Judas’ Suicide – April 20th, 2014

Matthew 27 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.

What a story! Painful. Sad. Chilling. Fearful. But very, very, true. Judas betrayed Jesus but then later, he found that he couldn’t live with himself. Was it too late? Let us see and by that, we will have to start from verse 3: Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned

It is not clear to us where Judas was when he saw that Jesus was condemned. But we see that Judas saw. What did he see? He saw that Jesus was condemned. He saw it happen, which means he was around; whether near or far I can’t say but he was an eyewitness to the result of his betrayal of an innocent person.  And this innocent person was none other than God Himself.  It seemed it was too late for him to undo the wrong he had done because our passage says that even those with whom he had plotted against Jesus, once they had Jesus in their clutches, had no use for Judas. At least he went to them but look at verse 4: And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that

Wow! What a response! So now, look at Judas’ situation: he was friendless because: he had betrayed Jesus and further, Jesus was now in the hands of the enemy; he couldn’t go back to the other disciples because of pride and shame, and his “new friends” didn’t want him; after all, they finally had what they wanted and so they had no use for “buddy” Judas any longer. It is therefore no wonder that they said to him What is that to us? see thou to that.  So Judas was now alone or he chose to be alone; like I said, he could have gone to the disciples, gone to Mary, Jesus’ mother and begged for forgiveness.

But let us revisit that something in verse 3, which says, he saw

I repeat that if he “saw,” then that means he was around the place. It is similar to Peter’s situation. The Bible says that Peter followed at a distance so probably Judas was also doing the same, following at a distance. In fact Peter was so close that when the cock crowed three times, Luke wrote (Luke 22:61): And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And like Luke, Matthew wrote about Peter, And he went out, and wept bitterly, 26:75

 The question is, what did Judas see?

 He Judas saw that He, (that is, Jesus), was condemned.  So we can deduce that he saw the end of the false trial; he was there when the Sanhedrin condemned Jesus. And that was in the wee hours of the morning.  Condemned means that he must have seen Jesus being bound and led away; remember, he had already witnessed a similar event earlier (last night) when he led the mob into the garden and Jesus was taken away. So now, he again sees Jesus being bound and led away to Pilate.

 So then, what did he do after?

Our text says he repented himself. Hmm! Isn’t that interesting?  Could it be that he couldn’t stomach what he saw? How the mob treated Jesus, striking Him at every turn? How Jesus was tightly bound? How Jesus was being led away?  And he did what he did for what? Eternal life full of wealth and health and power? No. It was for just 30 pieces of silver. Not gold. It was for 30 pieces of silver. And the religious leaders were honourable. They gave Judas the 30 pieces of silver that they promised to give him if he delivered their archenemy, Jesus.

  • He had the 30 pieces of silver but he didn’t have Jesus.
  • He had the 30 pieces of silver but he didn’t have his friends, the disciples.
  • He had the 30 pieces of silver but he didn’t even have his co-conspirators, the chief priests and elders.
  • He had the 30 pieces of silver but he no longer had that close relationship with God.

A lot of people who initially followed Jesus left Him, but Judas was one of the twelve who decided to stay when Jesus asked them, the twelve, as John recorded it: Then Jesus said unto the twelve, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:67).  You know, as I think about it, and I’m asking you to think about it too: only 11 other people in all of human history or at that time ever had that opportunity to walk with, laugh with, eat with, drink with, talk with and to, touch, embrace, hug, Jesus, the Son of God.  Judas saw firsthand the miracles. Today, see how thousands flock to go see empty, fake miracles!  Money! Yes, the love of money will do that to you and make you do that. But only 30 pieces of silver? You know, this was really and literally a handful of money! And a lot for one who appeared to have given up all he had to come follow Jesus. This thing about the love of money! You know, Paul later warned 1 Timothy 6:10 about that. Paul wrote, For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

So Judas squandered all this opportunity and privilege that he had when for 3 years he walked with God. People are doing that today. Many have “walked with” Christ for years only to throw it all away because of their lust for money, women or men or material things.  And you know, people in the church who do that think they are smart, hiding their shameful character from others but not from the Lord.  Likewise, Judas probably thought he was hiding his true lifestyle from the Lord but not so.  Jesus, God the Son, looks on the heart and not on outward appearance, says 1 Samuel 16:7. And He knows everything that is why when He addressed His disciples He said, referring to Judas: Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? (John 6:70).

 So our text says he repented himself.

Was it true repentance? No, because when we consult the Greek word used, metamelomai, which means deeply regretful, it is totally different from the normal word that would have been used for repentance, which is metanoeo.  So Judas didn’t like what he saw after his terrible deed and was therefore filled with regret but he failed the key requirement, which was to repent of his sin. It is one thing to be remorseful and another thing to repent.  You know, this is so crucial. Many regret what they do but don’t want to repent; so what happens? They end up repeating the sin over and over and over and over again. They just love the sin, and will therefore give all kinds of excuses as to why they keep indulging in that sin.

 Why did Judas regret? To tell you the truth, I don’t know. And, we are not told.  But could it be that he thought Jesus would use His power to escape?  Was Judas thinking that No weapon formed against our Lord Jesus shall prosper? (Isaiah 54:17).  After all, no one ever saw Jesus ever fail. He is God and failure is not an option at all.  You remember one time and on other occasions they tried to arrest Jesus but He passed through them and was gone? Let us see Luke 4:30 and John 10:39. Maybe Judas thought Jesus would pass through His enemies and disappear. But I admit to you that it is all a “maybe.” The Bible is silent on why Judas regretted.  Whatever it was, he only regretted when he saw the rotten fruit of his deeds. Gosh, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. I mean, it is so very sad and when you try to imagine the scene, and think of eternal separation, you do somehow feel sorry for him.

What is the next thing that Judas did after he repented himself?

You and I will say that what he did is laudable and honourable. No? After all, he took the money back and even when the chief priests and elders refused to accept his offering, he threw them all away, on the floor.  Now, step-by-step let us look at what steps Judas took (it is up on the overhead for all to see); I see a few steps here and they are the outline for my sermon:

  • The Restitution
  • The Confession
  • The Affirmation
  • The Admission 
  • The Propulsion
  • The Commission
  • The Damnation 

(1) The Restitution – v.3

Judas, the failed disciple, went back to the Sanhedrin, the chief priests and elders and offered back to them the money that they had given him but they refused his offer.  You can tell that things were still hot, still unfolding so it appears he didn’t even have time to savour, dream about what he was going to do with the money. Or, maybe he had planned to buy a field.  Just remember though, that the money was all he wanted and it was all that he had left (as he wasn’t looking up to Jesus). But look. Suddenly, that money was toxic to him. I guess whenever he looked at the money, all he could see was Jesus’ face. The money was now like Macbeth and his murderous knife!

 (2) The Confession

As if he knew that the restitution was not going to work, he desperately added a confession, verse 4 saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.  A key question to ask is, to whom was he confessing, to the Sanhedrin or to God? We will see the answer a little later.  But for now, do you notice that Judas is saying two things here? After saying I have sinned he says something else. The affirmation. What was he affirming?

 (3) The Affirmation

He was affirming Jesus’ innocence when he said I have betrayed the innocent blood.  He was affirming what Pilate was later going to say: I find no fault in Him.  Whenever we affirm that Jesus is who He is, we have to admit that we are guilty and that we need Him.

 (4) The Admission 

Judas admitted that he was very guilty. That was good. We will expect him to repent and knowing that he walked with Jesus, that is what I will expect from him. When David stole Bathsheba and then later had her husband killed, what happened?  We are told that he was confronted by the prophet Nathan and when Nathan accused him of being the culprit, David confessed to his sin, affirmed what Nathan said and admitted his guilt then what else did he do? He repented.  Not so with Judas. Rather, he went and hung himself. When he went and hung himself, it was the ultimate admission of guilt. Admission of guilt but no repentance!

So Judas, as I mentioned before, confessed but not to God; it was to man. This implies that he was forfeiting forgiveness because only the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, said Jesus.  He sinned against God but he wasn’t asking God for forgiveness. Isn’t that crazy? Instead, he went to his cohorts for help! 

Be careful with whom you hang out. Be careful.

Look at what his comrades in sin told him: And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that, verse 5.  Do you see how cold their response to him is? It is without mercy and without sympathy: What is that to us? see thou to that. Deal with it. We have things (mock trial, crucifixion) to do.

  • They didn’t care what he had to admit
  • They didn’t care what testimony he had
  • They didn’t care what evidence he had

You go take of your evidence. Deal with it! Quit bothering us!  You know, they remind me of all those prosecutors who go around working with cops to frame Blacks, wrongfully accuse Blacks of crimes they never committed. How many such cases haven’t we seen?  And even when the evidence is produced that vindicates the alleged culprit, they try to wrap it under dirty blankets so that the truth won’t come to light.  That’s the picture we get here of what was happening to Jesus; even though the truth has been produced, those religious leaders don’t give a hoot about it. They were bent on having the innocent Jesus abused and crucified!

 (5) The Propulsion

Look at what happened next, verse 5  And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

The weasels rejected his offer so what did Judas do? He threw, cast the money down on the floor.  I can imagine the ringing in his ears as the pieces of silver scattered everywhere and rolled down the temple floor.  In propelling the pieces of silver on the floor, you can tell that this was someone who was trying to distance himself as far as possible from eternal death but, he was going about it the wrong way.  We can’t save ourselves and so without seeking forgiveness from God, Judas was totally condemning himself to torture, pain, fear and eternal damnation.  As a matter of fact, he was literally cursing himself to everlasting hell because in Deuteronomy 27 and 28 where Moses explained the curses and blessings associated with the Sinaitic Covenant, we read something in 27:25 that perfectly applies to Judas; let’s read it:

Deuteronomy 27:25 says very clearly that Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.

He couldn’t rid himself of the silver, of the Sanhedrin, of his sin and so ended up embracing a curse.  Oh, that he would have lifted up his eyes onto the hills and shouted “Hosanna!” Lord save!  But he didn’t, and that’s what sin does to us; it clouds our judgment that bad!

(6) The Commission

Look at what else happened after that, verse 5b.

5 … and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Here is the ultimate act of a lonely, abandoned, destitute, hopeless, friendless individual.  This is an individual who had forgotten that he was given so many opportunities to avoid sin.  The evening before when they were having supper, the Lord gave him the opportunity several times to change his mind, dropping hints all over the place of what was going to happen.  Here at this juncture, the opportunity to repent was still open but what did he do? He chose to go and commit suicide!

(7) The Damnation

Suicide and Hell.  You know, when Judas committed that suicide, he forever confirmed the sin that he had committed and tied himself forever to the word “Guilty!” Guilty of innocent blood as he himself confessed.  Beloved, though Judas’ suicide is the most famous, there are a few examples of successful suicides in the Bible. I will give you the scripture references for these examples.  Immediately coming to mind is Samson, who killed himself and his Philistine captors who were ridiculing and mocking him and his God (Judges 16:28-30).  However in Samson’s case, he prayed to God for strength to lay down his life in service to God, and this last act of courage and sacrifice seemed to be answered by God because Samson’s strength returned and in pulling down the pillars, the evil Philistines were killed.  Another example of suicide involves, again, the Philistines. In this situation, it was King Saul and his armour-bearer, who killed themselves as they were being overrun by the Philistines in a losing battle (1 Samuel 31:4-5).  There is also that of Ahithophel. The Bible says Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and arose and went to his home, to his city, and set his house in order, and strangled himself; thus he died and was buried in the grave of his father (2 Samuel 17:23).  Still in the Old Testament, we read of Zimri who usurped the throne in Israel for seven days, before Israel’s army marched against him and he intentionally set the citadel on fire and died in the flames. It says: When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the king’s house and burned the king’s house over him with fire, and died, because of his sins which he sinned, doing evil in the sight of the LORD, walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, making Israel sin (1 Kings 16:18-19). 

You know what? There are those in the Bible who contemplated suicide but didn’t carry it through. For example, the Philippian jailor, who considered killing himself when he saw all the doors of the prison open, as recorded in Acts 16:27-28. Being one of the prisoners, Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” So instead of committing suicide, the jailor became a Christian and was baptized that night, Acts 16:29-33. What a testimony! Suicide is not of God; it is straight from hell.  We see another famous example also in the New Testament when satan tempted Jesus to throw Himself off the temple wall, so that God would send an angel to save Him Matthew 4:5-7. We know what happened, don’t we? Our Lord put the enemy in his place immediately.

Beloved, do you know what I’ve observed? It appears from these biblical examples that those who committed suicide were most often followers of the devil, men who did so as a result of their evil.  And as always when it comes to sinning, we are given a choice. You see, our examples also show that in other situations, people were encouraged to kill themselves but chose not to do so on their own. They saw avoidance as being the better choice. As we can see, and I know what some preach and teach, it is clear that the Bible never encourages suicide.  So, Judas had a choice, just like the Philippian Jailer or Job who was encouraged to commit suicide by his wife but he refused, or Jesus who also refused.

Judas, for some 3 years of ministry with Jesus had heard Jesus teach so much about hell, with its scary descriptions, for example, being a place where the worms never die, where there is constant weeping and gnashing of teeth and where the fire is unquenchable. Judas knew all that but look at the decision he preferred? Do you see how powerful sin is? Beloved let us not toy with eternity. No, no!

(8) The Confusion

I’d like for us to sort out some confusion that pertains to how Judas died as there is Matthew’s account as well as Luke’s, which Luke recorded in Acts 1.  According to Acts 1:15, Peter is the one speaking and he says, in Acts 1:18-19, 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.

I will tell you that the Acts information supplements what we saw in Matthew 27:3-5; apparently Judas failed in his attempt to hang himself, fell, and was killed by the impact of his falling.  I hope you are following me thus far. Matthew 27 says he suffocated and Acts 1 adds that, being strangled, or choked with grief and horror, he fell headlong, fell on his face and so the combination of the swelling up of his breast and the violent impact of his headlong fall, we read that he burst asunder in the midst, so that all his bowels tumbled out. Yikes! Is this where sin always leads? Yes! Yes! Yes!  And you know, this makes so much sense and addresses the confusion. Let me show you what I mean.  Do you remember the story of the demon possessed which is recounted in Mark 9:26 and Luke 9:42? The Bible says that when the devil was cast out of that child, that demon tore him, threw him down, rent him, and almost killed him. It is therefore not surprising that having full possession of Judas, satan threw him headlong, and burst him open. Listen, some of you are sinning right now but enjoying the sin. Remember what the end looks like. If you don’t or never had a point of reference, now you have one. Look at Judas’ ugly fate. Is that what you want? It is even worse than that because this is only the physical; think about the spiritual death, separated from God forever. Just think.

Moreover, Matthew’s account of Judas’ suffocation adds to the solution in that due to the suffocation, you will expect Judas’ body to swell up, like a balloon, until he burst, just like Peter says in Acts 1. And Luke, being the physician that he is gives us that detail as well, saying, His bowels gushed out; Luke the doctor understands human body parts very well so he knew exactly what had happened. And remember that like the other writers of the Scriptures, Luke was writing under and as he was moved by the power of the Holy Spirit

It was known to all the dwellers in Jerusalem. 

Isn’t that something! The Scripture says that it was known (by everyone) in that it was known to be true; there is no disputing the facts. I can imagine people flocking to see the body. Isn’t that our nature? Let the cops come zooming in here with sirens wailing and what will happen? People will immediately gather around, nosy, inquisitive, and curious to find out what has happened. It was the same way, that is why the Bible says It was known to all the dwellers in Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses.  Further, and if you will allow me to bring it into today’s language it was in all the newspapers and all over CNN, BBC, CBC; everyone in the town talked about it. So it also appears that Judas hanged himself from something that was weak (most probably a branch) or with something weak and which couldn’t carry his weight; so whatever it was, it broke which, in turn sent him hurtling down, headlong, to meet some jagged rocks waiting for his bloated, swollen body.

Now, do you remember how Matthew said Judas threw the money on the temple floor? While Judas himself did not purchase the field, the wages of his unrighteous deed of betraying Jesus did. I ask myself whether he had told the religious leaders, “I’d like to buy a piece of real estate.” I just wonder what their discussions might have been. It is just very chilling.  I wonder because probably Judas, just like Gehazi did in 2 Kings 5:26 when he lied to Naaman, thought to have purchased a field for himself.  Well, the field, which was purchased with his money, was called Aceldama—the field of blood, because it was bought with the price of blood.  It was a field of blood not only because Judas spilled his entrails and blood and whatever else there, but also because the field was purchased with the “blood money” he received when he betrayed Jesus.

It will be important for us to note as well that what Peter said here in Acts 1 was only a summary, just like the several speeches that were delivered by the apostles in the Book of Acts. We see biblical writers simply giving us, in many areas, the main idea of the speeches that they heard and which they recorded. Regardless, the key point is that as we look at this so-called confusion, we should really not be so preoccupied with whether Peter, or the other speakers in the Book of Acts spoke their lines or words exactly the same way Luke wrote them. In a paraphrased style or ditto-ditto or however his approach, we obtain from Luke the exact information that the Holy Spirit wants us to receive. That suffices for me. What about you? 

As I end, I’d like to implore you, please note that sin will never send you to paradise on earth or heaven. Never. Sin will abandon you and your end will be disastrous both physically and spiritually. Amen. Shall we please pray.

 

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