O Jesus, Savior of my life,
My hope, my joy, my sacrifice,
I’ve searched and found no other one
Who loves me more than you have done. (John 15:13)
No condemnation now I dread
Because you went for me instead
To bear the Father’s hell-bent rage,
To pay the debt I would have paid.
Yet your work finished not with death,
Nor with your final murdered breath.
For death’s blows could not ever quell
The One whose life is in Himself. (John 5:26)
Your passion broke forth full with life,
And foiled the adversary’s wiles.
You broke the chains, destroyed the sting (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
With which death had afflicted me.
O Savior, who died in my stead, (Mark 10:45; Heb. 9:28)
You firstborn from among the dead, (Col. 1:18)
O Savior, you who saved my life, (Matt. 1:21; John 12:47; 1 Cor. 1:21)
Will take me whole to paradise. (Rev. 22:1-7)
So on this resurrection day
I lift my voice with all the saints
And sing with all my ransomed might (1 Tim. 2:6)
Of You, the Savior of my life!
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
(Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)
This Lord’s Day has been a blessing. In actuality when is it not? To consider that the Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God, has allowed us, sinful fallen men, to assemble and present our unworthy worship to Him is humbling in itself, but the fact that God doesn’t take the opportunity to unleash the wrath that we deserve while He has us in one spot is testimony to his patience, mercy, and grace. This is the same patience, mercy, and grace that he did not withhold from his very own son, the spotless, tempted and tried, Son of Man.
Of course, this Easter season, it is right and expected that those of us who have been washed clean by the selfless sacrifice of Jesus reflect on the Passion of Christ that led him to willingly to Golgotha, but as I had the opportunity to reflect on Judas Iscariot since I was blessed to play his cursed role in a service at church, I spent that time reflecting on what we know about this man who was trusted by the rest of the twelve.
Judas, cursed as he was, was part of a sovereign plan that was set in eternity past. We all look at this man with contempt and disdain that he was so calloused and evil that he would sell The Savior to those he knew were plotting to kill him for 30 pieces of silver. I don’t know how much that is worth then or today, nor does it matter, he placed his own evil interest and desire for self gain to high on his list of things he worships that he sold Jesus Christ to those who despised every ounce of his being. Here is the hard part: I am glad he did.
I am glad he did because he fulfilled the sovereign plan of the Triune God to fulfill the prophesy of Zechariah and Jeremiah symbolically with the 30 pieces of silver. It may not seem as though it is an important detail, It would not add or take away from the obvious observations that someone sold the Lord for their gain! But God actually did have this detail in mind, centuries and centuries prior when the prophets alluded to this betrayal in their writings, so praise God for 30 pieces of silver, that led Jesus to Calvary to redeem a fallen world and offer mankind the promise of life. Apart from the grace of almighty God, I would have sold him for less.
Thirty pieces of silver for the Lord of life they gave:
Thirty pieces of silver—only the price of a slave,
But it was the priestly value of the holy One of God:
They weighed it out in the temple, the price of the Saviour’s blood.
Thirty pieces of silver laid in Iscariot’s hand:—
Thirty pieces of silver, and the aid of an armed band,
Like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, led the Holy Son of God
At midnight from the garden where His sweat had been as blood.
Thirty pieces of silver burned in the traitor’s brain:
Thirty pieces of silver! but oh! it is hellish gain:
`I have sinned and betrayed the guiltless,’ he cried with a fevered breath
And he cast them down in the temple and rushed to a madman’s death.
Thirty pieces of silver lay in the House of God:
Thirty pieces of silver, but oh! ’twas the price of blood.
And so, for a place to bury the stranger in, they gave
The price of their own Messiah Who lay in a borrowed grave.
It may not be for silver: it may not be for gold;
But still by tens of thousands is this precious Saviour sold.—
Sold for a godless friendship, sold for a selfish aim,
Sold for a fleeting trifle, sold for an empty name!
Sold in the mart of science! sold in the seat of power!
Sold at the Shrine of Fortune! sold in Pleasure’s bower!
Sold, where the awful bargain none but God’s eye can see:
Ponder, my soul, the question, ‘Shall He be sold by thee?’
Sold! O God, what a moment! stifled is conscience’ voice:
Sold! and a weeping angel records the awful choice:
Sold! but the price of the Saviour to a living coal shall turn,
With the pangs of remorse for ever deep in the soul to burn.
(Exod. 21. 32; Zech. 11. 12, 13; Matt. 26. 15; 27. 3, 4)
Still, as of old, man by himself is priced:
For thirty silver pieces Judas sold himself, not Christ.
(Matt. 27. 3, 4; Acts 1. 18)
Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God. Whatever we build our life on will drive us and enslave us. Sin is primarily idolatry.
All those who do not at all times trust God and do not in all their works or sufferings, life and death, trust in His favor, grace and good-will, but seek His favor in other things or in themselves, do not keep this [First] Commandment, and practice real idolatry, even if they were to do the works of all the other Commandments, and in addition had all the prayers, obedience, patience, and chastity of all the saints combined. For the chief work is not present, without which all the others are nothing but mere sham, show and pretense, with nothing back of them… If we doubt or do not believe that God is gracious to us and is pleased with us, or if we presumptuously expect to please Him only through and after our works, then it is all pure deception, outwardly honoring God, but inwardly setting up self as a false [savior]…
Martin Luther from “A Treaties on Good Works”
Because we are, each of us, the image of God, we will worship, in fact we must worship, someone or something, either our original, as we should, or, with the illusion that we are the original or our own ultimate point of reference, ourselves. If the latter, we will give ourselves over, with the full, still efficient resources of our imaging capacities, to some figment, some distorted image, focused on ourselves or on some aspect of the world, ultimately seen as an extension of ourselves. What Calvin observed long ago is no less true today: the human heart, our image-bearing and image-fashioning nature, is an idol factory.
Richard Gaffin from “Speech and the Image of God” in The Pattern of Sound Doctrine