For Thirty Pieces of Silver.

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In Exodus 21:32, we read that if your ox gores a slave belonging to someone else to death, you are to pay the owner 30 shekels of silver.  (“If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.”)  This section of Exodus is dealing with remuneration for losses, and legal consequences for personal injuries.  A slave was not an important person.  More than likely, this was a laborer.  The price was not inconsequential, but it was not extravagant either.  As you’ll come to see, it was definitely nowhere near enough to match the exceeding value of Christ, and His kingdom.

In Matthew Chapters 26, and 27 Judas arranges with the chief priests to betray Jesus to them, and caries out the betrayal.  He does all this for the price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver.  Matthew 26:14-16, “Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”  Matthew Chapter 26:20-25, “Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.””

In Mathew 26:31 He refers to what He had revealed to the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, against the man who is My Companion,” declares the LORD of Hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn My hand against the little ones.”  Since Christ is citing this about Himself in the book of Matthew we know that the verse in Zechariah is a prophecy about Him.  The same consequences of the shepherd being struck are mentioned also in the New Testament scriptures.  Mark 14:27, 28, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ …”  Matthew 26:56, ““But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.”  John 16:32, “Look, an hour is coming and has already come when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”

As well as a shepherd Christ is the suffering servant, and the sacrificial lamb, of Isaiah chapter 53.

The Suffering Servant

1Who has believed our message?

            And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

      2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,

            And like a root out of parched ground;

            He has no stately form or majesty

            That we should look upon Him,

            Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

      3He was despised and forsaken of men,

            A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

            And like one from whom men hide their face

            He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

      4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,

            And our sorrows He carried;

            Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,

            Smitten of God, and afflicted.

      5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,

            He was crushed for our iniquities;

            The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

            And by His scourging we are healed.

      6All of us like sheep have gone astray,

            Each of us has turned to his own way;

            But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all

            To fall on Him.

      7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

            Yet He did not open His mouth;

            Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

            And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,

            So He did not open His mouth.

      8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;

            And as for His generation, who considered

            That He was cut off out of the land of the living

            For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

      9His grave was assigned with wicked men,

            Yet He was with a rich man in His death,

            Because He had done no violence,

            Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

      10But the LORD was pleased

            To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

            If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

            He will see His offspring,

            He will prolong His days,

            And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

      11As a result of the anguish of His soul,

            He will see it and be satisfied;

            By His knowledge the Righteous One,

            My Servant, will justify the many,

            As He will bear their iniquities.

      12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

            And He will divide the booty with the strong;

            Because He poured out Himself to death,

            And was numbered with the transgressors;

            Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

            And interceded for the transgressors.

Zechariah 11:7-14 “7So I pastured the flock doomed to slaughter, hence the afflicted of the flock. And I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Favor and the other I called Union; so I pastured the flock. 8Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month, for my soul was impatient with them, and their soul also was weary of me. 9Then I said, “I will not pasture you. What is to die, let it die, and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated; and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” 10I took my staff Favor and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples. 11So it was broken on that day, and thus the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of the LORD. 12I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.”

In context we see this is referring to Israel, and Judah.  God is no longer going to shepherd them, but as it refers to Christ prophetically we see Him as the shepherd sold for 30 pieces of silver.  There is a sarcastic mocking tone to this as 30 pieces of silver is an insult.  It shows how little Israel, and Judah valued God’s shepherding, and how little the Jews would value Christ, and His shepherding.  The money is ultimately thrown to the potter in the house of the LORD.

Matthew 27:1-10, “1Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.

      3Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; 10AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.”

We can see the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 11 in Matthew 27.  There are a few possible explanations as to why in Matthew he says the prophecy came from Jeremiah instead of Zechariah.  One of those reasons is that it is a literary device referring to the more commonly known major prophet who mentions a field that the prophet was commanded to purchase, or it could be the way that the Old Testament was formatted in that time.  The scrolls would have been referred to by the name of the prophet that was the beginning of the scroll even though it contained the writings of the minor prophet as well.

By comparing these sections of scripture, it is evident that Christ is the Messiah, the shepherd, and He is the suffering servant.  The low value that was placed on Him was an insult.  That insult comes from impenitent, rebellious, proud, and wicked hearts.  For those who are being saved the exceeding value of Christ, and His kingdom are beyond measure.  As God says in Matthew 13:44-45, “44The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field.

45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it.”  The Apostle Paul wrote this in his epistle to the Philippians 3:7-8, “7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, …”  1 Peter 2:6-7, “6For this is contained in Scripture:

            “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,

            AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”

7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,

            “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,

            THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,””

Christ Jesus, God in the flesh, the God man, hung in our place on the cross, punished for our sins as if they were His, bore our guilt and shame, was pierced, and bled…  The just wrath of God was poured out on Him, His Son to atone for those He chose in eternity past.  This should humble us.  This time of year when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s remember why He came into the world this time, and think on how He will come again in the future.

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