Thirty pieces of silver. That is how much I valued the One who called me to follow Him. That is how much I valued walking alongside the Godman for three years. Three years of witnessing miracles after miracle. Hearing teaching after teaching. Seeing people come from all over the globe it seemed just to merely touch the hem of His garment. Just to hear what He had to say. Seeing lives transformed by this Man. People would trade the entire world just to merely meet this Man, yet I traded Him, the Creator of the world, away for just thirty pieces of silver.
The deep regret I have for this act runs to the very depth of my soul. I will never forget that fateful night. Arriving in the garden with the mob around me. Backstabbing the eleven other men who I grew so close to over the past three years. Betraying the One whom I called “Rabbi.” When I kissed Him on the cheek, I sealed His fate. Even in the midst of His betrayal He looked me in my eyes and called me His friend. The guards seized Him and one of the Disciples cut the ear off of one of them, yet Jesus remained calm through it all. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Him, He remained calm, and still so gracious to me and the ones who came to arrest Him...calm like He was when the storms raged around us on the sea. Calm like when He walked on the water. Calm like when He fed the thousands with so little. Calm even in the garden when He peacefully gave Himself up without a fight. Almost as if…He knew this would happen.
This Man, so full of power, so full of grace. He could have called upon 12 legions of angels in that moment to end myself and those who were with me. Yet, He looked at me and called me His friend, even knowing that I would betray Him. That look. As if it is piercing to the very core of my being. I’ve seen that look before, and I remember it clear as day. It was the night of the Passover meal. The night when I knew I was going to betray Him. He got up from the table, tied a towel around His waist, and washed each and every one of our feet. I’ll never forget when He came to me. As He started to clean my disgusting feet, I remember His smile which radiated with joy in serving, and in His eyes radiated grace and love. Those same eyes that looked at me in the garden and called me His friend. After He was done washing our feet, He reclined in His chair and told us someone in that very room would betray Him. He handed me that dipped morsel of bread, and told me to “do it quickly.” As I walked to meet high priests and discuss my reward, the internal war raged in me so fiercely. How I couldn’t erase that gaze He gave me while washing my feet. It stuck with me up to the point of that fateful moment. Our eye met in the garden again. Even after the kiss of betrayal, He looked at me the same way. Full of love. Full of grace.
That gaze impressed upon my mind as he was escorted away by the crowd. As the crowd moved into the distance, my heart sunk. The feeling of shame and guilt weighed heavy upon my soul. He stood before the Sanhedrin as they spit in His face, beat Him, slapped Him, mocked Him. The words of the Sanhedrin rang clearly in my ears as they laid down His sentence, “He deserves death!”
I did this…I’m the one that handed Him over to be sentenced to death. As they bound Him up and sent Him off to Pilate, my soul broke. I couldn’t take it anymore. This is all my fault. His blood is on my hands. I remember in that moment realizing the gravity of the situation and the weight of what I have done. I had made a grand mistake. Because of me, innocent blood would be shed.
I went back to the chief priests and elders and tried to return the thirty pieces of silver but they wouldn’t take it. How could I have done this? The Promised Messiah. The Son of God. The One who would come to seek and the save the lost. The One people have been waiting centuries for, now condemned to death because of my selfish desires. Because I valued the world over the Creator of the world. I slammed the bag on the ground and ran out of there feeling so broken, so despaired, so lonely…
Is this what He meant when He told us what does it matter if a man gains the whole world, yet forfeits His soul? Is this what He meant by saying it was better that I wasn’t even born? This guilt and shame is so powerful. Could He still forgive a man like me? Could He still save a lost man, such as myself? Could he truly forgive me for these transgressions? Is this what He was being pierced for? Is this iniquity what He would be crushed for?
If you can learn anything from my life it is this: nothing compares to Jesus. He is worth more than thirty pieces of silver. He is worth more the finest of possessions this world could offer. He is worth giving our lives for Him. He is worthy. It is an honor to be called by Him and follow Him. You could obtain the whole world, but in the end it doesn’t matter because you are forfeiting your soul for possessions that will not last and will not satisfy. Jesus is the only One that can bring peace to a weary soul. Jesus is the only One who can bring restoration to a broken soul. Jesus is the only One in whom eternal life can be found.
Lastly, learn from my life that Jesus came to die for the worst of sinners such as myself. That even the most horrendous of sins He knows about, yet He still loves me. He still tells us to come to Him and we can find rest. Jesus came to die for sinners just like me. He already knew all the sins we would commit, past, present, and future, and yet He still chose to surrender His life so that we might obtain it. Jesus truly is better than anything this world could offer and anything our imaginations could fathom.