Series: The Suffering Savior: Meditations on the Last Days of Christ by F. W. Krummacher (1796-1868)
[learn_more caption=”Introduction and Preface”] CMC Editor’s Note: In the following preface are the words of F.W. Krummacher introducing his readers to his work. It is our intention to post all fifty three of his meditations. Krummacher is regarded as one of Germany’s greatest preachers and was often compared to Great Britain’s C.H. Spurgeon. The reader will learn much of Christ through this series of devotional meditations on the final scenes in the life of Christ on earth. The printed work (first published 1854) has been described as the greatest single volume of the entire nineteenth century on the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry. The meditations are structured around the Old Testament tabernacle. It’s our prayer that you will be richly blessed his writings.
In the following meditations I trust I have succeeded in displaying to my readers at least a portion of those riches which are contained in the inexhaustible treasury of our Savior’s sufferings. Unmutilated scriptural truth, such as I believe I promulgate, still finds a favorable reception in the world, which I have been permitted to experience in the most gratifying manner. I mention it, solely to the praise of God, and for the satisfaction of those who are like-minded, that my writings, or at least a part of them, are, as I hear, already translated into English, French, Dutch, Swedish, and as I am assured, though I cannot vouch for the fact, into the Danish language also. My “Elijah the Tishbite” has even appeared in a Chinese attire. But that which is of greater importance, is the news I am constantly receiving of the manifold blessing which the Lord of his great and unmerited favor has bestowed upon my labors. That in his condescension and loving-kindness, He would also deign to bless this my most recent work is so much the more my heartfelt wish and ardent prayer, since it has for its subject the chief supporting pillar of the whole church—the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The division of the work into the “Outer Court,” the “Holy Place,” and the “Most Holy Place,” is intended merely to point out the different stages of the Redeemer’s sufferings, from their commencement to their close, but by no means to attach a less or greater importance to them. Had the latter been the case, I would naturally have assigned the institution of the Lord’s Supper its appropriate place in the “Most Holy Place,” instead of the “Outer Court.” But in the plan of this volume, it falls among the class of events, which immediately precede the propitiatory work of the Mediator.
~ F. W. Krummacher [/learn_more]
THE HOLY PLACE
Meditation – XXIV
The End of a Traitor
“A man of crooked heart does not discover good,
and one with a dishonest tongue falls into calamity.
21 He who sires a fool gets himself sorrow,
and the father of a fool has no joy.”
— Proverbs 17:20-21
My readers are aware how much depended upon our High Priest accomplishing the work of atonement in the robes of purity. If a blemish was found in the lamb, it was deemed unfit for sacrifice. “Such a High Priest became us,” says the Scripture, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” And such a one do we possess. The moral capability of Immanuel for his mediatorial work is unquestionable. God has spared nothing, in order to dispel every doubt on this subject. To this end, he gave up the Surety to the scrutiny of the acutest investigators in the world. But to their no small vexation, they tried in vain to find a single spot in him, and are compelled, either in plain words or by their conduct, to testify concerning him, “We find no fault in this man.”
It was of great importance that the Argus eyes of the scribes and Pharisees discovered nothing culpable in him. But it adds much to the weight of this fact, that nothing of the kind could be traced in the Lord Jesus by the man whom we shall now see descending into the pit. It was of much greater importance to him than to them, to be able to convict the Lord of a single sin, since he could not, like those men, whose consciences were asleep, aid himself by the invention of a fictitious culpability, if he found no real guilt in him. Had he been desirous of having recourse to such means, the judge in his bosom would have scoffed at such an artifice, like the leviathan at the quivering lance. Could Judas have been able to say to himself; even with a shadow of truth, “He whom I am betraying, deserves being delivered into the hands of justice,” what would he not have given? He was compelled ardently to wish, for the sake of his peace of mind and his present and eternal salvation, that he might discover Jesus to be in some respects a transgressor. A single sin found out in Jesus would have been a great comfort and a sweet solace to him in the torment which he felt within. But however diligently he sought, however much he exerted his ingenuity, and recalled to mind all the acts of his Master’s life, virtues presented themselves in abundance, a luminous sea of holiness shone upon him from it; but not one dark point could he discover, nor did the slightest spot meet his scrutinizing eye. How annihilating the result! Judas is compelled to justify his conscience, which accuses him as being the betrayer of the Holy One, and condemns him as the murderer of innocence. He finds nothing to assist him in weakening the sentence, and is forced to endure the most horrible curse that ever made a human soul to tremble.
It is remarkable that Judas sought for sin in Jesus in order to derive from it some alleviation to his agonized spirit, while he shrunk back from Jesus’ holiness. Had the light of the Gospel shone upon him, he would, on the contrary, have rejoiced at the spotlessness of Jesus, and would have shuddered and trembled at being able to discover the smallest blemish in him. It is strange, however, that we again make common cause with Judas, though in a different sense, since we seek sin in Jesus to pacify our consciences. And we really find it, but only as attaching to him in the way of imputation and transfer; and this enables us to go on our way in peace.
Judas finds himself in a dreadful condition. Consoling himself with the wonder-working power of Jesus as a cloak for his wickedness, and holding up to his awakening conscience the delusive idea that his Master needed only to exert his will, in case of necessity, in order to escape from the hands of his enemies; when he saw his Master actually condemned, and dragged bound and escorted by the whole Sanhedrin to the residence of the governor, the last anchor breaks which had hitherto held the man secure against the storm of despair. The incorruptible judge in his bosom has now free scope for his accusations, and thunders in his ears, “Your villainy has succeeded—your Master is going the way to death, and you are the means of it. On your head rests the entire guilt of the bloody end of this Just One. You, who did eat of his bread, are the viper which has given him the deadly bite. It is a wonder that the earth still bears you, and that the sun shines upon such a scum of humanity. Woe, woe unto you, traitor, murderer, and accursed!”
O the fearful agony which takes possession of his bosom at these arrows of conscience, the boundless distress which falls upon him like an armed man! O the horror and dismay which thrill through every nerve and limb! It seems to him as if he heard the footsteps of the Avenger of blood approaching him; as if the sentence of death was already thundered down from heaven upon his devoted head; and as if he saw the flaming abyss of hell yawning at his feet. The darkness of despair weighs heavily on his soul. O how the accursed blood-money sears his conscience! How horribly sounds the silver in his purse! It seems to him as if it were the pay of Satan and the wages of hell that he carries about with him; no, as if he had bartered for it the salvation of his soul. And this was what he had really done. See him hurrying along, urged forward by the raven wings of mental agony. God has forsaken him, and the devil has ceased to trouble himself about the comfort of his soul. The pitiable wretch rushes to the temple. “For what purpose? In order to pray?” No, he can pray no longer. He must rid himself of the accursed wages of sin. He seeks for the chief priests and elders, and having found them, he approaches them, pale as a corpse, and filled with rage and hatred against these instruments of his fall, and confesses boldly and openly, saying, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed innocent blood.”
Hear these words, they are of great importance. “Why? Has Judas become Jesus’ friend?” By no means; his heart was still embittered against him. “Was his testimony to the innocence of Jesus of advantage to him?” On the contrary, by it he only drew down upon him the displeasure of his superiors, and increased the dreadful nature of his crime. It would have been to his advantage to have reasoned himself into the falsehood that Jesus was unworthy of any other treatment than that which he experienced. How strongly and triumphantly, therefore, must the heavenly radiance of Jesus’ innocence have been reflected, even by the darkened mirror of his treacherous soul, that, in spite of the injury just mentioned which he thereby occasioned himself, he could not refrain from honoring Jesus by such a confession!
Truly, scarcely ever has a more powerful hymn of praise to the holiness of the Lamb of God been heard, than sounds in our ears in the despairing outcry of his betrayer; and where has the innocence of Jesus been more powerfully attested, than by the testimony which the unhappy murderer is compelled by conscience to give against himself? Thus, the Lord Jesus, as already observed, celebrated a brilliant triumph in the midst of the deepest gloom of his humiliation. He triumphs as One whom no one could convince of sin—as the Lamb without spot—as the Holy One of Israel. We congratulate ourselves on this new confirmation of the truth, that there is no blemish in our righteousness; for the righteousness of the Surety is the righteousness of his people. Those who praise the glorified Head, praise us also, who are his members. Even the enemies of Christ, who deny his divinity, but enthusiastically honor him as the model of every virtue, are “helpers of our joy.” Their laudatory effusions in reality praise our excellence. They refuse, indeed, to hear of this; but when at length God shall take us to his arms before the whole world, and present us with the inheritance of his Son, they will be made aware that Immanuel’s garment has descended to us, and that we are clothed with it.
The Lord celebrates his second triumph in the event we are about to contemplate, as the only salvation which is prepared for sinners. Singularly enough, he is glorified by his betrayer even in this quality. Judas here performs apostolic service—not intentionally on his part, although on God’s part. He serves as a fearful example, how a man may undertake everything, in order to free himself from sin and its attendant curse, and yet not succeed, as long as the Lord Jesus is not his, and as long as he does not belong to the Lord Jesus.
Behold the miserable man! The horrible deed is done, and he already acknowledges it as a crime. In him we have not to do with an entirely hardened villain. He feels the greatness of his guilt, confesses it, and bitterly repents of it. What would he give, could he undo the wicked deed! He attempts many things for this purpose, to which the moralists of the present day would doubtless also have advised him. He hastily returns to the men in whose service he had sinned, brings them back the accursed bribe; prefers enduring shame, disgrace, and much more besides, rather than let the blood-money remain in his hands; confesses freely and openly the impious act he has committed; does not seek to alleviate it, but directly says, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood!” and sufficiently shows that the abhorrence he displays at the crime he has committed is earnest and sincere. And when the priests refuse to take back their pieces of silver, and haughtily turn their backs upon him with the cold and cutting words, “What is that to us? See you to that!” he casts the money down in the temple, and thereby gives them to understand that he destines it for the poor, or other sacred purposes. In this scene, we perceive something dreadfully retributive, when we call to mind the hypocritical words, “Why was not this ointment sold, and the money given to the poor?” with which the unhappy disciple once presumed to deprecate Mary’s laudable work of love. He is now compelled, although with other money, to verify, in a dreadful manner, what he then uttered in dissimulation.
But what more could be desired than what the sinner did here? Here was self-condemnation, resolutions of amendment, and even earnest endeavors to repair the evil he had done. And yet of what use was it all? Sin remained; heaven continued closed against him; the heart of the Eternal Judge was turned from him, and Satan’s chain was unbroken. The trembling of the wretched man is in vain, as well as his repentance, confession, and his moral resolutions and vows. All this was insufficient to purge him from his sin. All these laudable acts do not procure him mercy. Judas perishes horribly. “Why? Is it because his sins exceeded the measure of divine forgiveness?” O, not so! “Is it because he was a thief and a cheat?” Such was the thief on the cross in a much higher degree, yet he found the way to Paradise. “Is it because he betrayed the Holy One of Israel?” Thousands did the same, and yet were saved. “Was it because he laid hands on himself?” I tell you, that even if he had not done this, but had lived for years together, and spent them in serious attempts at amendment, he would still have perished, for this one single reason—that Jesus was not on his side nor atoned for him by his blood. Thus the perdition of Judas must serve, like no other event, to show, in striking colors, how impossible it is to do without Jesus; and the latter triumphs in this, as in almost nothing else, as the only and exclusive Savior of sinners.
Nothing can avail or save, if Jesus is not ours. If you, my readers, had any commensurate idea, how much you need him, you would throw open every avenue to admit him. Gladly would you divest yourselves of that which is the dearest and most precious to you, in order that you might possess him. No, you would risk your very lives, much more the vain delights and empty honors of this world, in order to gain him. There exists no compensation for the want of Jesus and the cleansing efficacy of his blood. The most specious tissue of austerities, morality, and devotional exercises, cannot supply his place. It is only a more handsome dress for a delinquent, and not the wedding garment for the invited guest.
Jesus alone enables us to obtain mercy, and to reach heaven. If he be not gracious to you, it is in vain for you to rise early and to sit up late, in order by such means to work out your salvation. You labor and accomplish nothing; you gather and put it into a bag with holes, you wove spider’s webs, which are unfit for clothing. You pour into a vessel, the bottom of which is knocked out, and condemn yourself to roll a stone up a hill, which, just as you think to reach the summit, again escapes you, and rolls down, unimpeded, into the abyss below. But if Jesus is your, you have already gained your cause; fruits of peace fall into your lap from a tree, which is not of your planting; you can boast of your Savior’s righteousness, while you are still striving against sin; and are reconciled unto God, without an atonement being required at your hand. Why then do you delay to embrace him, and make him your all in all? Say with the apostle, “The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;” and when these words are verified in you, you are safe to all eternity.
Judas is exhibited to us in the history of the Passion, in order that sin, with all its horrors, may appear in the full blaze of day, and that redemption may appear in all its splendor, and Jesus be visibly glorified, not only as the Holy One, and the only way of salvation, but also as the Savior of mankind. If ever the dreadful nature of sin was manifested in any one, it was so in the traitor. Here, it first of all, presents to us its entire hatefulness and darkness, which appears only the more striking when contrasted with the heavenly light, which beams forth from the person of Christ. Here it makes itself known as the great deceiver, which promises its servants mountains of gold, but rewards them with horror and terror. Here it comes forward as an emanation from hell, whose fruit brings death, and which has never borne any other children than fear, despair, and condemnation. Here it reveals itself as the worst enemy of our race, which cuts asunder the bonds that connected us with God, inflames the wrath of the Almighty against us, opens to us the gates of the eternal desert, and establishes a gulf between us and the heavenly city of God, over which no bridge can be thrown. Besides, it is here manifestly shown how it scoffs at every human attempt to extract its sting; how no penitence can banish it, no tears wash it away, and no good resolutions annihilate it; but it obstinately remains in defiance of all this; hands over its subjects to Satan, and after embittering their life on this side the grave, transfers them finally to an eternal night of death, and gives them up to endless perdition.
Look at the traitor in his state of despair, and behold how sin sits upon his shoulders, like a hideous specter! See how he shades himself and plunges under his burden, but the monster refuses to leave him. Observe how he hurries along, restless and fugitive, but the specter accompanies him and becomes increasingly frightful as he proceeds. He expects to get rid of his horrible burden by returning the thirty pieces of silver; but in vain are the attempts to settle accounts with sin at such a rate. Judas has recourse to the chief priest and elders, but they know of no remedy against sin. Driven at length to desperation, he casts himself into the arms of death; but even the latter does not relieve the soul from the fiend. Judas may divest himself of his body, but he does not thereby, lay aside his guilt. He may part with his life; but sin does not, on this account, depart from him. He can leave the world, but his impious act follows him across its boundaries. He may strangle himself, but his iniquity is not destroyed by so doing: on the contrary, greater scope is thus afforded it to unfold its whole power and dominion. It does not prevent his body from bursting asunder, but carries away the soul with it to everlasting fire. Approach the grave of Judas. No angels are watching there, nor does the guardian eye of God stand open over it. No rose of hope blooms on its grassy mound. Night-shade and thistle alone vegetate there. And what is the inscription on his tombstone? It is short and horrifying—”And Judas went to his place”—and indicates in a dreadful manner how far the desolating, destructive, and fatal power of sin extends.
Who was there that was able to cope with this monster? He, who is being dragged yonder in chains before the judgment-seat of a heathen, and at the sight of whom, Judas despairs, instead of breaking out into exclamations of joy—he it is who enters the lists against it. Christ, by imputation, was the Lamb which took upon himself the sin of the world, in order by the representative endurance of the curse due to it, he might deprive it of its sting, in behalf of all those, who should believe on him. He has done so; and when we asserted that he triumphed in the event under consideration as a Savior, we meant to say, first, that the redemption accomplished by him, appears in such adorable splendor, because the monster sin here reveals more variously than elsewhere, its real nature, and exhibits its horrors in broad daylight. But Christ is also glorified here as the Savior, since every one must feel convinced that the son of perdition suffers shipwreck here solely because he disdains to cast himself patiently and believingly into the arms of him whom he has betrayed. However dreadful the storm, which sinks the whole fleet of human aid—a barque still remained, in which he might have taken refuge. Had he done so, it would have infallibly brought him safely into the haven of eternal peace.
“But why did he not ascend its sides?” Partly because he was still too proud to honor him, by suing for his mercy, who had torn away his hypocritical mask, and against whom his soul was still deeply embittered. Partly, also, because he had given way to despair; for Satan did not cease, as a reward for the services which Judas had rendered him, to suggest to him that there was no longer any hope for him. In addition to which, by filling his imagination with all kinds of infernal imagery, he deprived him of the power of calm and lucid reflection. Could Judas have summoned up sufficient humility and courage to turn his tearful eye to Jesus, as did afterward the dying thief, he would have met only the look of forgiving mercy; and O what different sounds would have saluted his ear, than the horrifying language of the chief priests and elders, who said to him, “What is that to us? See you to that.” There was no want of grace, even for a man in his desperate condition; and although his sin was “red like crimson,” yet the blood of atonement would have sufficed to wash it white as snow. But the devil carried him away in the whirlwind, like the vulture the lamb it has seized upon; nor did he rest until he had completed his triumph over him, and had gotten secure possession of the soul of him, who had thus become his rare booty.
The world has never beheld a more tragic spectacle than the one we are now contemplating. One who was ordained and fitted to become a distinguished vessel of salvation and blessing to mankind, gives himself up to despair in the presence of the world’s deliverer, and plunges into the gulf of eternal perdition, instead of laying hold of the hand extended for his rescue, under the unhappy delusion that, by so doing, he should experience deliverance from the agony of his conscience. It would seem as if even death and hell disowned this son of perdition, just as the world had previously done in the person of the chief priests and elders, and were compelled, with God, to execute judgment upon him. The rope with which the miserable man had hung himself snaps asunder. The tree which he had selected as the instrument of his death, shakes him off again with horror. The strangled wretch falls down, bursts asunder, and his affections, gushing out, lie scattered on the ground.
While these horrible things are enacting, the chief priests and elders are consulting together, what should be done with the thirty pieces of silver, which Judas, in his state of desperation, had thrown back again. “It is not lawful,” say the hypocrites, unconsciously stigmatizing themselves, “to put them into the treasury, for it is the price of blood.” They say right; for according to Deut. 23:18, the treasury of the Lord was not to be defiled by blood-money, or the price of a dog. But how well do the words of our Lord in Matt. 23:23, apply to these whited sepulchers, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law judgment, mercy, and faith. You blind guides, who strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel!” Were not these men equally guilty of the heinous crime with the traitor himself, to whom they had paid the thirty pieces of silver? And though they were in equal condemnation with him, yet they assume to themselves not only the place of his judges, but with a haughty mien, contrast themselves with him as keepers of the law and the holy places. Who does not feel almost more sympathy with the despairing disciple than with these proficients in falsehood and dissimulation? Who can say that it may not be more tolerable in the day of judgment for the former, than for these arrogant and heartless hypocrites!
They agree together to purchase, with the wages of iniquity, the potter’s field—a piece of ground belonging to a potter; and destine it for the burial-place of those pilgrims who might die in Jerusalem without having any tomb or place of sepulture of their own. Thus, even the money, for which our Lord was bartered, must be productive of good. And is there not in this transaction, a distant hint that Christ yielded up himself, that we, poor pilgrims in the valley of death, might rest in peace? The purchased field was thenceforward known by the semi-Syrian name of “Aceldama,” or “the field of blood.” A melancholy monument was thus erected to the lost disciple and his crime; which still speaks to the traveler and says, “There is no more offering for sin unto him, who treads under foot the blood of the Son of God.”
The evangelist, after narrating the purchase we have just been considering, observes, that “Then was fulfilled, that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me.'” Matthew combines here, as respects their chief import, two prophetic passages; the first of which belongs to Jeremiah, but the other to Zechariah, whose name is not mentioned. We read the words of Jeremiah, in chap. 19:11-13 as follows: “Thus says the Lord of Hosts, even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again, and they shall bury them in Tophet, until there shall be no place to bury. Thus will I do unto this place, says the Lord, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet. And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be defiled, as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses, on whose roofs they have burned incense to all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink-offerings unto other gods.” The words of Zechariah we find in the eleventh chapter of his prophecies, where we read in verse 13, “And the Lord said unto me, ‘Cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prized at of them.’ And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter, in the house of the Lord.”
Let us endeavor, first, to penetrate to the bottom of the words of Jeremiah. The prophet announces heavy judgments upon the people of Israel and the city of Jerusalem; and according to divine direction, he had taken his stand near the tile—or potter’s gate, at the place called Tophet, which belongs to the valley of Benhinnom, and is the same where the Israelites, in the days of dreadful apostasy, had sacrificed their children to the idol Moloch. In the presence of the priests and elders, accompanied by whom he had gone out by divine command, he takes an earthen vessel, which he had brought with him, and dashes it in pieces on the ground, accompanying this symbolical act with the prediction that thus should the city and people be broken, and that the latter would be buried in the defiled and accursed Tophet, from want of room to inter the corpses, and the city itself should be as Tophet, and its houses unclean.
Tophet, where once the image of Moloch stood, was, at the same time, the piece of ground where the potters of Jerusalem procured the clay for their handicraft. When the prophet broke in pieces the earthen vessel in this very place, and thus changed it into its original material, he very significantly and affectingly pointed out the fate which would, in like manner, befall the holy city and the chosen race. This Tophet was the potter’s field, which, as stated above, was bought by the elders for thirty pieces of silver. But when Matthew says, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet,” the meaning of the Holy Spirit, who guided the evangelist’s pen, is this—”Seeing that God so ordered it that the elders of Israel purchased with the wages of iniquity, the field on which the curse of Jeremiah rested, thus making it the property of the Jewish state, and by so doing, transferred, as it were, that curse to themselves and the people: thus testifying, and again symbolically, that the visitation, then threatened, would break in, a second time, upon Israel in so much the more dreadful form, the more grievous the murder of the Son of God himself was than the service of Moloch, and the abominations connected with it. It was not therefore the purchase of the field itself, but rather the symbolic appropriation, by it, of the divine curse upon Tophet, which received its final accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, that is here described as the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.
The passage from Zechariah serves only to enlarge the meaning of Jeremiah’s prediction. The latter being, in the opinion of the evangelist, the more important of the two, he does not even mention the name of the former. Jeremiah points out the piece of ground purchased; Zechariah the price which the Jewish authorities paid for it. Let us look a little more closely at the words of the latter. The Lord is there speaking to his ungrateful people, and represents himself as their Shepherd, who had tended them at one time with the staff “Beauty” (gentleness), and at another, with the staff “Bands” (severity). But they had disregarded his pastoral care, and had continually strayed from his paths, and despised his under-shepherds, the prophets, and among them, Zechariah himself, who complains that he, and in him the Lord who sent him, was no more valued by them than the lowest slave; thirty pieces of silver being the price at which they estimated him. Jehovah threatens them with his judgments in consequence of this impious conduct. “Cast it unto the potter”—that is, throw it, as the wages of sin, into the mire of that accursed field, where the potter carries on his work—the field of Tophet. And then the Lord adds, in sacred irony, “A goodly price, that I was prized at of them,” “and I,” continues the prophet, now speaking in his own person, “took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter, in the house of the Lord.” Thus the temple was treated, by divine command, as if it were the field of Tophet itself; a dreadful emblematical prediction of the fact that even the temple, in process of time, should crumble into dust under the curse of God.
The hour of the threatened judgment was at hand, when he, who was the perfection of God’s pastoral faithfulness, was valued, on the part of Israel, at the trifling price of thirty pieces of silver. For this small sum, Judas, as representing his nation, disposed of his part in the Savior, and the children of Israel, by their rulers, bargained for the Holy One to slay him. But by the fact of the traitor, in despair, hurling the murderer’s reward from him, and casting it down in the temple, the blood-money (a bad omen) was returned to the congregation of Israel. This act, which was not without divine intervention, called fearfully and significantly to mind the thirty pieces of silver mentioned by Zechariah, and could only be explained to mean that the Almighty now renewed, more impressively than before, the threatening he had pronounced against Jerusalem and its sanctuary, in the symbolical act of his prophet. And the circumstance that the Jewish rulers hit upon the idea of purchasing the accursed spot, called Tophet, with the wages of iniquity, completely impresses the seal of truth on that explanation.
Hence it is evident that the spirit of prophecy both uttered and apprehended the words of Zechariah and Jeremiah with a conscious reference to the event which occurred in Jerusalem after the lapse of centuries; and that God permitted the transaction between Judas and the rulers of Israel to assume, in so striking a manner, a form corresponding with those ancient prophetic sayings, only because he would give the ungrateful flock of his people, a new and tangible sign that the time of maturity for destruction, and the long announced and terrible judgments of his hand had now arrived. Matthew therefore says, with perfect justice, “Then was fulfilled, that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet.” Actual predictions found their final accomplishment. Even as the Holy Spirit had distinctly pointed, in Zechariah, to the thirty pieces of silver—so in Jeremiah, he had pointed to the purchase of the potter’s field by the priests and elders. The accusation of a merely arbitrary and allegorical application of Old Testament sayings and events to New Testament occurrences, nowhere applies to the evangelists and apostles.
Deeply affected, we take our leave of the most horrible passage in the whole history of the passion of our Lord. How near we may be to him, and yet become the prey of Satan, if we do not carefully watch over our hearts! How many gifts and favors we may have received from him, and yet may suffer the most dreadful loss of them by an unfaithful use of them! Let him who gives himself to Christ, do so without reserve; and whoever is desirous of holding communion with him, let him always walk before him without disguise. Let him who is overtaken by a fault seek the throne of grace without delay; and he who is conscious of being under the dominion of a single sin, let him not cease to watch and pray, until its power is broken by the mercy of him who bruised the serpent’s head. The germ from which a Judas may spring, when fructified by hell, lies concealed in all of us. Let us therefore make room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts, that he may destroy it, and make all within us new!
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