365 Prophecies: Prophecy 351
The price paid to betray the Messiah will be thrown into the “House of the LORD”.
Old Testament Prediction:
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.
New Testament Fulfillment:
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.”
This 351st prophecy 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.
Prophecy 349 describes the price of the Messiah’s betrayal.
Prophecy 350 describes the purchase of a field from the price paid.
Prophecy 351 describes the regret and suicide of the betrayer.
What this prophecy of Zechariah does not tell us directly, is 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 in 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.
The details of Zechariah’s prophecy that are not disclosed, Matthew reveals in the actions of Judas regret, by throwing the money he received for Jesus betrayal, back into the temple.
Was the remorse of Judah sincere?
It would be natural to assume that Judas felt a great sense of remorse for having betrayed Jesus who he knew was innocent. After seeing the full course of all his actions, Matthew 27:3-10 describes Judas as “remorseful.” It is important to understand the difference between remorse and repentance.
Repentance is a sincere regret that causes a person to make changes in their life.
Remorse is a feeling of regret or guilt for wrongful actions or words without the desire to change.
The difference between repentance and remorse is defined by what a person does after he feels a sense of regret or remorse. The Bible defines true repentance as—Godly sorrow.
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…
The kind of sorrow that leads to true repentance produces a sincere desire to change the behavior that caused the sin in the first place. Many people feel sorrow when they commit a certain act, speak a particular word, feel anger, display selfishness, feel lust in their heart, or covet something material in the world. The feelings of regret speak to our conscience which produces guilt, which causes sorrow. In order for salvation to be possible, a person must take action to cease their former conduct. Without action to change sinful behavior, God will not forgive, nor grant salvation.
This is a key element that is not taught, nor observed in the Christian church today.
When Paul wrote the above verse in 2 Corinthians 7:10, it came in the form of a letter addressed to the church at Corinth. Paul describes a young man was involved in sexual sin with his fathers wife. The church leaders had not taken steps to discipline this young man, and instead permitted the sin to go on without any action by the leaders of the church.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!
Paul instructs the leaders of the church to cast the young man out of the church, to give him an opportunity to understand the seriousness of his actions, resulting in sincere repentance, which included a change in his actions.
Apparently, true repentance had taken place by the time that Paul wrote his second letter to the church at Corinth. He expresses his apparent earlier concern that his first letter had hurt the members of the church, but clarifies that this pain was necessary in order to bring about the Godly sorrow of the young man who had committed the actions. The young man’s sorrow led to true repentance, as evidenced by his willingness to change his former actions and stop the sin.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9 For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.
In this example from the New Testament, we see what true repentance is all about.
The sorrow that Judas felt did not lead him to change his actions and then continue on with Jesus. It is clear that had Judas sincerely repented of his sin and then come to Jesus in sincere sorrow, the Lord would have forgiven and restored him. Judas could have gone on to a full life of joy in following and serving Jesus. When Peter denied the Lord three times, he also felt a deep sense of regret for his actions. Peter took appropriate steps to change his heart and behavior as he came to Jesus in repentance. Peter went on to become a tremendous leader in Jesus church who drastically effected the entire world by his example of sincere repentance that led to practical changes in his actions.
Judas did not possess the Godly sorrow that leads to a changed life. He was sorry that he had betrayed Jesus; but he went on to sin further by taking his own life. In true repentance, a person changes their mind about the former sins they have committed and make a serious effort to cease from sinning again.
In sorrow that does not lead to salvation, we simply feel bad about what was done without action to change our behavior. It is not enough to feel bad. We must do something to change our future actions—which is true repentance.
Internal evidence of the New Testament
An important point that actually serves greatly to authenticate the New Testament as a valid account of the life of Jesus Christ is the difference in testimony between Matthew and Peter’s narrative of Judas suicide. Matthew describes Judas as hanging himself in a tree after his betrayal of Jesus. Peter, in Acts chapter 1, describes Judas as falling head first into a field and having his intestines burst open. Some critics of the Bible see this difference in the description of Judas death as a discrepancy that casts doubt on the reliability of the New Testament.
He 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.
Fell head first, 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 eye witness 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 which 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, broke and Judas fell into the rocks of the field below. This fall ruptured his stomach area, spilling his intestines out onto the ground. This is the reason 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 that others who were present did not think of or say. These differences are understood as being consistent with the true events which 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 that 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 that 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 got the book wrong.
The fact that we observe this occurring in the gospels gives us a great reason to believe that the New Testament scriptures are genuine.
If a person was seeking to fabricate a lie and write a story to convince us, he would make sure that the details of his account were consistent with known sources. However, if a person was simply trying to recount the verse of scripture that he believed were fulfilled—much as I do when teaching on a Sunday morning before the congregation, he might miss quote the wrong book. This tells us that the details which are written in Matthew 27:9 are a genuine account of what actually took place. This so-called “discrepancy” is not a valid reason to doubt the New Testament; in reality, it is a great reason to believe it.
Another possibility is that this verse does not specifically state that the prophecy was written in the scroll of Jeremiah; it says that it was “spoken by Jeremiah the prophet…” Zechariah may have recorded the words of Jeremiah who had originally spoken them.
When we investigate the New Testament in great detail, we find that the internal evidence which the writers have provided, gives us an abundance of clues to validate the authenticity of their narratives. The differences between Matthew and Peter’s account of Judas death, the mistaken quote of Matthew in describing Jeremiah as the source of Zechariah’s prophecy, all tell us that we have a true account of the events which they describe. We can have confidence that the life of Jesus Christ has been recorded for us truthfully, by the actual people who saw and heard Him, witnessed His crucifixion and resurrection three days later, and testified that He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah.