Gospel of John [18:36-38]. Christ's trials, part 11. The remorse of Judas.

Class Outline:

Title: Gospel of John [18:36-38]. Christ's trials, part 11. The remorse of Judas.



The priests and elders return to the Temple and are approached by Judas who is guilt ridden and desires to return the 30 pieces of silver.


It would seem that during the mocking of Christ by Herod and his soldiers that the members of the Sanhedrin who accused Him before Herod went back to the Temple. There they likely continued to discuss how they can insight Pilate to crucify Him. You can imagine their angst since both Pilate and Herod considered Jesus innocent and there was the very real possibility that He would be released.


It is likely during this time of deliberation that they are interrupted by Judas who in tremendous guilt desires to return the 30 pieces of silver given to him for delivering Jesus up to them. Only Matthew records this.


MAT 27:3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,


"remorse" - metame,llomai[metamellomai] = to change one's care of something, to stop one thing and do another. Judas did not become a believer. He became guilt ridden.


The priests and elders have their doubts about whether Jesus will be condemned or not, but Judas has gotten the word from the street, as rumor has travailed the city, that Jesus went from Annas to Caiaphas to Pilate and then to Herod, so how could He escape condemnation.


MAT 27:4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!"


Judas' remorse is not one of repentance to believing that Christ is Savior but the remorse of his conscience as any murderer might have. The murderer who hopes that what he has done was just a bad dream and who would give all to undo his decision to kill in that moment is the type of remorse that Judas feels. People are not saved by remorse, but only through faith in Christ.


MAT 26:21 And as they were eating, He said, "Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me." 


MAT 26:22 And being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, "Surely not I, Lord?"


MAT 26:23 And He answered and said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me.


MAT 26:24 "The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born." 


If Judas did become a believer then Christ wouldn't have said this.


MAT 26:25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "You have said it yourself."


MAT 27:3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,


MAT 27:4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!"


He must get rid of the silver. The weight of it is a constant reminder of the weight upon his conscience. He rushed towards the sanctuary probably to the Court of Israel and hurled the silver pieces into the court, resounding as they hit the marble pavement.


MAT 27:5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.




Out he rushed from the Temple, out of Jerusalem, into solitude. Down into the horrible solitude of the Valley of Hinnom, the Tophet of old where under the Canaanite Pantheon, human child sacrifices were offered to Moloch and Baal by burning them alive. Here, Ahaz, twelfth king of Judah made idols, burned incense, and offered his sons as sacrifices to Baal. Likewise Manasseh, fourteenth king of Judah, burned his sons as an offering here to the Ammonite deity Moloch. Here the bodies of criminals and dead animals were cast and likely all the refuse from the city to be burned by fire. This place would later become the symbol of hell itself. The south slope of the east end of this valley is the traditional site of the Potter's field that was purchased by the elders with the silver they considered to be blood money and so still in the possession of Judas. It was here that the bodies of foreigners and pilgrims were buried.  In this area jagged rocks rise perpendicularly and Judas, hanging himself from a tree, likely fell upon one of these rocks after he choked to death and burst open upon this field, which came to be appropriately known as the field of blood.


ACT 1:18-20

(Now this man acquired a field with the price of his wickedness; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all who were living in Jerusalem; so that in their own language that field was called Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)


MAT 27:5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.


MAT 27:6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, "It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood."


MAT 27:7 And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter's Field as a burial place for strangers.


MAT 27:8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.


MAT 27:9 Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel;


MAT 27:10 and they gave them for the Potter's Field, as the Lord directed me."


There has been much debate over the mention by Matthew that this is Jeremiah's prophecy when it would seem that it was Zechariah who made it.


Zechariah prophesied in 520 BC, just after the return of the exiles from Babylon. Zechariah was asked by God to assume the role of shepherd to Israel and in this he becomes a type of Christ. It is not likely that he actually assumed the position of shepherd of Israel but played the part in his teaching them - all of this pointing to Israel's rejection of their Messiah. As shepherd he took two staffs called Favor and Union. The flock would not receive Zechariah as her shepherd and so he broke the first staff called Favor, indicating that Israel no longer was in favor with God. Since they rejected him, he asked for his pay and they gave him 30 pieces of silver; the price of a slave.


EXO 21:32

If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.


Zechariah threw the money to the potter in the temple who was employed by the priests to make certain vessels for the temple.


ZEC 11:12 And I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.


ZEC 11:13 Then the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them [sarcasm]." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.


ZEC 11:14 Then I cut my second staff, Union, in pieces, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.


Zechariah is the Lord's appointed shepherd who is representing Him and giving His word to the people and they value him at 30 pieces of silver. The Sanhedrin valued Christ as the same, the price of a slave. This is certainly prophetic type of Judas' betrayal but it is not completely followed. The money was given to Judas, not the Shepherd and then Judas threw the money into the temple. He did not give the money to a potter, but the money eventually went to the priests who used it to purchase the potter's field. Matthew is certainly referring to this, but he is also referring to something that Jeremiah prophesied about 100 years prior to Zechariah.


Matthew refers to the prophecy of Jer 19 which became more detailed in Zec 11, but he only mentions Jeremiah in his gospel.


JER 19:1 Thus says the Lord, "Go and buy a potter's earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests.


JER 19:2 "Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate; and proclaim there the words that I shall tell you,


Jeremiah prophesies from this very spot in which valley resides the future potter's field that the priests would purchase with Judas' earnings.  


JER 19:3 and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, "Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.


JER 19:4 "Because they have forsaken Me and have made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to other gods that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent


MAT 27:4

saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood."


JER 19:5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind;


JER 19:6 therefore, behold, days are coming, "declares the Lord," when this place will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter.


JER 19:7 "And I shall make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and I shall cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life; and I shall give over their carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.


JER 19:8 "I shall also make this city a desolation and an object of hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters.


JER 19:9 "And I shall make them eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another's flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them."'


JER 19:10 "Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you [Judas burst open]


JER 19:11 and say to them,' Thus says the Lord of hosts, "Just so shall I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired [Israel will never be restored as God's nation until the second coming of Christ]; and they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.


JER 19:12 "This is how I shall treat this place and its inhabitants," declares the Lord, "so as to make this city like Topheth.


JER 19:13 "And the houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to all the heavenly host and poured out libations to other gods."'"


As Judas is outside the gate hanging himself Jesus has been led back from Herod to Pilate at the Praetorium. Pilate again pronounces Him as doing nothing worthy of death in agreement with Herod. He seeks a compromise and suggests punishing Him, which to the Romans was a flogging, and then releasing Him. This is a disaster to the Sanhedrin, and as we know, He can't be released as it is not in accordance with the plan of the Father.


LUK 23:13 And Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people,


LUK 23:14 and said to them, "You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.


LUK 23:15 "No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him.


LUK 23:16 "I will therefore punish Him and release Him."


It is at this point that the priests and elders discuss the custom of Passover in which the Romans would release one Jewish prisoner. It is likely that this was discussed between the religious leaders and Pilate before Jesus was sent to Pilate. It is brought up again but by this time a crowd has gathered outside the Praetorium for the spectacle of a prisoner release. The leaders and/or their cronies would have been busy mingling amongst the crowd and selling them on the release of Barabbas and the plan of Caiaphas that it is expedient that one man die than for the Romans to destroy all of them. Probably the most successful sales pitches occur when you can convince your customers of the likelihood of imminent death if they don't buy what you're selling.


So we move to the final part of Christ's time before Pilate and before the religious leaders and the Jews in Jerusalem celebrating the Passover (by demanding the crucifixion of the Son of God).


Trial 1: Annas

Trial 2: Caiaphas in the evening

Trial 3: Caiaphas in the morning

Trial 4: Pilate

Trial 5: Herod

Trial 6: Pilate, priests and elders, Jerusalem mob.


JOH 18:39 "But you have a custom, that I should release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?"


JOH 18:40 Therefore they cried out again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas." Now Barabbas was a robber.


"robber" - lhste,s[liestes] = one who plunders openly and by violence. Josephus habitually uses this word for Zealot insurgents.


In MAR 15:27 and MAT 27:38 the same word is used of the two men who were crucified along with Jesus.


MAR 15:6 Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested.


MAR 15:7 And the man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection.


The fact that Barabbas is equated with other insurrectionists who had committed murder makes it very likely that he and the other two Zealot insurrectionists were to be crucified.


That morning on Cavalry it was originally going to be murderer #1, Barabbas, and murderer #2. Christ took Barabbas' place in the center.


We have no further account of this particular insurrection, but the reference is probably to some recent outbreak of militant resistance against the Roman occupation. There is no little irony in the fact that the man whose release was granted had been convicted of the same kind of offense as that with which Jesus was now charge; the irony, we may be sure, was not lost on Pilate.


Barabbas - "son of the father." Not likely his real name. He represents the entire human race as we deserved to be on that center cross but Christ took our place.


We are all sons of a father. Christ was not for through the virgin birth Joseph did not qualify as His rightful father. The one born into this world without an earthly father took the judgment upon Himself for all who were born of an earthly father.


MAR 15:8 And the multitude went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.


MAR 15:9 And Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?"


/Pilate uses the title "King of the Jews" in announcing Christ as well as in writing upon the cross just to get under the skin of the Jews whom he distained. \


MAR 15:10 For he was aware that the chief priests had delivered Him up because of envy.


MAR 15:11 But the chief priests stirred up the multitude to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead.


/Pilate again states that Jesus has done nothing worthy of death.\


LUK 23:18 But they cried out all together, saying, "Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!"


LUK 23:19 (He was one who had been thrown into prison for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder.)


LUK 23:20 And Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again,


LUK 23:21 but they kept on calling out, saying, "Crucify, crucify Him!"


LUK 23:22 And he said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; I will therefore punish Him and release Him."


LUK 23:23 But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail.


/Pilate now sits on the judgment seat and a message comes from his wife about her dream, and the warning entreaty to have nothing to do 'with that righteous man.' \


MAT 27:19 And while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."


An omen such as a dream, and an appeal connected with it, especially in the circumstances of that trial, would  powerfully impress a Roman. But this next pause given to Pilate was overwhelmed by the increasing clamor of the crowd for the release of Barabbas.


MAT 27:20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Barabbas, and to put Jesus to death.


MAT 27:21 But the governor answered and said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas."


MAT 27:22 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let Him be crucified!"


MAT 27:23 And he said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they kept shouting all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!"


That such a cry should have been raised, and raised by Jews, and before a Roman governor, and against Jesus the Christ, are in themselves almost inconceivable facts, to which the history of these 19 centuries has made a terrible echo. In vain Pilate expostulated, reasoned, and appealed.


/Popular frenzy only grows as it is opposed.\


MAT 27:24 And when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves."


/The passing off of guilt to another is reenacted from the Garden of Eden from the Sanhedrin to Judas and Pilate to the Sanhedrin - "See to that yourself." \


MAT 27:4 saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." But they said, "What is that to us? See to that yourself!"


The priests and elders and Pilate state that they are innocent of the matter so the other party should see to their own guilt themselves. Adam blamed the woman and the Lord and the woman blamed the serpent (the devil made me do it). Sometimes taking responsibility and doing the right thing has its own consequences. To attempt to avoid the proper consequences for doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing (lying and blaming) is to only acquire different consequences that are always worse. The truth sets us free. It is always better to take the path of truth no matter what the consequences are.


Amazingly the Jews did not recognize the significance of this act, but then again, a frenzied mob does not recognize much outside of its one objective.


/The washing of hands in order to portray innocence or cleansing of wrongdoing is truly a Jewish rite, of which obviously Pilate is aware.\


He's been governing Jews for almost 10 years. The fact that such a thing was done in front of the Jews by a Roman should have appealed to them more forcibly.


Yet this in no way would make Pilate innocent. No amount of washing could do so. One legend tells that in storms on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland his ghost comes out and still washes his hands in the storm-clouds. In Shakespeare used this imagery in Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth dreams of the blood on her hands as she sleepwalks and incessantly washes them to no avail saying, "Out damned spot, I say." Pilate will commit suicide in less than 10 years from this time.


Notice what their law states:


DEU 21:1 "If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has struck him,


DEU 21:2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the slain one.


DEU 21:3 And it shall be that the city which is nearest to the slain man, that is, the elders of that city, shall take a heifer of the herd, which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke;


DEU 21:4 and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which has not been plowed or sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley.


DEU 21:5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them.


DEU 21:6 And all the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley;


DEU 21:7 and they shall answer and say,' Our hands have not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it.


If they or any one of them is lying and they have committed the murder then the discipline of God will be upon them.


DEU 21:8 'Forgive Thy people Israel whom Thou hast redeemed, O Lord, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Thy people Israel.' And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them.


DEU 21:9 So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.


/PSA 26:6

I shall wash my hands in innocence,

And I will go about Thine altar, O Lord, \


/DEU 19:8

So innocent blood will not be shed in the midst of your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and bloodguiltiness be on you.\


Let's keep an eye on DEU 21:9 as we turn back to Mat.


/DEU 21:9

So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.\


MAT 27:25 And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children!"


In less than forty years their city and temple were overthrown and destroyed. More than a million of the people perished in the siege. Thousands died by famine; thousands by disease; thousands by the sword; and their blood ran down the streets like water, so that, Josephus says, it extinguished things that were burning in the city. Thousands were CRUCIFIED suffering the same punishment that they had inflicted on the Messiah. So great was the number of those who were crucified, that, Josephus says, they were obliged to cease from it, "room being wanted for the crosses, and crosses for the men." He also stated that the hillsides were barren of trees from the making of so many crosses.


The Jews, led by the Zealots, revolted against the Roman garrison in the city in 66 AD and expelled them from the city. 30,000 Roman troops were sent to take back the city and they were ambushed on the way by the Jews and completely defeated. The Zealot leaders contended that they had finally gotten what they had always wanted and what God wanted for them, independence. The following winter Vespasian arrived with his son Titus and beginning in Galilee they began a murderous rampage in town after town killing tens of thousands including woman and children, the best of which were taken into slavery. Jewish refugees fled south. Town by town the Romans went south for two years causing the refugees to flee south to their last place of refuge, the thick walls of Jerusalem. The Romans would meet them there and the city would be fully ravaged and the temple completely destroyed. Within the city, during the Roman siege, different groups of Zealots controlled different parts of the city. They killed each other and burned each other's food supply so that many starved when they had adequate grain for years that was burned by jealous, rivaling groups of Jews. The Roman's finished off the rest. Some were disemboweled to check for gold or precious stones that they might have swallowed. The massacre was enormous. They certainly got the curse that they had asked for.




MAT 27:26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.