“And I said to them, ‘If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth;
but only if you want to.’ So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’ – this magnificent sum at which they valued me!
So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potter in the Temple of the Lord.”
My grandparents had a small silver Christmas tree when I was a kid. They would shine one of those rotating color wheel lights on it. It was red for a few seconds, then change to blue, then to yellow, then to green, repeat. As kids we thought that was so cool. It was like having four different Christmas trees for the price of one. But when the wheel was unplugged for the night, the Christmas tree was just silver. It was inexpensive and fake. You don’t find many of those trees today.
The prophet Zechariah mentions silver in his writings. Thirty pieces of silver was the price paid to the owner for a slave gored by an ox in ancient times. Potters were in the lowest social class in Israel. To pay this shepherd 30 pieces of silver would have been an insult. In actuality, this amount was so small that it could be thrown to the potters. I wonder if Zechariah knew the significance of his words when he wrote them.
Judas Iscariot was paid 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus to the religious Jews. The Gospel writer Matthew records that when Judas realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. He returned to the priests to express his regret. Their cavalier attitude caused him to throw the silver coins down in the Temple and leave. After some discussion on what to do with the money, the priests decided to buy a potter’s field and made it into a cemetery.
Matthew’s words echo the words of the prophet Zechariah. The prophet sarcastically calls the 30 pieces of silver a magnificent amount of money which revealed the heart of Israel and the value they placed on their shepherd.
How much do you value the Savior of the world? Take some time this Advent to do something lavish with your time, your money, your home, and your relationships to serve Jesus.