132: Blood money
Judas Iscariot lacked something that Peter had. Judas lacked the faith that God's mercy is greater than the most horrible sin imaginable.
Like Peter, Judas felt sorry for what he had done. When he saw that Jesus was condemned, the money he had received seemed to point a finger of accusation at him. Only then did he fully realize what he had done. He would be responsible for Jesus' death.
This guilt was a heavy burden on Judas's soul. He wanted to be released of that burden, and he would gladly have bought Jesus back if that were possible. He didn't care about the money now that his heart was filled with remorse. Even if Jesus were not the Messiah, He was a kind and innocent person. There was no reason for Him to die.
Judas could not shake off the idea that he was really Jesus' murderer.
In the early twilight he hurried over to the temple. The priests were busy making preparations for the morning sacrifice. He stormed inside, his face twisted and his eyes frantic. He held out the money with trembling hands and screamed, "I have sinned; I have betrayed innocent blood."
It was a raucous scream in the temple. It was the scream of a man who had reached the end of the line.
The priests looked at Judas with cruel, cunning grins. "What do we care?" they said. "That's your problem."
It did not matter to the priests that a human soul was lost. They had their prey in their power; they would not let Him go for all the money in the world.
They didn't even want to take back the money Judas offered them. He threw the silver coins on the temple floor and hurried away.
Judas's last hope had been crushed. The sky was reddening in the east, but his soul was black as night. He felt like a cursed man who could never be redeemed. His guilt would always be shackled to him. Never again would he have rest. The question would always pursue him: "Judas, did you betray the Son of man with a kiss?"
Judas had fallen into satan's power. He did not believe in love and forgiveness. Only his guilt and the curse he would have to live under seemed real to him.
Judas did not have the courage to go on living. He went to a lonely place and put an end to his sinful life.
How blind he was! Did Judas think he could atone for one murder with another?
While Judas's body lay outside Jerusalem, broken on the rocks, the priests met and discussed in pious tones what they should do with the 30 pieces of silver. They had picked up the coins from the floor, but they did not want to put them in the offering box. To have blood money in the holy treasury would have been a great sin!
After talking for a long time, they decided to use the money to buy a field. They bought an almost worthless piece of ground full of pits and hollows where a potter had dug out some clay. They used that field as a burial ground for foreigners.
That field was called akeldama, that is, field of blood.