Judas Iscariot betrayed the Savior of the world. Nevertheless, he still had a conscience that spoke to him. He could not, in good conscience, hold on to the money that he earned by betraying Jesus. He, consequently, cast the pieces of silver into the temple, acknowledging that he had sinned greatly.
Judas was disgusted with what he did. He was so anxious and convicted of his sins that he did not want to live any more. Judas threw the money onto the floor of the temple and went out and hanged himself. We surmise that Judas did not know true repentance. Otherwise, he would not have ended his life.
But, still, before the tribunal of human dignity and conscience, Judas was not the worst. There are not that many people who loath their own deeds and sincerely revisit that which they have done wrong. On the contrary, most people cover up their evil deeds or they blame the circumstances they were in for their actions. And there are not many people, like Judas, who are undone because of sins they commit. Let no one think he is better than Judas, for it is easy to look down on this traitor. It is easy to think that we would never do such a thing. But, by nature, Christ is also, to us, of less value than thirty pieces of silver. And the worst matter is that many walk around with a quiet conscience, which had now become impossible for Judas.
Judas said, “I have sinned.” This confession is something we seldom hear. Judas is better than many others who never acknowledge their sin. However, let it be noted that these words from Judas do not originate from true repentance. For Judas admits his guilt before man. He returns to man, but he does not return to Christ.
If we compare this sin of Judas and the sin of Peter, there are similarities. The key difference is that Peter wept bitterly before God’s face, while Judas tried to hide his tears instead of pouring them out before the Lord. Certainly, there would have been forgiveness for Judas. But Judas preferred to thrust himself on the rocks instead of thrusting himself into the arms of God. He would rather commit suicide than die according to justice at God’s feet.
Judas said, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” But, he bypassed the blood that could make him innocent again. He bypassed the atoning blood, which is a covering for all sin. It would even cover his sin if he would acknowledge it. As a first betrayal, Judas betrayed innocent blood. In a second betrayal, he refused the blood that makes one innocent. The first betrayal was of innocent blood. The second betrayal was of cleansing blood. Is it worse to betray an innocent man or to reject cleansing blood?
We can say, “I have sinned,” and, yet, never really confess it before the Lord. We can admit our guilt in our consciences and never acknowledge the need for Christ’s atoning blood. We can admit our guilt, and yet reject free grace. So, it can be that we, like Judas, would rather make an end to ourselves than to surrender ourselves into the hands of the living God. The account of Judas gives us much to reflect upon. And, remember that, if we have learned to stand in need of atoning blood, it is only because of God’s electing love. – Frans Bakker (1919-1965), a meditation on Matthew 27.4a.