“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests. And he said to them, What will you give me, and I will betray Him to you? And they appointed to him thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.” Matthew 26: 14-16
In the church today it has become popular to call for prophetic voices. The call i often used to garner support for this or that social issue of the moment, but the need for prophetic voices is indeed real. The church desperately does need prophetic voices, and I, today am going to provide one prophetic voice that it seems the church needs to hear.
“And I said to them, If it is good, give My price; and if not, let it go. So they weighed My price thirty pieces of silver. And Jehovah said to me, Throw it to the potter, the magnificent price at which I was valued by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of Jehovah.” Zechariah 11:12-13
I hope that you did not think that I was purporting to claim my voice as prophetic, no far from it. There is little need for new prophetic voices when we already have them. Here we have Zechariah making a messianic prophecy about the betrayal of Christ. It is worth noting that this payment alludes to the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). That was the value assigned to Christ by those who did not recognize Him for who He was. The price of a slave. Think on that for a moment. That was the value that He had to His enemies.
We know the rest of the story, Judas betrays Christ. That is the price of betrayal then, thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. In a very real sense, each time we betray Christ, we are asking for our silver. Jesus is arrested, is crucified, dies, and is buried. On the third day, He arose from the dead and the greatest story ever told, the story of God’s people reaches a climax. The first two parts of the greatest mystery of faith play out, and we anxiously await the final part of the mystery. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. But what about all that silver?
Judas, overcome with his guilt, again fulfills the prophecy and tries to return the silver to the house of the Lord. The elders refuse the money as it is blood money, and Judas eventually throws the coins into the temple. The coins are then used to buy a potter’s field. Ok, it is a pretty familiar story that most of us are well acquainted with, so what? Why now? It’s not Easter (Well, it is always Easter, but that is another topic) after all.
A church left the United Methodist Denomination. An arrangement was worked out with all parties involved and nearly instantly the wailing and gnashing of teeth began. Most of it over money. The church lost the value of the property and was not properly compensated for it. They did not get their thirty pieces of silver after all. When the value of a property is considered above the value of those who use it, you are asking for your silver.
In the United Methodist church some are suggesting that one important reason that the church must stay together are issues of funding. Funding pensions, funding salaries, funding programs, funding churches. When you put the financial situation of an institution above the importance of scriptural truth, you are asking for your silver.
When you try to figure out if your tithe should be before taxes or after for the sole purpose of saving money, you are asking for your silver.
When you place your identity in anything other than Christ, you are asking for your silver.
When you suggest that somehow a congregations voice in the life of the church should be determined by their financial contribution, you are asking for silver.
When you suggest that the decision making power should be aligned with the ability to give, you are asking for silver.
When you charge for someone to hear the good news of Christ, you are asking for silver.
When you think that scripture teaches that you should be a democrat, republican, socialist, or any other political movement, you are asking for silver.
This is the prophetic voice that has been called for, it’s just not a new voice, and probably not the voice that was wanted. The prophetic voice of Zechariah has spoken, will you listen?
I’m saying here that we should at least be honest about it, and just ask for our silver upfront, because quite simply each and every time we betray Christ through our actions, that is what we are doing. Why not just be upfront about it. Since we are being upfront about it, let’s admit that we are buying Jesus as a slave and in a very real way demanding that He work for us instead of being Lord over us.
The end of the prophecy is of course the potter’s field. The chief priests use the coins to purchase a field for the burial of strangers. How fitting is that? In reality it is perfect. When we ask for our silver, that is what we are after all, strangers to Christ. This is a part of the story of Easter. We are supposed to be an Easter people, a people of the resurrection awaiting the glorious new heaven and new Earth where we will dwell, but instead we are a people asking for our silver preparing only for a time in a field purchased with our betrayal where the strangers to Christ will lie separated from Him.
Our choice is clear. We can be an Easter people, holding fast to the Resurrection of the body and the life ever after. A people eagerly awaiting the new heaven and earth where we will dwell with the saints before and after us and, most importantly, our Lord and our Savior. We can look to a life eternal. We can look to the day when all of creation is reconciled to God, and God to all of creation or we can demand our silver. A slave price. Just understand that if you get the silver, the only thing waiting is the filed where strangers are buried. Understand that betrayal of Christ makes you a stranger to him. So, for those who are desiring their thirty pieces of silver, they are waiting for you, just know that the field of the dead is too.