Matthew is the only Gospel author to include this story of Judas:
“When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’

‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.“

In context, this story is included because it emphasizes Jesus’ innocence. For example, Matthew alone records Pilate’s hand washing scene, and his wife’s warning to “have nothing to do with that innocent man” because of a dream she had about Jesus.

So Jesus’ innocence only adds to Judas’ despair, which is striking for its utter hopelessness. Having rejected Jesus, he himself is rejected by his co-conspirators, and finds no mercy under the Law for his sin. He was in clear violation of Deuteronomy 27:35: “Cursed is the man who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.”

Knowing that the Law says that “the soul that sins shall die,” Judas becomes his own executioner, attempting to right his wrong, or at least escape his shame, by taking his life.

Despair becomes hopelessness when it turns in on itself rather than looking away to God. Judas had seen Jesus’ miracles, heard His sermons, and knew of His compassion in dealing with sinners. Further, he was aware that Jesus had come to “give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

But none of that moves us unless we believe that God is a God of mercy and grace, ready to forgive even the worst of sinners. Only then can we leave our self-absorption and trust Him as “a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Judas needed an outward look. Jesus told Nicodemus (John 3) that “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” Those dying from the serpent’s bite had only to “Look and live!”

When we turn inward, it’s easy to despair, for we see only our sin and just condemnation. But looking to Jesus, we find forgiveness, hope, and peace in His grace. This is why He came and why He deals so tenderly and compassionately with all sinners who come to Him. Matthew 11:28-30

When you have sinned and need forgiveness, you are not hopeless.
Look to Jesus and live!

“At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. . . God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6, 8

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