Judas’ Suicide: Guilt, Remorse, No Forgiveness
Matthew 27:3–10; Acts 1:18–19
Matthew Lesson #180
December 3, 2017
“Our Father, we’re thankful for this time that we can be refreshed by Your Word, that You will use Your Word in our lives to challenge us, to change us, to correct us, and that we might be matured as we understand Your thinking.
“For indeed Your Word is Your thinking: it is the mind of Christ. It helps us to understand reality as You created it and not as we wish it were.
“Father, we pray that as we study, too, that we might come to understand some answers to some questions and that our faith in the Scriptures and its integrity would also be strengthened.
“We pray these things in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Matthew 27:3.
Have you ever heard anybody tell you that in order to be saved, you have to feel sorry for your sins or you have to repent? That is often a common error in the way in which the Gospel is presented.
For many people just understanding that the good news of the Gospel is faith alone, simply believing the good news that Jesus Christ died on the Cross doesn’t seem to be quite enough for some people.
That somehow we have to add something to that; we have to be sorry for our sins. We have to have some sort of repentance of sin. Unfortunately, Scripture never has that as a focal point at all; it doesn’t ever say that.
Then when we get into the Christian life, we commit sins that sometimes shock other people, sometimes they shock us that we have done such a thing. Somehow we think that in order to get God’s forgiveness, we have to do something in addition to just confessing sin—just admitting to God that we did it doesn’t seem to be enough. Somehow we have to impress God with our remorse.
In fact, sometimes the word “confess” in some languages is translated with a word that means to regret or to have remorse. That’s true when I go over to Ukraine using the Russian Bible, and even the Ukrainian Bible, that comes across and the translation always has to be addressed and always has to be corrected.
In this passage, we’re going to see that there is in the Bible a significant difference between the idea of sorrow or remorse or regret and what the Bible calls “repentance,” also a term often misunderstood. As we go through this, we’re also going to look at three alleged contradictions that are in the Bible and understand why they are not contradictions.
This passage focuses on the death of Judas Iscariot. As we go through this, I want to point out a few things by way of review, as we look at Judas’ suicide, as well as the topics of guilt and remorse and that he had no forgiveness.
First of all, in Matthew 27 we continue to be in the midst of these six trials of Jesus. Remember I pointed out, there are really two groups of trials, and each trial has three stages or three trials or three hearings. There is a lot of debate as to exactly what word to use. I still like the idea that there’s six distinct trials, there’s six distinct hearings that are taking place.
At first Jesus, we’re told in the Gospel of John, is taken to Annas, who is no longer high priest, but he is the power behind the high priesthood. Caiaphas is the current high priest. Caiaphas is his son-in-law, and five of his sons will be high priest over the coming next 20 or 30 years, and so he’s the real power behind the priesthood ministry, and it’s as corrupt a ministry as it can possibly be.
The second trial, which we studied a couple weeks ago, is when Jesus is then taken from Annas to Caiaphas who is the high priest, and the chief priests and elders in the Sanhedrin are gathered together at that point and for that hearing.
They bring in a lot of false witnesses, and the false witnesses cannot agree with each other, until finally they get two that seem to agree with each other. Caiaphas jumps on that, jumps up, tears his robe when he gets Jesus to admit that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. And this is the trumped-up charge of blasphemy they have against Jesus, and it doesn’t fit a number of things.
I’ve already pointed out there are number of illegalities that have taken place in these first two trials. The first illegality that I emphasized was that the verdict could not be announced at night. There were others that I mentioned, but the three or four I want to review for you on this is that the verdict could not be announced at night, and that’s why these first two trials are at night, before dawn. So, by meeting and having a trial, they have violated their rules.
A second violation is that in the case of a capital punishment trial, in the case of a capital trial, the trial and the guilty verdict could not occur at the same time. They would hold the trial and they had to wait at least 24 hours before they could announce the verdict. They had to be able to sit, think, and weigh the evidence.
A third rule that they violated is that the sentence could only be pronounced three days after the guilty verdict. Now they’re going to do everything all in one night.
A fourth violation of the law was that no trials were allowed on the eve of the Sabbath or on a feast day. They are on the eve of Passover—Pesach—at this point, so they were not to convene a trial at that point. But they’ve been forced to do so, as I pointed out, because Jesus has blown Judas’ cover.
Jesus knew that Judas had already betrayed Him and He points him out during the Seder meal to the other disciples, and basically orders Judas to go and do what he’s going to do. Judas goes to the Sanhedrin because he believes that if Jesus isn’t arrested that night, then He may get away.
They have brought Jesus to this trial, and in those first two trials, they have basically come to an agreement as to what the charge will be. Then we’re told in Matthew 27:1-2 that they held the third trial trying to have a semblance of legality. They waited until the sun came up, and then in daylight they took Him, they found Him guilty, and they bound Him and then led Him away to Pontius Pilate, the governor.
We will come back and talk about that a little more next time, but in taking Him away to Pontius Pilate that ends the first three trials—the religious phase—and shifts to the secular phase.
That is important because Judas is there waiting. He was with the crowd that went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He’s the one that betrayed Jesus; he’s always introduced in verse 3 as Judas, His betrayer. Judas stayed with the crowd, went back to the residence of the high priest, and is present for these hearings.
He probably was not in the room, but he heard what was going on, and he heard news that was relayed back to him, and he would have been there, because as the one who betrayed Jesus, he might be needed as a witness in the civil trial. So, Judas is very definitely present.
The other thing is that in the way Matthew presents this whole episode, it’s very dramatic, and he shifts from scene to scene. He begins, of course, at Gethsemane, and then at the introduction of the trial section he talks about the fact that Jesus was led away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled in Matthew 26:57–58, “But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard.”
We have these two scenes summarized: we’re going to see Jesus before the high priest and the formal trials there—the religious trials—and then we’re going to watch Peter.
We went from Annas to Caiaphas and then the scene, the focus, shifted to Peter and his denials. Then there’s the two verses dealing with the third trial, and the scene shifts to Judas. We looked at Peter, Peter’s denials, and the emphasis there, the last time, was on the grace and forgiveness of God.
We learned from studying Peter’s denials of Jesus that he is still going to be forgiven, that there’s no sin that’s too great for the grace of God. There is no sin that was not covered or paid for by the death of Christ on the Cross. He died for all sin. There is no such thing as an unforgivable sin. Some people say, “Well, isn’t unbelief an unforgivable sin?” But we are born condemned because of Adam’s original sin.
There are three things that are the basis of our condemnation:
First and foremost in the foundation is Adam’s original sin: we’re born spiritually dead. This is why John 3:18 says that if we haven’t believed in Jesus we’re condemned already because we’re spiritually dead.
Then there is a second level of condemnation due to personal sin, but we’re born a sinner, we’re born spiritually dead. Jesus paid for all sin, and if we don’t believe in Jesus so that that is applied to us—that cleansing and forgiveness is applied to us. It is made real at the Cross, which is when the certificate of debt was wiped away, but it is not directly applied to us until we believe in Him and our personal spiritual death is resolved, and we are born again and regenerate.
All sins are paid for, even the sin of suicide, which we will look at in this chapter because Judas is one of two people who have committed suicide in the Bible. The other is Ahithophel, who was one of David’s counselors who had betrayed David. He is an Old Testament type of Judas and his betrayal of the Lord.
There’s no such thing as an unforgivable sin. There is only failure to accept God’s free gift of salvation and forgiveness and remission of sin. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all sin and to provide forgiveness and cleansing for anyone in the human race who would believe on Him. God’s grace is extended to all without exception and without distinction.
Now I use those two words intentionally. When you talk with Calvinists about limited atonement, they would say that Jesus died for all men without distinction; that is, He died for Jews and Gentiles. But unlimited atonement teaches that Jesus Christ died for all without exception, every individual. So, I always make that point that it’s without exception and without distinction. Anyone can come to salvation, “whosoever will believe in Him shall have everlasting life.”
Last time when I introduced Peter, I started with these slides, and I’m doing it again today because in the background of this is Matthew’s contrast between Peter’s sin and denial of Christ and his forgiveness in contrast to Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and his not experiencing any forgiveness.
We learn from the Scripture that from the very beginning it was understood that Jesus was born to bring remission of sin.
Luke 1:77 is the voice of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, whose ministry would be to point out Jesus; and therefore, part of his ministry was to give the knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins—that would come through Jesus.
Luke 24:47, Luke says “… that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
Again, the emphasis that the Cross provides forgiveness of sin. “Remission of sin” is the translation; it means forgiveness. It’s the same APHIEMI that we find in passages like John 3:16 and other places related to forgiveness.
The God in the Old Testament is a God of forgiveness. Exodus 34:6–7, “… The Lord, the Lord God, is merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth. He keeps mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” This is the God whom we worship.
In Micah 7:18, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? …”—God pardons iniquity—“… He does not retain His anger forever, but He delights in mercy.”
In the New Testament this is echoed by Peter in Acts 10:43, when he is witnessing to Cornelius the Gentile and his household. He says, “To Him ...”—that is, to Jesus—“… all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive the forgiveness of sins.” That’s what we have in Christ. That is a focal point of the gospel.
- Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
- Colossians 1:14, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin.”
We see this contrast that is going to take place here between Peter and Judas Iscariot:
- We see that Peter betrays the Lord, or denies the Lord, and then he will seek forgiveness from the Lord.
- Judas betrays the Lord, but he doesn’t seek forgiveness from the Lord. Peter is forgiven. Judas is not.
Peter has guilt and remorse. When Jesus looks at him, Luke 22:61, after his third denial, “… the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him. ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So Peter went out and wept bitterly.”
Sin sometimes—depending on your personality, depending on other factors—may have a tremendous emotional response in your soul. It may produce sorrow, sadness, and weeping, but that is not necessary for forgiveness. But it is often there. There’s nothing wrong with being sorrowful for sin, but you may not always feel sorry for sin. You may not always have remorse. It depends on the sin and the situation and the circumstances.
Peter committed a sin he did not believe he would ever commit, and it was a personal affront to the Lord Jesus Christ, and when the Lord looked at him, he knew what he had done, and he went out and he wept bitterly. That is remorse. He doesn’t use the word there, but that is what that demonstrates, is remorse.
In contrast, we have Judas. “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned …”—that is, Jesus had been condemned—“… was remorseful and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.”
Judas, we see here, is identified as the betrayer. But Judas conducted this betrayal by delivering Jesus over for a price—the price of 30 pieces of silver—according to Matthew 26:15. Before he did that, we’re also told that Satan entered into him in Luke 22:3, “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.”
Judas made the decision on his own to betray Jesus. He can’t say “the devil made me do it”. Although he is empowered by Satan, the devil isn’t the one who makes him do it. He is the one who makes that choice himself, and he sells out the Lord Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
In John 13:10 Jesus identifies or states that one of the twelve is not clean—that is, not saved—and that this is the one who would betray Him, according to John 13:10–11.
This is a separate incident, separate timing than what we read about in Luke 22:3. In John 13:11 John says about Jesus, “For He knew who would betray Him. Therefore He said, ‘You are not all clean.’ ”
After He announced who the betrayer would be, He identifies him through the dipping of the bread, and we’re told in John 13:27, “Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ ”
Then just a few chapters later, probably just an hour or two later in the evening, Jesus prays to the Father on the way to Gethsemane, and in that prayer, He identifies Judas as the Son of Perdition—another term for someone who is not a believer, someone who is lost.
This gives us a look into the soul of Judas. Here is someone who has been closer to the Lord Jesus Christ than any except ten or eleven people, the other disciples. He’s traveled with Him, he has camped out with Him, they have been in ministry together, he has seen Jesus in any and every kind of situation with that close intimacy, and yet he has never believed in anything that Jesus taught.
He has not accepted Him as his Messiah. He has gone along with everything thinking probably that Jesus will fulfill these political hopes and dreams that were popularly assumed to be true of the Messiah. But in the end, he rejected Jesus as Messiah and was willing to betray Him for the price of a slave.
At this point what happened is that it almost defies comprehension that this man who has persistently rejected God’s grace and God’s truth turns on Jesus and betrays Him. And on top of that, he’s indwelt by Satan.
When that happens, it’s at the end. He’s had three years where he has been negative, rejected Jesus over and over and over again, and then as that happens, his soul becomes more and more hardened to truth until he is open to Satan. When that happens, Satan indwells him.
There’s only one other person we know in history who is indwelt by Satan, and that is the future Antichrist. Evil takes place as Satan enters into Judas, and this is, I think, a function of Satan’s “angel of light” motif as described in 2 Corinthians 11:14: that he appears as an angel of light, that he deceives people into thinking he’s good.
Judas has fallen for that deception, opened himself up to the evil of Satan. We can’t imagine the impact that that would have on a person’s soul when Satan leaves—what’s left behind. Satan deserts Judas, and Judas is left to face the reality of what he has done and those consequences.
That’s what is described here. He realizes, after witnessing these trials, what is happening. He may or may not have understood that they were going to railroad Jesus. They were going to frame Him, and they were going to make sure they killed Him no matter what. He may not have realized that; maybe he just thought they would flog Him, maybe he thought that they would punish Him in some other way.
But now he is convinced that they are going to make sure that He is executed, and the full reality of what he has done in terms of bringing this innocent man under the threat of capital punishment before him, that he is now remorseful.
That word translated “remorseful” is the Greek word METAMELOMAI. That’s the dictionary form of that verb. It means to be sorry, to feel sorrow, to regret something. In some cases, it almost means to change your mind, but the overtone of the whole word is that of emotion, not that of thought.
It is contrasted in Scripture with this word METANOIA. The second syllable there NOIA, is from the Greek word NOUS, which means thinking. The prefix of that preposition META is an afterthought. It is to think about something later, but the emphasis is on the thought; whereas the emphasis in METAMELOMAI is on emotion. METAMELOMAI is often contrasted with repentance.
That brings up another problem because what you find is some people who will go through a passage like this and say, “See, he had regret, but he didn’t have true repentance.” That’s always a problem because you don’t find the Scripture ever talking about genuine repentance, true repentance, sincere repentance; any of those phrases. It talks about repentance. Either you do or you don’t.
Repentance means to change your mind about something, and in the Old Testament, it has the idea of turning: turning away from idols and turning to God. That’s the idea. It is not an emotional term. It is a volitional term. It is a term that emphasizes your choice.
We see with Judas that now he is overwhelmed with the emotional consequences of his decision, and that is because he is pierced through with guilt. Let’s talk about guilt just a little bit. We have to understand what we mean by guilt, because this is a term that has some different nuances, and some people are not always sure about what these differences are.
First of all, we can talk about guilt in the sense of real guilt or objective guilt: that when you have violated the law, you are guilty of breaking the law.
Now you may be driving 35 in a 30, and you don’t feel too badly about that. You may be on the highway taking your “Texas 10”—you’re 10 miles an hour over the speed limit—and you don’t feel badly about that at all.
What you will feel badly about is when you get a $200 ticket. Then you have METAMELOMAI. I know you. You’re like me. In Texas we have that regret and remorse, but three days later we’re doing the same thing again, because we need to get somewhere in a hurry. That’s just remorse; that is not repentance.
There are some people who, when they get a $300 or $400 ticket, they may have METANOIA, and they change what they’re doing. They just quit speeding, and they start using their speed control a little more efficiently.
Real guilt or legal guilt is simply when we violate a rule or a law or a standard. Then we have guilt, and we may or may not feel guilty. We may or may not feel remorse or feel badly about it, depending on the circumstances.
A lot of times people think that they need to feel guilty about a sin, but the reality is that there are some sins that we’re comfortable with, and there are some sins that we know it’s a sin and we really work hard not to commit that sin. But when we do commit that sin, we just can’t get as worked up about it emotionally as we did maybe the first time we committed that sin. We really felt badly about that, and we were sort of shocked at ourselves that we did that and realize that, “That really is gossip; that’s terrible.”
Then after you have gossiped 10,832 times, that 10,833rd time, you just don’t get all worked up and emotional about it like you did when you were young and you realized that you could actually commit that sin of gossip.
That’s the difference between true guilt, and guilt feelings. Guilt feelings are when we know that we’ve done something terrible, and we’re overwhelmed with unpleasant feelings of regret and remorse. The intensity of that may vary according to the situation and the circumstances.
Sometimes we have guilt feelings even when we haven’t done anything. Some people have sensitive consciences in some areas, and they just feel guilty because. You often hear about Catholic guilt or Jewish guilt. Various ethnic groups talk about the fact that if you grow up in an Italian family or Jewish family, you just grow up being made to feel guilty about everything all the time, whether you really did anything or not.
So, guilt becomes a primary motive in life and that’s just guilt feelings. What we have here is a case where there is real guilt, but there is also guilt feelings. But there’s only one thing to do with guilt feelings, and that’s to seek forgiveness. That means, Scripture says, to confess sin or to believe in the gospel. There’s only one Person who can forgive sin.
Sin is not a crime. Some sins might be crimes, but sin per se is not a crime. Sin is a violation, not of secular law or civil law, sin is the violation of God’s character. I really can’t sin against you, and you can’t sin against me. First and foremost, we sin against God, and then there may be secondary effects in terms of our horizontal relationships.
When David had committed adultery with Bathsheba, then he conspired to cover it up and had her husband, Uriah, put in the front lines of combat, so he would be killed. And he sought to cover this up, he committed sins that impacted people in terms of horizontal relationship.
But when he confessed his sin in Psalm 51, he said to God, “Against You and You alone have I sinned,” because the definition of sin is to violate God’s standard, to violate God’s character; and so therefore, sin is only a violation against God.
When we sin, we have to seek forgiveness only from God. Now if that sin affects other people, then sometimes we need to go to those other people, and we need to make things right with those other people as well.
What happened here with Judas is what happens with many people who don’t understand or don’t want to go to God for forgiveness, is that instead of going to Jesus for forgiveness as Peter did, what Judas did was to go to the chief priests. He tried to solve the problem of his guilt feelings by giving back the money, as if he could turn back what he had done.
He is going to take those 30 pieces of silver and think that if he just gives that back, that somehow that will make everything right. But that’s not what happens. What happens is that he goes to them and takes the money to them, and then they reject it.
In Matthew 27:4 he says, “… I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” He’s making an accurate confession. He understands exactly what he has done. He admits to what he has done. The problem is he’s not admitting it to God. He’s admitting it to the chief priests and Pharisees, and it doesn’t matter what they think, and they don’t care.
He said, “ ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘What is that to us? You see to it!’ ” You take care of your own situation!
What he does at that point is to try to get rid of this money. There are so many people who try all kinds of different gimmicks and different things to try to absolve themselves of guilt or guilt feelings, when the only thing you can do is, if you need to, trust Christ as your Savior.
If you’re already a Christian, then you just confess sin. 1 John 1:9 says that “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
That means that if you keep feeling guilty about that sin, you’re just piling it on. Now you’re committing another sin that’s related to that first sin. But this sin is that you’re saying by your guilt feelings that “God really didn’t forgive me. I have to continue to feel guilty.”
If you believe God forgave you and cleansed you of that sin, then you don’t go on feeling guilty. It’s been handled; it’s been taken to the throne of God, and you have been forgiven. Now you need to move on and go forward in your spiritual life.
Judas doesn’t understand any of that because he is not a believer, so the way he’s going to handle it is he’s going to in a sense “stick it” to the chief priests. Now you don’t really get that reading it in the English, but it says, “Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple.”
The way you might read that is that he has gone to them, and they say, “That doesn’t mean anything to us. Go handle it yourself,” and that he just gets mad and throws the money at them. But that’s not what happens.
It says in the Greek that he threw the pieces of silver into the temple and uses the Greek word NAOS. There are two words that are used for “temple” in the Greek: There is the word HIEROS, which refers to the broad temple. All of the temple buildings in the precincts, in the courtyards, all of that would be referred to by HIEROS. But the word NAOS refers to the temple in the middle, the centerpiece, the holy place and the Holy of Holies.
So he goes specifically to throw this money into the NAOS to force the chief priests to sully their hands and dirty their hands by having to go in there and pick up the blood money. He’s forcing them to deal with it. They said, “You see to it!” He said, “No, you’re going to deal with it.”
He throws the money into the temple, and he leaves, and he goes out and he hangs himself. Why does he hang himself? I think this is because of the guilt feelings that he has because he knows enough of Scripture to understand that he has committed this egregious sin and he is under such guilt that he is under the judgment and the cursing of God.
He remembers in the Old Testament that if somebody is hung on a tree, that person is said to be cursed. His body is not to remain on the tree overnight, according to Deuteronomy 21:23, “… but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” Because he is accursed of God, he goes out and he hangs himself.
That leads to a realization of fulfilled prophecy:
Matthew 27:6–8, “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.”
This is one of those apparent contradictions that we find in Scripture. It appears that there are two different stories about who bought the land. It says here that “they consulted together and bought with them …”—that is with the 30 pieces of silver—“… the potter’s field to bury strangers in.”
Now let me tell you a little bit about this potter’s field. They called it a potter’s field because it was an area near the Valley of Hinnom—Gehenna—that had this rich clay in the soil that was used in pottery. This was a place where the potters set up their shop and probably refers back to a passage in Jeremiah where it talks about the potter, and that this area was where they would get their pottery, and so it came to be called “The Potter’s Field”.
When they purchased this, it’s used to bury strangers. That’s a euphemism for Gentiles. If a Gentile comes into Jerusalem and dies and there’s no family, then this is where they would bury them, and because it’s associated with the price of blood, it’s called the “Field of Blood”.
Here the alleged contradiction is that the chief priests bought the field, but in Acts 1:18, when Peter is talking, he says, “Now this man …”—referring to Judas—“… purchased a field with the wages of iniquity …”
Now isn’t that a contradiction? Not if you understand what’s going on. That money is his money; it was given him by the chief priests. When he threw it into the temple, they’re not accepting that money. That’s not their money. That is still his money.
They can’t use it for anything that’s related to the temple or anything related to the priesthood, so they have to figure out what they’re going to do with this money. So, they’re going to use his money to buy a burial place for him, so he purchases it.
He purchased it in Acts 1:18. It’s his money, so it’s viewed as his purchase, but they’re the agents, as it were, so they’re identified in Matthew 27. This is just an idiom, where the person who is involved is mentioned as the one who carries out the purchase, the transaction.
There’s a second alleged contradiction, and that is that in Matthew 27:5, says that he hanged himself. In the Acts account, it says that he fell headlong and burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. That’s a fairly vivid picture, but if you’re used to watching some of the shows on TV related to homicide—CSI and all those stories—it’s not too graphic, not much of a surprise.
So, critics will come along and say, “See the Bible’s got two different accounts here,” but they’re not mutually contradictory. There are two rather satisfying explanations for this, and I’m not sure which of them is true.
Remember, this is early in the morning of the day that they’re going to sacrifice Jesus, and the day they’re going to sacrifice the lambs for Passover, so it’s a holy day. Judas could have gone down to the area of the Valley of Hinnom, and he could have hung himself, and his body was not discovered.
And they can’t do anything with it, even if they do discover it, until Shabbat is over. If that body’s hanging there in the sun for more than 24 hours, it’s going to start to decompose, it’s going to start to bloat, gases will build up things like that, and then the branch breaks and he falls down and burst open. That’s one explanation that I think, it’s logical; it seems to fit.
The other explanation is that he hung himself within the precincts of Jerusalem, and because it is a holy day, anyone who dies, whose body is left in the precincts of Jerusalem, that would make the whole city unclean. You can’t have that happen. So, his body is discovered, and they threw him over the wall, and as a result of that, he burst open.
Those are the two explanations that are offered. Since the Bible doesn’t go into any more detail, they both satisfy the data showing that both can be true. Judas hangs himself, and then what happens to his body after he dies is what’s explained in Acts 1:18.
We have another statement related to the fulfillment of prophecy. In Matthew 27:9 we’re told, “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying …”—and this is the quote— “ ‘And they took the 30 pieces of silver, the value of him who is priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.’ ”
That’s a prophecy of Zechariah 11:12 that is fulfilled in Jesus, one of many prophecies fulfilled during this time frame.
I’ve read a number of different explanations. Most of the explanations say, “Well, there’s just a contradiction here and there is an error, either a copyist error or something like that because this quote actually comes from Zechariah 11:12, and Matthew writes it “was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet.”
Again, there are, I think, two acceptable satisfactory explanations. I’m more satisfied with the first one I will give you and not as satisfied with the second:
The first one is that the Old Testament was divided up into three sections: the Torah; the Nevi’im, the Prophets; and Ketuvim, the Writings. At this particular time there is evidence that in the rabbinical collection, that the first book in the Nevi’im was Jeremiah, so Jeremiah was used as a designation for all of the books in the Nevi’im.
Just as Moses is said to be the writer of the Torah: sometimes it says, “Moses said,” and it may be in Genesis, and it may be in one of the other books. Moses is the author there, so here it could be that. That, to me, is the most logical explanation.
Another explanation—and I think this is a little more convoluted—is that since Judas hung himself in the Valley of Hinnom in Gehenna and Gehenna was cursed by Jeremiah in Chapters 15, 18, and 19. Because this is where the Israelites sacrifice their children to the false gods, and Jeremiah announces that they will be judged, the residents of Jerusalem will be judged because of this.
It is there in the Valley of Hinnom that they will be killed, and they will be buried, and so he is speaking of Gehenna, and this curse of Gehenna, and so that’s what is being alluded to here is that this curse. I find that a little more convoluted, but I think it is satisfactory for some people.
The point from this is that Judas’ guilt is not resolved because he has denied his Savior. He has not gone to God for forgiveness. So, it’s not that he has committed an unforgivable sin, but that he has not believed in Christ, which is the only way to have forgiveness of sin and to have our condemnation removed by the grace of God.
That’s the gospel: that we can have our sins forgiven, we become born again simply by faith alone in Christ alone.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to come together, to reflect upon Your Word. The lesson that we learn here and realize is that suicide is not a special sin. It’s just another sin, and that it is the result of, in this case, of a compound of sins.
“Father, we pray that if there is anyone who is wrestling with that, thinking that maybe a loved one has committed suicide, in thinking that that’s an unforgivable sin, that they will realize that that is not so, that all sin has been paid for by Christ on the Cross, and the issue is simply belief in the gospel, trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior.
“We pray that anyone listening who has never trusted in Christ as Savior that they would take this opportunity to do so and to believe that Jesus died on the Cross for their sins. Therefore, they will experience the forgiveness and regeneration in their life, and that they would be freed from the guilt feelings and recognize that their guilt has been erased.
“Father, we pray that You would challenge us with what we have learned today, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”