And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
What a bitter end for Judas it was. Those pieces of silver that once meant so much to him he finds have no value at all. In the end, it wasn’t worth it to have sold out Jesus to the Pharisees. Don’t we always find that to be the case, though? When we’ve sought for something so desperately that was outside of God’s will for us, we often find ourselves completely unsatisfied when we actually get it. In our minds, it seems so wonderful, like it will be just what we need, that it will give us some fulfillment and happiness, but when it is in our hands, we see how worthless it really is.
But nothing would have satisfied the restless heart of Judas, the emptiness he felt, except for the Lord he had betrayed. Nothing would have given worth and meaning to his life like the truths of God he had seemingly ignored. Nothing else would have given him as great a gain as having a right relationship with Jesus. So when he sought riches instead, he lost everything. When he lived for himself, he had nothing.
But we don’t have to doom ourselves to a permanent separation from our Lord. We don’t have to seal our own fate. There is grace for us if we would only turn to Jesus. No matter what we have sought with such fervor and energy before, now we can seek after Him instead. No matter what we used to value most, we can value Jesus more. No matter what mistakes we’ve made, we can be forgiven and restored. There is abundant love and mercy flowing from the heart of our Lord. He wants us to realize our sinfulness and turn to Him, not away from Him.
We can imagine a different ending to Judas’ story. He could have followed Peter to the palace and warmed himself at the fire. He could have stood along the road to Calvary and cried out to Jesus as He passed by. He could have gone to the tomb early that morning and found Jesus alive again. Instead, though, he turned his back on the only hope he had, the only one who could save him from himself. We must be very careful where we allow our hearts to lead us, what depths we sink to. Because in the end we will either find life and hope and wholeness in Christ or eternal separation from Him.