A Tale of Two Deaths
By Eric Elderwww.theranch.org
Two of most famous deaths ever recorded take place in Matthew chapter
27. Interestingly, even though these two men had starkly different
lives and deaths, the way each of them died was a reflection of the
way they lived. And in their deaths, there’s a lesson for how we can
live and die better, too.
The chapter opens with the death of Judas, the disciple who betrayed
Jesus with a kiss. His sad death is a reflection of his sad life.
Just days before, he watched contemptuously as a woman poured out a
jar of expensive perfume onto Jesus’ head. He complained, “Why
wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was
worth a year's wages.”
The Bible goes on to say, “He did not say this because he cared about
the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he
used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:5-6).
It was this event that caused Judas to go to the chief priests and ask:
“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they
counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched
for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26:15-16).
It was almost as if following Jesus was simply a means to an end for
Judas. As long as the money was coming in, he was glad to follow
Jesus. But when he saw this “wasteful” display of money by the
woman, and Jesus’s apparent indifference to the finances involved,
Judas began to look for another way to profit from the situation.
Sadly, when he realized his mistake, betraying an innocent man to
death for thirty pieces of silver, it was too late. He couldn’t live
with what he had done, so he took his own life. It seems that Judas
died for the same thing that he lived for: himself.
Contrast his story with the other death in this chapter, the death of
Having been betrayed by Judas, Jesus was taken to be sentenced. Yet
when accused, the Bible says, “But Jesus made no reply, not even to a
single charge -- to the great amazement of the governor.” (Matthew
Jesus knew what He had to do. Although He had agonized in prayer
over the possibility that there might be another way, He was willing
to follow God’s way either way. He had always lived for others. Now
He would die for others, too.
The deaths of these two men couldn’t have been more different. Judas
took his life because of sin. Jesus gave up his life because of
love. The difference can be seen when looking into their hearts.
When you look into the heart of love, you’ll find selflessness. When
you look into the heart of sin, you’ll find selfishness.
If we want to love like Jesus loved, we’ve got to lived like Jesus
lived -- then be willing to die like Jesus died. In doing so, we’ll
find true life. As Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save his life
will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find
it.” (Matthew 16:25).
I pray that when people look into your heart and mine, that they’ll
find hearts that are willing to die for the same things that they’re
willing to live for. I pray that our hearts would overflow with a
love that is eager to give to others, eager to live for others, and
even to die for others when that time comes.
I’m not expecting to die anytime soon, and you may not be either.
But I pray that when that day comes, our deaths would be a reflection
of our lives, reflecting God’s heart of love.
Prayer: “Father, help me to give up my life of selfishness so that I
can give out a life of selflessness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”