas’s criticism of Mary is one of the first indications that his heart was not right towards God. Criticizing other Christians or arguing with them so as to be found right instead of seeking fellowship and agreement, is a clear sign of the false believer.
Jesus corrects Judas by saying that Mary had chosen the correct path, not Judas. Mary was content to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him. She loved the Lord so much that she just wanted to be with Him and listen to His every word. Judas was interested in politics, possessions, and pestering those whom he viewed as wasting money that he wanted to use for personal gain.
Judas criticism caused the other disciples to join him and attack Mary. Only by Jesus’ defense of Mary were the others who heard Judas, corrected. In this we see the danger of people who bring disunity into the fellowship of believers. When some people hear the criticisms of the false believer, they often join them and become a part of destroying the unity of Jesus’ church.
Judas did not understand the simple and devoted love that Mary had for Jesus. Later, Mary’s friends and neighbors misunderstood Mary when she came out of the house to meet Jesus after Lazarus had been buried (John 11:28-31).
People who are true believers in Jesus are always misunderstood by false believers. They don’t understand the simple love and devotion that the true believer has for Jesus because they don’t have this love themselves. What Jesus desires most is the kind of Love that Mary showed Him, not biblical knowledge, correct procedures, or busy activity. These things are also important matters, but not nearly as important as just loving Jesus and being content to sit at His feet and listen to Him.
Not All Are Cleansed
When Jesus washed the feet of the disciples He said that not all of them were cleansed of their sins. He was speaking of Judas. Jesus said that when these men had come to Him and were willing to turn from their old life of sin and begin to follow Him, they were cleansed of their sins and became clean. The cleansing of water when Jesus washed their feet was an example of how the true followers of Jesus pick up the filth of this world when they walk in it each day, and by confession of sin, Jesus washes our feet and we can continue in fellowship with Him (1 John 1). Those who are cleansed of their sins by Jesus, only need to have their feet washed of the world’s filth each day.
Jesus knew that this had not happened for Judas. He had not been sorry for his sins enough to turn from them and fully commit himself to Jesus as the Lord of his life. The disciples could not see this, but Jesus could. We will not be able to see who is truly a believer in Jesus and who is not. Jesus said this is not our job to try and figure out the true believer from the false. He said that when He returns He will instruct the angels to sort out the true from the false.
That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous. ~Matthew 13:49 (NLT)
Our assignment as Jesus’ followers, is to love everyone who professes faith in Jesus. We don’t know who the true and false believers are. Even if a person is a false believer, by our love for them, they may become a true believer.’
How Could Judas Betray Jesus?
We might wonder how Judas could see the miracles that Jesus performed; the resurrection of Lazarus; walking on water; turning water into wine, and still not believe. Many people today have the idea that if enough evidence is presented to non-believers, they will believe in Jesus. This has never been true because evidence is not the barrier to faith—lack of desire to believe is the barrier. People simply choose not to believe, and this is why they do not believe. There is no amount of evidence that can convince a person who does not want to be convinced. There is no lack of evidence that can prevent a person who wants to know the truth.
One of the most stunning scriptures in the New Testament is the text that describes those who actually saw Jesus perform supernatural works of healing, raising the dead, and turning water into wine, but still did not believe in Him.
But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:
“Lord, who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?”
But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said,
“The Lord has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts—
so that their eyes cannot see,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and have me heal them.” ~John 12:37-40
It is interesting that the Prophet Isaiah predicted this very thing, nearly 700 years before Jesus arrived. John includes Isaiah’s prophecy of widespread rejection of Jesus as additional proof that He is the true Messiah.
I have conducted extensive sessions with non-believers where I provided considerable evidence that proves God exists, and Jesus is God. Despite this evidence, most people will still never believe.
What we do know for certain is that Judas was no victim of circumstances who got caught up in the tragedy of Jesus death. Long before Judas was born, or Jesus had come to earth, the prophets predicted Judas betrayal and every event that took place afterwards.
Six Prophecies Predicted Judas Betrayal
Amongst the most stunning of the 400 Prophecies of the Messiah, is the betrayal of the Messiah by a close friend. In each subsequent part of this total story, we will see how each prophecy is developed by the predictions before.
Keep in mind that these are six separate prophecies, which detail this entire event. The first three, from the Psalms, were written by David 1,000 years before Jesus was born. The second three, from Zechariah, were written 500 years before Jesus was born.
- Psalm 41:9: Betrayed by a close friend, who ate bread with Him.
- Psalm 55:12-14: One who is a part of His ministry.
- Psalm 109:6-9: He will be replaced by another.
- Zechariah 11:12: Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.
- Zechariah 11:13a: Money paid was later used to purchase a potter’s field.
- Zechariah 11:13b: The price paid was returned, thrown into the house of the Lord.
How could two men, David and Zechariah, who did not know each other, who lived 500 years apart in history, write a concise and uniform story about the Messiah that describes precisely what happened to Jesus?
- Judas betrayed Jesus.
- He was a part of Jesus’ ministry.
- He was replaced by Matthias.
- Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver.
- Judas killed himself; the money was used to buy a potter’s field.
- Judas went into the Temple to return the money; it was refused, and he threw it into the house of the Lord.
Betrayed By A Friend
Psalms 40:14 gives us the details of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane. Psalms 41:9 adds an additional detail; it will be a close friend who will betray Messiah, one who ate bread with Him. Both of these Psalms were originally written by David in response to his betrayal by Ahithophel. We will discover that these scriptures also have a second later fulfillment in the life of the Messiah.
Jesus confirms that He is the object of Psalms 41:9, in John 13:18-19, by saying: “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’”
Jesus understood that only the Messiah could fulfill Psalms 41:9. He knew what He was saying when He stated that the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend so close, that they would break bread together. Judas Iscariot became the betrayer, when He sat with Jesus at the Last Supper, on the night Jesus was arrested.
Judas Will Be Replaced By Another
Psalms 109:6-9 predicts that when Messiah is betrayed, His betrayer will be replaced by another man: “And let another take his office…”
The fulfillment of this prophecy written by David, 1,000 years before the event took place, is found in Acts 1:16-20 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ ”
How Could David Know Judas Would Be Replaced?
As Luke writes the words to Acts 1:16-20, he is remembering Psalms 109:6-9. The physician understood that this Psalm was written for the Messiah who would have one of His closest friends betray Him. The fact that Luke records these words in the first chapter of Acts is a confirmation of its prophetic importance as one of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Luke finished the first chapter of Acts with the statement:
For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ —Acts 1:20
After Judas betrayed Jesus, he went out and hung himself. The disciples met to determine who should replace him, and after prayer they chose Barsabas and Matthias as candidates. By casting lots (drawing straws), Matthias drew the lot, and he was added as the 12th Apostle. The only problem with this choice is that it was made before the arrival of the Holy Spirit, in Acts Chapter 2. We never read anything further about the Apostle Matthias, while nearly one half of the New Testament is written by the Apostle Paul.
Acts 1:23 And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Betrayed For 30 Pieces Of Silver
Concerning the precision of the Messianic Prophecies, the next part of Judas prophecies describe the Messiah being betrayed by Judas for 30 silver pieces.
Zechariah 11:12 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew records the event in the New Testament where Judas was paid the exact amount specified by Zecharian 400 years before:
Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
Zechariah describes the betrayal of the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew records an event where Judas Iscariot is paid thirty pieces of silver to deliver Jesus to the chief priests of Israel.
There is no doubt that Zechariah was writing specifically for Jesus—to reveal Him to us as the Messiah and the One to whom all the prophets wrote.
It is interesting that the Book of Exodus prescribes the compensation that should be paid for a slave who is gored by an ox—precisely the same amount paid to betray Jesus.
Exodus 21:32 If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
Israel sold her Messiah for the price of an injured slave. This is all that Jesus was worth to the Jews and the religious leaders of Israel. The thirty shekels that the chief priest paid Judas for the Lord’s betrayal was intended as an insult towards Jesus. It is certain that this amount was set with the thought of Exodus 21:32, specifically to reduce Jesus to little more than a wounded slave. Though He created everything that exists, and He came first to His own people—they insulted, rejected, and butchered Him on a Roman cross.
The Money Paid To Judas Was Used To Purchase A Field
Incredibly, Zecharian specifies that the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas would be used to purchase a potter’s field.
Zechariah 11:13a …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.
Matthew records the incredible fulfillment of this event:
Matthew 27:3-7 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” hen he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” 7 And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
Zechariah’s prophecy is one of the most detailed and stunning predictions of the Messiah that contains seven points for its fulfillment.
- The betrayer will be paid thirty pieces of silver.
- The betrayer will later regret his decision.
- He will attempt to return the fee he was paid.
- Those who paid him will refuse to accept the returned fee.
- The betrayer will throw the coins into the Temple.
- A potter’s field will be purchased using the money that was returned.
- The money paid for the Messiah’s betrayal is called “blood money” (Matthew 27:6).
The account written by Matthew records these astonishing details, exactly as Zechariah had predicted them. When Judas realizes that he has betrayed Jesus and has caused His death, he returns to the chief priests to return the thirty pieces of silver.
According to the law, money that had resulted from certain events—often referred to as blood money—could not be received into the temple treasury. The paying of a fee to Judas for the betrayal of Jesus, which caused His death, forbid the chief priests from receiving the money back from Judas that he had formerly been paid.
Deuteronomy 23:18 You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the Lord your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.
During this period of history, women did not have personal assets or the ability to earn money. Often when a woman had made a vow to the Lord, her only means to obtain resources to pay these vows was through prostitution. The priests were forbidden from receiving money that was earned by these methods. The intent was to discourage women from conducting themselves in this manner. This law was further expanded to exclude money that resulted from the death or injury of an individual.
Although the priests were forbidden from accepting money from the hands of those who had been paid to bring a criminal to justice, a provision in the traditions of the elders allowed certain funds to be received into the temple treasury for the purpose of prepaying the burial expenses of an indigent who had died while in Jerusalem. On many occasions, the temple treasury was forced to provide a place of burial for a foreigner or the poor. According to a provision in Jewish law, the chief priests could take the money Judas threw into the Temple and use it to purchase a parcel of land where the destitute could be laid to rest.
The term “potter’s field” implies that the section of land, which was purchased using this money, was formerly utilized for the extraction of clay that was used in the creation of pottery.
Examine The Details
It is interesting that the Pharisees would have no part in receiving money that was paid for Jesus’ death. We understand today that it was the death of Jesus and His blood that was shed, which has paid the price for all of our sins. Since no part of the scriptures exists by happenstance, we are compelled to understand the deeper meaning of these words.
Blood money was the reward paid for bringing a criminal to justice. Since Jesus became a criminal for each one of us, taking all of our sins upon Himself and then dying for those crimes, His blood has paid for us.
The use of the term “blood money” may be a spiritual idiom from God that illustrates the eternal plan and purpose of the Messiah, even in the smallest details of His betrayal, condemnation, and execution.
- The Messiah was betrayed.
- The money paid for His betrayal is called blood money.
- It was the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses us from our sins.
It is amazing to consider that Zechariah not only described the price of betrayal for the Messiah as thirty pieces of silver, but also revealed to us that the money would be thrown into the Temple and later used to buy a potter’s field.
Notice the use of the term, “they.”
“The princely price they set on me…”
They—being the leaders of Israel. The thirty pieces of silver, as described in Part Four, is intended as an insult towards Jesus. If a person owned a slave, during the days of the Old Testament, and that slave was killed by the careless acts of another, the amount that was paid as reimbursement to the slave owner was thirty shekels of silver.
The payment of thirty pieces of silver by the leaders of Israel for Jesus’ betrayal was tantamount to saying that His life was of such little value in their eyes, that He was nothing more than a worthless slave.
The scribes and Pharisees cared nothing for Jesus, nor did they believe that His words and actions proved He is the Messiah. These leaders of Israel feared the loss of their positions of authority and great wealth, and gave no thought to the plans and purposes of God.
God was seeking to bless the Jews with their long-promised Messiah. When He stood before them, they hated and killed Him. Jesus met every requirement for the Messiah, proven by hundreds of Old Testament Prophecies that He fulfilled. Jesus accomplished every word and work that the prophets of the Old Testament predicted, in stellar detail. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, and forgave sins. He made it clear that He is God and the only Savior of the world.
This prophecy and its stunning detail regarding the betrayal of the Messiah is substantial evidence that Jesus is the object of all the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Judas Will Throw The Money He Received Into The Temple
Zechariah predicts the price that was paid to betray the Jesus will be thrown into the “House of the LORD.”
Zechariah 11:13b …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.
Matthew again records the stunning fulfillment of this prophecy from Zechariah to the very detail:
Matthew 27:3-10 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself. But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”
Part Six further defines the actions of the Messiah’s betrayer. Upon his realization that he has betrayed “innocent blood,” he regrets his decision and returns to the leaders of the Temple at Jerusalem.
- Part Four describes the price of the Messiah’s betrayal.
- Part Five describes the purchase of a field from the price paid.
- Part Six describes the regret and suicide of the betrayer.
This prophecy of Zechariah does not tell us directly that the one who will betray the Messiah will take his own life as a result of his actions. Here Matthew describes the resulting suicide of Judas as a direct fulfillment of Zechariah 11:13b.
Matthew describes Judas’ remorse, by returning to the Temple to persuade the Pharisees to take back the thirty pieces of silver they had paid him. When Judas realizes that the money cannot be returned, he throws the coins in the direction of the Pharisees, and they are scattered onto the floor of the Temple grounds.
Matthew believed that Zechariah’s prophecy was directly fulfilled through the actions of Judas, as he did precisely what the prophet had predicted: “I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.”
What is astounding in this prophecy is that Zechariah described not only the return of the money paid to the betrayer, but specifically that these funds would be used “for the potter.”
As I previously described, the fact that the priests were forbidden from accepting money from the hands of those who had been paid to bring a criminal to justice, a provision in the tradition of the elders allowed certain funds to be received into the Temple treasury for the purpose of prepaying the burial expenses of an indigent who had died while in Jerusalem. On many occasions, the Temple treasury was forced to provide a place of burial for a foreigner or the poor. According to a provision in Jewish law, the chief priests could take the money that Judas threw into the temple and use it to purchase a parcel of land where the destitute could be laid to rest.
The term, potter’s field, in Zechariah’s prophecy, specifically identifies a field that was well known during this time, which was formerly utilized for the extraction of clay that was used in the creation of pottery. This field was called “the potter’s field.” How incredible that Zechariah could identify the actions of the Messiah’s betrayer as well as the resulting circumstances that would take place—even the purchase of a field, known as the potter’s field.
The Prophecy Of How Judas Would Die
Matthew writes that Judas was hanged.
Matthew 27:3-5 Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Peter adds the detail that when Judas was hanged, the rope broke and he fell head first onto the rocks below, his stomach bursting open.
Acts 1:15-19 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.)
- Matthew says that Judas “hanged himself.”
- Peter says that Judas, “falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out…”
We must remember that the words of the New Testament are the eyewitness accounts of those who were either there when the events took place, or were recorded by others from the testimony of those who saw the events take place.
The accounts of Matthew and Peter do not conflict with each other. They are the record of the events that took place, as each of these men described different parts of the same event.
Matthew recounts how Judas hanged himself. Peter describes further details of this event, where the rope that was used apparently snapped and Judas fell into the rocks of the field below. This fall ruptured his stomach area, spilling out his intestines onto the ground. This is the reason why the field was later called the Field of Blood.
When people are at the scene of an incident, they will often remember different details of the same event. It is common for a person who is interviewing eyewitnesses to hear added details, which others who were present did not think of or say. These differences are understood by experts as consistent with the true events that took place.
As we observe this phenomenon in Matthew and Peter’s descriptions of Judas’ death, we understand that this brings great internal evidence to their testimony as valid and authentic accounts of the same event. There are no discrepancies between these two narratives. There are simply additional details given by Peter, which Matthew did not mention. If the story was a fabrication, those who wrote the fabrication would be careful to make sure that the accounts of all witnesses were the same, so as to remove any doubts about their authenticity.
A Second Objection
Matthew records the prophecy of the Messiah’s betrayal, coming from the prophet Jeremiah. The actual prophecy that Jesus fulfilled is from Zechariah.
Matthew 27:9-10 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the LORD directed me.”
Zechariah 11:13b …And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter
The division of each scroll of the Old Testament into individual books did not take place until much later, after Matthew and Peter quoted from Zechariah and Jeremiah. At the time the gospel of Matthew was recorded, the writings of Zechariah were included in the larger scroll of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah, being the more important of the two prophets—Matthew simply quoted from the scroll of Jeremiah, where Zechariah’s prophecy was located.
When Matthew was trying to remember where the prophecy was written, he was doing so from memory and mistakenly thought it was in Jeremiah’s writing.
Very often, as a pastor and Bible teacher, I will make this same mistake without realizing my error while I am teaching from the pulpit. I have often stated that a particular verse of scripture is located in a certain book, when in fact the verse came from a different book of the Bible. The text of the verse I am quoting was correct; I simply described the wrong book.
The fact that we observe this occurring in the gospels gives us a great reason to believe that the New Testament scriptures are genuine.
The Heart Of The False Believer Is the Key
We cannot know what the heart of Judas was like, but we can judge the many opportunities he had to stop what he was planning and not betray Jesus. Judas was given every opportunity by Jesus to change his mind. Though Jesus knew the fate of Judas ahead of time, He still sat Judas at the place of honor during the Last Supper. At Jesus’ right hand, Judas could hear every word that He said when Jesus described His crucifixion the next day and how He would die for the sins of the world.
None of this had any impact upon Judas, for he was determined to stop Jesus by any means. Judas thought that Jesus was going to start the kingdom of the Messiah at that time. As the treasurer, Judas would have the opportunity to oversee all the finances of Messiah’s kingdom. When Jesus repeatedly stated that He did not come to be a political Messiah, but to die for the sins of the world, Judas gave up on Jesus and tried to make a profit from his betrayal. In Judas, satan found a willing servant who would do exactly what he wanted, kill the Messiah and stop his kingdom from coming to earth.
Judas’ life is a warning to every pretend believer that the heart is a dangerous part of our lives that can easily deceive us and be captured by satan to do his evil will and place us on the path to ruin.
Categories: God's Sovereignty, Jesus is the Messiah, Messianic Prophecies, Messianic Prophecy Bible, Pretend Believers, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Robert Clifton Robinson, The First Arrival of the Messiah, The Prophecies of the Messiah, The Suffering of Jesus