One prophecy‑surely unique in its minute and intricate details amazingly fulfilled - shines out like a star. It is a money transaction, in which a small and exact sum is named; it is the actual price paid for the sale of God; it is paid down by the hands of the Israelitish nation, through its recognized leaders, and paid officially in the Temple courts; the money strangely finds its way into the hands of a potter, in exchange for his field; while the whole transaction is so critical, so charged with spiritual significance, that it involves, and actually produces, the ruin of the Jewish nation.  For smallness and commonness of detail, combined with all the crisis and tragedy of a universe, both being fulfilled to the letter though five centuries intervened, it is unsurpassed;. and the very insignificance of the sum makes the evidence the more conclusive, because it reveals a foreknowledge so minute that it betrays the mind of the Creator.*


* Various explanations are given why Matthew (26: 15) attributes the prophecy in Zechariah (11: 12) to Jeremiah.  It occurred in a work of Jeremiah which has been lost (Origen); it was an oral statement of that prophet (Calovius); the Jews have expunged the passage from the Book of Jeremiah (Eusebius).  It may be that Jeremiah (as Matthew says) ‘spoke’ the words, and Zechariah either recorded or repeated them.






On the Mount of Olives, after the Supper, the Lord Jesus vividly saw Himself as the Shepherd, and as the Shepherd already betrayed, and about to be smitten: “for it is written He said, “I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered abroad” (Mark 14: 27).  So in Zechariah the Great Shepherd is photographed as He stands on the threshold of the supreme crisis.  He stands before Israel, after He has “fed the flock” for years, and demands a Shepherd’s recompense, even as Jesus stood before the Figtree, seeking fruit:- “and I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my hire” (Zech. 11: 14): weigh up the years of my seeking lost sheep on the mountains of Israel; my miracles, My compassions, My teachings: judge the price a Good Shepherd asks, the confidence and love of his sheep; - repentance, and faith, and a response to the marvellous Love.  “GIVE ME MY HIRE






Now the drama begins.  The Lord was already standing on the outer reaches of Calvary; and the way that the question is couched reveals the foreknowledge that knows.  “If ye think good” - for the awful gift of free will can choose heaven, or it can choose hell – “give me my hire; and if not, forbear” : no wage at all will be better than a wage that is an insult.  But Israel instantly acts.  “So they weighed for my hire” - they measured as my exact reward – “thirty Pieces of silver  Exactly corresponding to this the Gospel reads:- “And they” - the Chief Priests, Israel’s official leaders – “weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver” (Matt. 26: 15), the ancient Scripture thus becoming alive after five intervening centuries.  It is certain that the Chief Priests had not the remotest thought of Zechariah in their minds, for, if they had, the last thing in the world they would have done was to name that sum; and it was completely absent from the mind of Judas, for he had nothing whatever to do with fixing the amount.  “What are ye willing to give me he had asked.  Yet thirty silver shekels was the exact sum weighed out; and thus a visible, concrete, palpable proof was given, to Israel and the whole world, for all time, that the awful rejection of Jehovah foretold had become an accomplished fact, public and indisputable, in the money paid down for Christ.






But more subtle correspondences follow, utterly impossible except to foreknowledge.  The transaction of Judas was an actual sale of Christ: it was not only a ‘wage’ – “they weighed for MY HIRE thirty pieces of silver” - but a ‘price’ – “the goodly PRICE that I was priced at of them  So Judas said:- “What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you that is, it was the bodily delivery of the Lord for which he received the actual paid-down cash.  And it is remarkable that thirty shekels was the price paid for a slave (Exod. 21: 32); and as this estimate of the Lord’s value was the estimate made by the Priests, not by Judas, it is possible that they had in mind what thirty shekels thus purchased under the Law.  For “he emptied himself, taking the form of A SLAVE” (Phil. 2: 7). Consciously or unconsciously Israel’s deliberate, official estimate of the value of Christ was the price of the very slave which the Son of God had become.






The actual spot of the bargain is indicated in the Divine forecast with a concentrated accuracy beyond all coincidence.  “And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter.  And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast them unto the potter, in the house of the Lord  The Temple, the holy junction of Jehovah and Israel, is the only possible stage - the central meeting-place of God and all the human race - for a transaction so critical, so awful; and there the Flock priced the Shepherd before the Lord, and paid down the price.  Silent on the intervening events - the Lord’s arrest, Judas’s despair, his return to the Temple - the prophecy therefore tracks the silver back to the Temple courts.  “And Judas cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary  So marvellous is the forecast that, centuries apart, an identical sum - thirty silver shekels - rattles down on the Temple stones, quite possibly on the identical spot; and the dramatic action no human mind could have foreseen - not only Judas’s remorse, but his resolve to dash down the silver where he had received it - is fulfilled to the letter.






But just here an enormous revelation is embedded in a single word.  “Jehovah said unto me, The goodly price that I was priced at of them  The Great Shepherd throughout Zechariah is Jehovah; and therefore the Good Shepherd sold on the slopes of Olivet - for He is the same Person - is no less than Jehovah Himself.  “The good shepherd our Lord Himself said, “layeth down his life for the sheep” (John 10: 2); and the sheep are “the flock of God, which he purchased WITH HIS OWN BLOOD” (Acts 20: 28).  But there is a careful distinction of personalities.  “The transition from the first person to the third (Zech. 12: 10) points to the fact that the person slain, though essentially one with Jehovah, is personally distinct from the Supreme God” (Keil and Delitzsch).  So later Bethlehem and Calvary stand forth (Zech. 13: 7) – “Awake, 0 sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith Jehovah of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered






Now the silver, through the joint act of Judas and the Priests, arrives at its destination.  It was ‘cast down’ by Judas, violently, as it had been cast down centuries before by the Prophet; it had, in both cases, been thrown down inside the Temple; and now, through the refusal of the Priests to use the money in the Treasury, it reaches the Potter.  Their opportunity of revoking the transaction and cancelling the purchase by keeping the restored money, they reject with scorn.  “And the chief priests took counsel, and bought with them the Potter’s field, to bury strangers in” (Matt. 27: 7).  The apparently trivial and meaningless command – “cast it to the potter” - becomes, after centuries, a lightning flash of Divine omniscience.






So then the final seal is now set on the exactly detailed and perfectly adjusted prophecy and its fulfilment.  “Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood unto this day  The expression which Judas used after our Lord had been condemned – “I have betrayed innocent blood” - reveals that he saw that his act would be the Lord’s death, and that a violent death: he already sees the blood flowing from his slaughtered Master, and so that his betrayal is murder: he realizes that what he has been paid is the price of blood; and popular judgment endorsed it with the name it gave – ‘The Field of Blood that is, the field bought with Blood.



So the Chief Priests deliberately say:- “It is the price of blood” (Matt. 27: 6): the price given for shedding blood, the wage of a murderer (Alford).*  In the fuller truth of the Gospel, “the field is the world” (Matt. 13: 38); and Jesus “selleth all that he hath” - the man who gives his blood, his life, gives his all – “and buyeth that field” (Matt. 13: 44).  Judas’s sale of Christ was Christ’s purchase of the world, and the Gospel is extraordinarily disclosed in the entire tragedy.



* Not only were the thirty silver shekels the purchase price of a slave (Hos. 3: 2), but, still more remarkably, it was the sum fixed as compensation for a slave gored by a beast (Exod. 21: 32): that is, it was the price of a slave’s blood.  It is reported (we do not know with what truth) that the price of a murder by a Chicago gangster is about £200.






Finally, throughout is revealed the overmastering power of God.  The whole drama is not only a crowning proof of prophecy, intricately exact and accurately accomplished beyond all challenge, but it is a sheer triumph of God.  The Priests themselves accomplish the fact of the sale of God, and end by certifying the fact in exquisitely detailed imagery.  So Judas, betraying Christ, only lays our Sacrifice upon the Altar; and simultaneously - while every instinct of a desperate man would be to exonerate himself by inculpating his Victim - he gives as valuable a tribute to the Lamb as ever fell from human lips:- “I have betrayed innocent blood  Of all that the Jews have charged Him with for two thousand years, Judas says He is innocent.  We are absolutely impotent to thwart God: our worst crimes are so adjusted into the machinery of God that, instead of thwarting Him, they themselves accomplish Divine aims hundreds and thousands of years old.  “We can do NOTHING against the truth, but for the truth” (2 Cor. 13: 8).  Peter sums it all up after the suicide of Judas thus:- “Jesus, being delivered UP BY THE DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay” (Acts 2: 23).  Man does what must be, but not because he must: whether by good or evil, whether in heaven or hell, we fulfil to the letter every word of the Most High: our very effort to thwart the truth is part of the truth - the part embodied in prophecy, our opposition only verifying and establishing the prediction.*


* Human foolishness in handling the Word of God is aptly seen in the Jews’ explanation of the thirty shekels: - the thirty precepts given to the sons of Noah; or thirty dignities of royalty; or the thirty righteous in each generation, etc,  But Christian expositors can be even less believing.  A really great Commentary (we refrain from hurting it by naming it) has these astounding words:- “Why these words should have been referred to by the Evangelist Matthew, and applied to Christ and Judas, I cannot explain, nor can anyone else But, with the amazing penetration of all Divine utterance, the prophecy itself says that “THF POOR of the flock that gave heed unto me knew that it was the word of the Lord” (Zech. 11: 11).  Fishermen believed it, and turned the world upside down.