Thirty Pieces of Silver

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It’s Easter weekend. Time for dyeing Easter eggs, sporting our pastels and sandals (if you live in the South, that is), and for those who aren’t particularly religious, it’s a time to make it a point to go to church with family.

For those of us who take our relationship with God seriously, Easter, like every Sunday when we participate in communion, is a somber time to remember the sacrifice Christ made on our behalf.

While reading the accounts of the last few days and agonizing death of my Lord, I’m still brought to tears. The fact that He was God and yet so human makes me feel so close to Him through all of the excruciating pain, fear, and anxiety He experienced. I’m always amazed at how eagerly and wholeheartedly the people begged for and rejoiced in His physical execution.  It’s kind of the same sensation I experience when I study history of the Holocaust and shudder at just how many scores of people believed a lie and passionately followed, blindly, as their leader dictated to obliterate millions of innocent human beings. How could they not see how heinous Hitler’s plan and execution of that plan was? Similarly, how could the Hebrew people of Jesus’ time not see the love and the miraculous wonders that surrounded the Son of God? Did they just choose to be blind to the obvious?

Much more than even that, I cannot comprehend how someone who remained physically close to the Savior throughout his ministry, following Him as a disciple, could betray Him. We can reasonably infer that Judas watched as Jesus performed hundreds of miracles. Raising the dead, healing the sick, feeding 5000 with next to nothing, and so much more. He listened during all those intimate times after long days of teaching and healing as Jesus talked about His Father and the place He was preparing in heaven for those who serve Him. He watched as Jesus walked on the water like it was solid ground.

Doubtless, Judas didn’t have to ever question if this man was truly the Messiah. He knew deep within his heart that he was in the very physical presence of the Son of God.

And yet, despite that solid assurance, he sold my Lord for 30 pieces of silver to people he knew would berate, abuse, humiliate, and slaughter Him—the Holy Lamb of God.

As I understand it (I hope Bible scholars will correct me), 30 pieces of silver is the equivalent of about $950 today. At that time, it would have been enough to purchase a small farm. It wasn’t going to give him significant riches or fame. It wasn’t going to give him a life free of labor. It wasn’t going to give him any clout as a great, revered figure.  What material desire could have been so important for Judas to betray the Son of God for $950? What kind of earthly trade, no matter how great, could compare to a life eternal with God? Was his trade worth it? Even for a moment, did Judas feel like it was worth it? He obviously thought it would be, as this was a premeditated agenda of selfishness and greed.

As ludicrous and gut wrenchingly shallow as that trade seems to you and I, many of us make similar trades that give Judas a run for his money.

Judas was willing to trade a relationship with God and a home in heaven for 30 pieces of silver.

What’s your 30 pieces of silver?

Is it materialism? Are you so concerned with climbing the corporate ladder, making a profit and planning your retirement that you don’t take the time to study and grow in your knowledge of God’s will for your life? Are you so focused on saving and hoarding what you earn that you don’t share what you have with those in need or to help the church in her works?

Is it pleasure? Are you giving in to Satan’s ploys to temporarily indulge your appetite for sexual fulfillment? Are you trading a relationship with God for a few minutes of pleasure here and there engaging in sexual activity that you think no one knows about? Maybe even when you’re completely alone in the privacy of your home? Maybe it’s an addiction you’re dealing with, whether it be pornography or sex outside of a God approved marriage. Is feeding that addiction rather than repenting and seeking help more important to you than a home in heaven?

Is it peer pressure? Are you so concerned with being “politically correct” that you’re willing to defend and embrace the sins of others in the name of “tolerance”? Are you so worried about being accepted by a majority that you’re willing to trade an eternity with God for a few short years of popularity and comfort on earth?

Maybe your 30 pieces of silver is entertainment. Maybe you’re so obsessed with the nation’s top movies, shows, and books that you don’t really care if they’re filled with profanity, promiscuity, lasciviousness, and glorified worldliness. Maybe you choose to block out whatever your conscience, or Christians concerned for your soul, as the case may be, say about the dangers of numbing your heart and mind to the media’s infatuation with sin. Maybe you tell yourself it doesn’t affect you. Even if your entertainment choices are pure and wholesome, are you spending more time invested in entertainment (movies, books, TV shows, music) than you invest in Bible study, prayer, and the church? Is it more important that you make it to that ball game or that vacation destination than it is to be present for the services of the Lord’s church? Is it more important to catch up on your favorite show than it is to catch up on your Bible study? Is spending time just hanging out with your friends more important to you than teaching them how to get to heaven?

Perhaps you’ve fallen into society’s mold of obsession over self. Perhaps your quest for culture’s definition of happiness, beauty, and comfort is your 30 pieces of silver. Perhaps you’d rather focus your attention on making yourself feel good that you’re just simply apathetic about Jesus. Christianity is just something you do, rather than being who you are.

Whatever your 30 pieces of silver is, you will one day look back on this short moment of an earthy life and ask yourself as you stand alone in the presence of God to hear him declare your eternal fate, was it worth it?

Judas realized moments after he heard the sound of those coins dropping in his greedy, bloodstained hands that no amount of earthly gain was worth betraying the Son of God, but it was too late. The deed was done.

Will we recognize the horror of our wicked trade before it’s too late? Or will we have to stand before God, just like Judas, and admit that we were willing to trade everything Christ died to give us for our 30 pieces of silver?

Hebrews 6:4-6 says “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the holy spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt.”

I am Judas every time I sin. It’s my greedy, bloodstained hands that crucify afresh the Son of God.

Don’t fall into Judas’ trap. Whatever your 30 pieces of silver is, however much that means to you, it’s not worth it. It’s not a fair trade. It will never be a worthwhile investment.