The Regret Of Judas Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71; Matthew 27:1-10 Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY September 28, 2003 Rev. Greg L. Price We all have regrets from the past that we would like to wipe forever from our memories. The consequences of sinful words, actions, and decisions from the past may even yet manifest themselves in our lives. Regret is a characteristic that may be found in all mankind, but repentance is a saving grace that is found only in those who have been purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ. Regret expresses a sorrow, but only repentance expresses a godly sorrow that leads to everlasting life. It is important that we understand the difference between regret and repentance if we would know the difference between everlasting condemnation and everlasting life. For those who suffer forever in the torments of hell will have known regret, but they will never have known repentance. Only those who live forever enjoying the glory of Christ in heaven will have known repentance. Peter knew what it was to repent while Judas only knew what it was to regret. This Lord’s Day let us consider what the Spirit of God teaches concerning the difference between regret and repentance. The main points from our text this Lord’s Day are these: (I) Jesus Under The Judgment Of The Whole Sanhedrin (Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71); (II) Judas Under the Judgment Of God (Mark 15:1; Matthew 27:1-10). I. Jesus Under The Judgment Of The Whole Sanhedrin (Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71). A. As we begin chapter 15 of Mark’s Gospel, the Lord is now about to enter The Third Phase before the Jewish Court. You will recall that The First Phase of Christ’s trial was before Annas (the previous high priest) in John 18:13-23. The Second Phase of Christ’s trial was before Caiaphas (the current high priest) in Mark 14:53-65. Now begins The Third Phase of Christ’s trial before “the whole council” (literally “Sanhedrin”) in Mark 15:1. By this time Peter has already denied the Lord 3 times and has left the palace of the high priest heart-broken over what he has just done to His Lord. B. As our text in Mark 15:1 begins, we note that the dawning of Christ’s crucifixion day has now arrived (“And straightway in the morning”). Luke 22:66 states, “And as soon as it was day.” We might suppose it to be between 5 and 6 a.m. at this time of the morning. During the night, the Lord had endured the preliminary interrogation and mockery of justice by Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin. The Lord finally volunteered the information that they desired when He declared Himself to be the Son of God (Mark 14:62). Now that daybreak has arrived, the Sanhedrin convenes again not to conduct any further preliminary investigation, but to formally accuse Christ of blasphemy. Matthew and Mark do not give the contents of this Third Phase, but Luke opens the door to this formal aspect of the trial (in Luke 22:66-71). Let us read this portion of Scripture before addressing what is contained therein. C. This time the Sanhedrin doesn’t waste any time with witnesses, but (in Luke 22:67) goes directly to the question, “Art thou the Christ?” “Are you Israel’s Messiah who was prophesied to come by the prophets in the Scripture?” 1. The Lord reveals the hardness of their hearts by saying (in effect), “Why should I tell you, you won’t believe Me and you won‘t answer the questions I put to you. You only want Me to testify of Myself so that you can condemn Me without witnesses.” 2. He then bears witness to the truth that He is the Son of God (Luke 22:69-71). a. Again the Lord did not remain silent (though He could have), but voluntarily spoke in order that He might go to the cross and suffer for His elect bride the wrath that she deserved. He spoke so that His infinite love for His unworthy bride chosen from all eternity might be made manifest. For His silence would have been His own preservation even though it would have been our condemnation. For without His testimony that He was the eternal Son of God, they could not have falsely accused Him of blasphemy. But, dear ones, His testimony was His own condemnation, but it was our salvation. For it was on the basis of that testimony (which they called blasphemy) that they determined He must die. Remember that to the Jews, to be the Son of God did not make Christ inferior to God, but rather made Christ equal to God i.e. one who possessed the very nature of God Himself (John 5:17,18). b. Dear ones, in looking at these wicked judges, we must never take the spotlight off ourselves. For if left to ourselves and left in our natural rebellion against Christ, we would have condemned the Lord Jesus just as certainly as did the Sanhedrin. We would never have believed the testimony of Christ that He is the Son of God who voluntarily laid down His life for His sheep (apart from the effectual work of God‘s grace in our hearts). Oh, dear ones, it is not the blindness or hardness of heart of these judges of Israel that is truly so amazing. What is truly amazing is that we who were likewise blind judges of Christ, we who condemned Him and spat upon Him (by our words and actions) were loved by Christ, purchased by Christ through His obedience and suffering, and freely granted everlasting life through faith alone in the very One we once condemned. Listen, dear ones, the sins of others should never have the effect of puffing us up with pride as if we are better than they. The sins of others should rather humble us even as we remember that we would be doing the same thing if it were not for the love of Jesus Christ for us and for the gracious power of His Spirit that has granted us faith to receive the testimony of Christ and free offer of salvation. Yes, we should be indignant at sin (beginning with our own) because sin is an affront to the beautiful and glorious holiness of our God. But our sin and the sin of others should also crush our pride as we consider that it was our sin that sent the Lord Jesus into those courts to be subjected to such mockery, hatred, and injustice. He was already suffering for His elect Bride as He was abandoned by His disciples and condemned by the nation of Israel. II. Judas Under the Judgment Of God (Mark 15:1; Matthew 27:110). A. We now turn our attention from the mockery of justice under which the sinless Son of God suffered, to the justice of God under which the betrayer, Judas, now suffered. The only Gospel account that includes this information about Judas is that of Matthew. Thus, let us turn to Matthew 27:1-10 as we consider the awful judgment that fell upon Judas. Let us read this portion of Scripture before considering it more closely. B. Matthew 27:1,2 states essentially what we have already seen in Mark 15:1 concerning The Third Phase of Jewish trial and then prepares us for the next stage in the trial of Christ: the Roman interrogation. C. Neatly, tucked away between the end of the Jewish trial and the beginning of the Roman trial is the account of Judas under the judgment of God (in Matthew 27:3-10). 1. 5). a. It would appear that Judas may have actually sat through the final phase of Christ’s Jewish trial, for we read in Matthew 27:3: “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he SAW that he (Christ) was condemned….” Perhaps it was the obvious unjust treatment of Christ and the outright lies told about Him, or perhaps the bloody head and face of Christ received at the hands of the temple officers that awakened his conscience to the enormity of his sin. All that we know is that after Christ was condemned by the Sanhedrin as worthy of death for His alleged blasphemy in testifying that He was the Son of God, the conscience of Judas so plagued him that he went to the Temple precincts to seek to ease the pangs of his tormented conscience. b. For Matthew 27:3 continues, “when he saw that he (Christ) was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” The full weight of his sin Let us first consider The Regret Of Judas (Matthew 27:3- was weighing down upon Judas, and he felt as if he was drowning in the guilt of his sin. In seeking relief, Judas thought it was the 30 pieces of silver he had received to betray Christ that was pulling him under the waves into that sea of guilt. He must get rid of that blood money (he thought) if he was to be set free from the relentless unremitting condemnation of a guilty conscience. (1) There is a direct grammatical connection between the “repenting” of Judas and the returning of the money. For, literally, it reads, “Having sorrowed, he returned the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” In other words, Judas returned the blood money due to the regret that overwhelmed him. (2) The Greek word used here in Matthew 27:3 for Judas having “repented himself” is not the word ordinarily used for repentance that leads to salvation, but rather is a word which means “regret.” There is obviously intense sorrow and pangs of conscience in the REGRET of Judas, but it does not lead Judas to repentance, forgiveness, or life. For as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “The sorrow of the world worketh death.” Why does the sorrow of the world work death? (a) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it is only sorrow for the bad consequences of sin that have fallen out upon oneself and others. Whereas repentance sorrows over not only the consequences of sin, but sorrows supremely over the offence committed against a holy and yet merciful God--God has been dishonored and it breaks the heart of the one who repents. What do you sorrow over? (b) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it focuses only upon the sin committed and its devastating consequences (even hell itself). Whereas repentance not only looks at the sin committed and its terrible consequences, but also by means of the eye of faith looks to the mercy of God in Christ Jesus as the only remedy to the guilt of sin and the ultimate consequences of sin. Do you focus only upon sin and its consequences, or do you also focus upon the remedy to sin that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ? (c) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it merely HATES the consequences of sin. Whereas repentance HATES not only the consequences of sin, but also the temptation to sin and the sin itself because it is contrary to the revealed will of God. Do you HATE only the consequences of sin (whether being caught, publicly exposed, censured, disciplined, restricted of privileges, or even hell), or do you also HATE the very temptations to sin and the sin that would lead you away from the Savior? (d) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it merely makes promises to behave differently in the future as if bargaining with God. Whereas repentance sincerely endeavors new obedience because of the grace of God in Christ Jesus. There is no bargaining in repentance, there is only a solemn endeavor to show through new obedience, one’s thankfulness to God for the imputed righteousness of Christ, for the free forgiveness of God, and for the everlasting life of the Spirit. Do you bargain with God or do you endeavor to live obediently unto Christ from a thankful heart for the many mercies freely bestowed upon such an unworthy sinner? (e) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it is merely a form of penance wherein I must do something to satisfy the guilt of my sin (whether by confessing my sins as did Judas when he said, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood”, whether by making restitution as did Judas in returning the blood money, or whether by inflicting pain upon myself as did Judas in committing suicide). This is the poisonous teaching of the Romish Church. It is based upon the Covenant of Works rather than upon the Covenant of Grace. Yes, we should confess our sins to the Lord and to others we have offended. Yes, we should make restitution to those that we have injured. But we do not do so in order to satisfy the guilt of our sin in any sense. We confess our sins and make restitution because we would joyfully and thankfully obey our Lord for His mercy and grace and thereby evidence true faith and true repentance. Only the righteousness of Christ in perfectly obeying the law of God for unworthy sinners and in perfectly suffering the wrath of God for condemned sinners can satisfy and remove the guilt of our sin against a holy God. Do you find yourself looking for things you can do to satisfy the guilt of sin or rather appealing to what Christ has done to satisfy the guilt of sin once and for all? (f) The sorrow (or regret) of the world works death because it will never lead to comfort, peace, and joy. It cannot do so, for it can only focus on the sin and the consequences of sin. Only repentance (true biblical repentance) can bring true comfort, peace, and joy, for it looks by faith beyond the sin and the consequences of sin to the mercy of God in Christ Jesus which alone can lift the burden and relieve the condemning conscience. Do you find yourself amazed with sin and its consequences or amazed with the mercy of God in Christ Jesus? Is mourning over sin the end of repentance or is the comfort and communion with Christ the end of repentance? Remember the words of Christ, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). (g) Dear ones, are you regretful over sin in your life or repentant over sin in your life? Those who only exercise regret over sin will like Judas suffer the eternal condemnation of a holy God in hell. Not only will they be unable to satisfy the flames of conscience set on fire in this life, but they will be unable to satisfy the eternal flames of hell that will burn not only in their conscience but will burn their bodies forever as well. However, those who exercise repentance over sin will like Peter receive the forgiveness of God through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ and everlasting life even though they may yet endure the consequences of their sin in this life. c. As we return to our text in Matthew 27, we note that the chief priests and the elders were not impressed with the confession of Judas in verse 4. But here we find further testimony that Christ was not put to death for His own sin, but for the sins of others. For the very disciple who betrayed the Lord into the hands of the Jewish rulers, Judas, confessed that he himself had sinned in betraying one who was innocent of any crime. This did not seem to affect the hardened hearts of these rulers of Israel in the least. If any one should have known whether Christ was deserving of death, one would expect His own disciple who lived and worked with Him for over 3 years to have known this. But even Judas confessed that there was no guilt in Christ. How this demonstrates that the problem with man in rejecting Christ when He is offered to him as Savior is not a lack of evidence or a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of life. Man’s problem is that by nature he is dead in his trespasses and sins and cannot believe until he is graciously called forth from the dead by the power of Christ and given faith even as was Lazarus. d. According to Matthew 27:5, Judas then flings the blood money upon the floor of the temple, but never deals with perhaps the root sin that led to Christ’s betrayal: covetousness. Judas coveted power, fame, and money and when it appeared that Christ would not be securing these desires for him, he turned against Christ and betrayed Him to the Jewish rulers who he thought could grant him what he desired. But in the end, as we see here, Judas lost it all: power, fame, and money. This is the inevitable plight of the nonchristian: they will lose it all. But contrast that with the hope of the Christians: they will gain it all (Philippians 1:21). 2. Finally, let us note The End Of Judas (Matthew 27:5-10). a. Judas not only lost the power, fame, and money that he coveted, but even lost his own life in this world and his own soul in everlasting torment. For when even getting rid of the blood money did not relieve the unremitting shouts of a condemning conscience, he went out and hung himself. Apparently, Judas hung himself (according to Matthew 27:5) and the weight of his body broke the branch of the tree causing his body to be burst open upon the rocks below (according to Acts 1:18). (1) Dear ones, let no think for a moment that murdering oneself is less heinous than murdering others. It is not an act of mercy to destroy the life that God gives (except in cases of lawful capital punishment, a just war, and lawful self-defense which are not murder according to God‘s Law). All the arguments promoted by the wicked wisdom of this world in justifying “mercy-killing” actually usurp the authority of God Himself who gives life and take it away. Dear ones, although suicide (in and of itself) is not the unpardonable sin, it is a most grievous and heinous sin that we should not commit any more than we would intentionally murder our child, our spouse, or our parents. b. Finally, note the hypocrisy of these Jewish leaders. They would not accept the money back that they themselves had given to Judas to betray Christ in order to put Him to death because they said it was blood money. But they would take it and use it for some benefit to strangers who died while in Jerusalem. The money was used to purchase a field (a potter’s field) as a gravesite for strangers. (1) Dear ones, never forget where our hypocrisy will lead us. Hypocrisy will always lead to self-deception. The Pharisees apparently believed they were doing a good deed by using this blood money in such a humane manner. (2) What they were doing was actually fulfilling prophecy (Matthew 27:9-10 which is a fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12,13). But why does Matthew say that this prophecy was made by Jeremiah? Most likely because Jeremiah in the ancient order of the Hebrew Bible stood first in the listing of the prophetical books. Thus, rather than citing the specific prophet where this prophecy occurs (Zechariah), Matthew cites the first book of the prophets in effect saying that this prophecy is found in the section of the Prophets in the Old Testament. (3) In conclusion, the fulfillment of this prophecy was a type and picture of what Christ would accomplish for unwanted strangers and aliens to the Covenant of Grace. Just as it was the blood money that purchased that resting place for the bodies of strangers, so it was the blood of Jesus Christ that purchased a final resting place in heaven for the bodies and souls of all Gentile strangers who will come to Christ and receive by faith alone Christ and His righteousness, Christ and His forgiveness, and Christ and His life. We evidence that Christ’s righteousness is our, that His forgiveness is ours, and that heaven is ours by our repentance over and not our mere regret over the consequences of sin.