Sabbath, April 8, 2017

“The history of Judas presents the sad ending of a life that might have been honored of God. Had Judas died before his last journey to Jerusalem he would have been regarded as a man worthy of a place among the twelve, and one who would be greatly missed. The abhorrence which has followed him through the centuries would not have existed but for the attributes revealed at the close of his history. But it was for a purpose that his character was laid open to the world. It was to be a warning to all who, like him, should betray sacred trusts.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 716.

The condemnation

1. The following morning, after the overnight judgment of Jesus before Annas and Caiaphas, what terrible conclusion did the chief priests and elders of the people reach?

Matthew 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.

“As soon as it was day, the Sanhedrin again assembled, and again Jesus was brought into the council room. He had declared Himself the Son of God, and they had construed His words into a charge against Him. But they could not condemn Him on this, for many of them had not been present at the night session, and they had not heard His words. And they knew that the Roman tribunal would find in them nothing worthy of death. But if from His own lips they could all hear those words repeated, their object might be gained. His claim to the Messiahship they might construe into a seditious political claim….

“And so by the third condemnation of the Jewish authorities, Jesus was to die. All that was now necessary, they thought, was for the Romans to ratify this condemnation, and deliver Him into their hands.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 714.

Sold for the price of a slave

2. Centuries before the Messiah’s birth, what did prophecy say about the Saviour’s being betrayed for money? What price did the Jewish authorities pay Judas to betray the Saviour? In ancient times, what people were sold for such a small sum of money?

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:14, 15 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

Exodus 21:32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

“A little before the Passover, Judas had renewed his contract with the priests to deliver Jesus into their hands. Then it was arranged that the Saviour should be taken at one of His resorts for meditation and prayer. Since the feast at the house of Simon, Judas had had opportunity to reflect upon the deed which he had covenanted to perform, but his purpose was unchanged. For thirty pieces of silver–the price of a slave–he sold the Lord of glory to ignominy and death.

“Judas had naturally a strong love for money; but he had not always been corrupt enough to do such a deed as this. He had fostered the evil spirit of avarice until it had become the ruling motive of his life. The love of mammon overbalanced his love for Christ. Through becoming the slave of one vice he gave himself to Satan, to be driven to any lengths in sin.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 716.

Reconsideration too late

3. After pocketing the money, what took hold of Judas’ mind when he realized that Jesus was condemned to death? What did he do with the money that he had received from the priests?

Matthew 27:3 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.

“Christ was infinite in wisdom and yet He thought best to accept Judas, although He knew what were his imperfections of character. John was not perfect; Peter denied his Lord; and yet it was of men like these that the early Christian church was organized. Jesus accepted them that they might learn of Him what constitutes a perfect Christian character. The business of every Christian is to study the character of Christ…. 

“Judas alone did not respond to divine enlightenment…. He braced his soul to resist the influence of the truth; and while he practiced criticizing and condemning others, he neglected his own soul, and cherished and strengthened his natural evil traits of character until he became so hardened that he could sell his Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

“O let us encourage our souls to look to Jesus!…” –That I May Know Him, p. 182.


4. How did the chief priests and elders react when Judas came before them and confessed that Jesus was innocent? What did the betrayer do when they responded to him with indifference and contempt? What desperate act followed?

Matthew 27:4, 5 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

“It was God’s design that the men who delivered Jesus should hear the testimony of His innocence. ‘I find no fault in him,” Pilate declared. And Judas, throwing at the feet of the priests the money he had received for betraying Christ, bore testimony, ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.’ “ –Christ Triumphant, p. 269.

“Judas now cast himself at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging Him to be the Son of God, and entreating Him to deliver Himself. The Saviour did not reproach His betrayer. He knew that Judas did not repent; his confession was forced from his guilty soul by an awful sense of condemnation and a looking for of judgment, but he felt no deep, heartbreaking grief that he had betrayed the spotless Son of God, and denied the Holy One of Israel. Yet Jesus spoke no word of condemnation. He looked pityingly upon Judas, and said, For this hour came I into the world.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 722.

“Perceiving that his entreaties to spare the life of Jesus availed nothing with the high priest, he rushed from the hall in despair, crying, It is too late! It is too late! He felt unable to live to see Jesus crucified, and, in an agony of remorse, went out and hanged himself.” –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 126.

The priests and blood money

5. What did the priests eventually do with the money they had paid for Jesus’ betrayal, knowing that it was stained with blood? What prophecy was thus fulfilled?

Matthew 27:6-10 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. 7And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. 8Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. 9Then 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; 10And gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me. 

“Afterward the money which Judas had cast down before the priest was used for the purchase of a public burial ground.” –Redemption; or the Sufferings of Christ, His Trial and Crucifixion, p. 46.

“After the rejection of this Messiah as initiated by Judas, no more could be done for the continuance of the temple and Jerusalem,… Naturally, this was not the argument of the high priests and elders when they were left with the money flung down in the temple. On the contrary, ‘they took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.’ In this way they themselves [high priests and elders] confirm that the deed for which they had given the money to Judas was an unclean deed, a deed of blood. In this way they indirectly accuse themselves.” –Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol. 2, p. 468. 

Consequences of human manipulation

6. Despite Judas’ being considered a disciple and having been part of the sacred ministry, what happened to him when he agreed to lead the mob to the divine Master?

Acts 1:16-20 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18Now 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. 19And 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. 20For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.

Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.

“A murmur of surprise ran through the assembly. With amazement they beheld the forbearance of Christ toward His betrayer. Again there swept over them the conviction that this Man was more than mortal. But if He was the Son of God, they questioned, why did He not free Himself from His bonds and triumph over His accusers? 

“Judas saw that his entreaties were in vain, and he rushed from the hall exclaiming, It is too late! It is too late! He felt that he could not live to see Jesus crucified, and in despair went out and hanged himself.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 722.

A terrible lesson to learn

7. How terrible is it to betray the Son of God? Yet, in what ways can we also betray or offend Him? What great lesson do we learn from this part of Jesus’ life? 

Mark 14:21 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born. 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 

“We want to seek with all the powers that God has given us to unfold the Scriptures to those who are in darkness. There is happiness, hope, and peace for the desponding. We cannot afford to give our God-given ability and devote it to the commonplace things of this earth. We want a faith that will grasp the promise set before us in the gospel. What if we should lose our soul? It would be better for us had we never been born. One soul is worth more than all the gold and silver that could be heaped up on this earth….” –This Day with God, p. 271.

Thought questions

  • How is it possible to explain how Jesus was totally innocent and yet suffered the most cruel treason at the hands of His disciple?
  • What tendencies did Judas cultivate in his life that ended up controlling him to the point of their counteracting the holy teachings of the One he called Master and Lord?
  • If Jesus experienced such rejection, should we be surprised when it happens in the family? Yet what should we ask ourselves if this happens?
  • While we must not speak evil of anyone, when we see the fruit of the flesh manifested in another, what can each of us decide to ask the Saviour regarding our own condition?

For additional study

“If any testimony had been needed to prove the innocence of Jesus, it was given in the confession of Judas. Not only was it an evidence of the innocence of the Saviour, but the event was a direct fulfillment of prophecy. In prophetic vision Zechariah had looked down the ages and seen the trial of God’s dear Son. The act of Judas is thus described: ‘And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.’ “ –Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 3, p. 126.

“Humble yourselves, pray much, and the Holy Spirit’s power will attend your labors. Our richest blessings will come to us as we see our need and walk humbly with God….” –(Letter 260, 1906) The Publishing Ministry, p. 183.