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After describing how Jesus was sentenced to death by the ruling body of the Jews, Matthew now interrupts his account of Jesus’ passion to relate what happened to Judas who had betrayed Him.  It seems clear from his words that Judas did not expect Jesus to be condemned to death, and driven to remorse by the unexpected outcome confessed as sin what he had done and sought to return the 30 pieces of silver.  He likely supposed that as a result of the confrontation Jesus would manifest His Messianic power that he himself had witnessed and believed in, in order to establish the sort of kingdom that he and the rest of the disciples were expecting, and he would be the richer for it.  Caught in a snare of his own sin’s making, he tried to undo the deed, but immediately discovered that the chief priests whom he vainly hoped would not allow an innocent man to be put to death were not interested in justice—they wanted Jesus dead, and had used him to accomplish that very purpose.  What does this teach us about the way that God is able to expose the thoughts, attitudes and motives of people through the deceptive nature of sin that blinds a person, and bring to judgment those whose hearts are not pure through such events and circumstances?  Is this true just in regard to those who from our vantage we see as wicked, such as the religious leaders?  Or is it also true in regard to those whom we might suppose are the very closest to Him, such as Judas?  Is it not then also equally true of ourselves?  Although we may suppose, as Judas did, that the end is clear and because of our proximity to the Savior we can’t go wrong, is that necessarily true if our hearts are not pure?  Because of our limited vantage and fallen nature, shouldn’t we always in humility consider the possibility that there are things we don’t see or understand, that apart from the leading of God’s Spirit could result in a similar surprise ending?  And if our hearts are not pure, is it also possible that we could be deceived that we are being led by God’s Spirit to do His will, when in fact He has given us over to the deceitfulness of our own hearts, as He did to Judas?

What did the chief priests say to Judas in response to his attempt to undo Jesus’ condemnation and rescue Him?  See Mat 27:4b.  What does their response indicate about their desire to escape culpability by making Judas responsible for Jesus’ death?  But whereas Judas’ sin was more like Eve’s in being completely deceived, in what way was that of the religious leaders more like Adam’s in sinning with their eyes wide open?  Whereas Judas’ deception seems to have been that he thought he was helping to establish God’s kingdom as he understood it, what was the deception of the religious leaders in sinning with their eyes wide open?  As in the beginning, could they escape responsibility for their sin by trying to pin it on Judas any more than Adam could by trying to pin it on Eve?  Cf. Gen 3:12, 2Sa 11:15,25, 12:9, 21Ki 21:7-10,17-19.  Can we ever sin and suppose we will get away with it by thinking that someone else is responsible?  Put another way, should we suppose that our sins are justified because of something a friend, parent, spouse, or someone else (even God) did, or because of the way they treated us?[1]

In what way did the religious leaders also seek to make the Romans and Pilate responsible for Jesus’ death, as if plotting their own escape from justice in God’s higher court?  Cf. Joh 19:12, Act 5:28.  But is it ever possible to thwart the true justice of God?  Much rather, with what same words that they had used to pin the responsibility upon Judas did God’s justice fall firmly and with great wrath not just upon their own heads, but upon that of the entire nation?  See Mat 27:20-25, esp. Mat 27:24b.  What does this also remind us about the nature of God’s justice being not just something that will happen in the future, but that is manifested even now upon the earth during our own lifetimes, and the lifetimes of our descendants—even to many generations?  Cf. Deut 5:9, 23:2,3,8.  What impact ought such an understanding of the future implications of our sins—not just upon us but upon others—have upon our desire to understand and obey all of God’s commandments?  Think: What eternal ignominy must those religious leaders bear not just in judgment for what they did to Jesus, but for how that impacted the multitudes of their nation throughout history?  Do we understand that as eternal beings our actions have eternal consequences, whether for good or evil?  In light of such eternal consequences for our children, how important ought we to understand His commands for the family?  Cf. Gen 18:17-19, Col 3:18-21.

Consider then both the hubris of the religious leaders as well as the depths of deceit to which God had given them, that because they were His chosen people and custodians of His law, they were adroit enough to justify murdering the innocent in the name of the Lord to accomplish their own will and purposes, and believed they would escape culpability or judgment by making the riffraff or godless Gentiles responsible.  How did that work out for them?  Should we ever assume that because we are perhaps closer to God than others that we are immune to deception and less bound by His laws of justice even towards our enemies?  Rather, ought we to understand that the greater our closeness to God, the greater our humility must be, lest our pride deceive us as it has so many others in such a position?  Cf. Jam 3:1.

[1] It is a common instance of the deceitfulness of our hearts, to extenuate (palliate) our own sin by the aggravation of other people’s sins. But the judgment of God is according to truth, not according to comparison.  Matthew Henry.

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