An Ignominious Legacy

Acts 1:15-26

In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate,
    and let there be no one to dwell in it’;


“‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Goldenmane Tickseed | Mercer Arboretum | May 2023

Luke makes a point about Judas’ ending and the ignomy of his legacy. And it isn’t pretty. Falling headlong, bursting open in the middle and bowels gushing out is not a pleasant description. Judas’ infamy is well earned for betraying Jesus, selling him out for the price of a slave, then trying to take it all back. Then comes the sad end of suicide and the ugly end described here. His legacy is one of deceit, ungodly regret, and death. 

The Bible is no fairy tale book. It does not sugarcoat sin. And whether it’s the harsh reality of David’s sin with Bathsheba (the death of their child), or Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), or this description of Judas’ end, we’re not spared the realities of sin’s consequences. The wages of sin is death. A man reaps what he sows. God punishes sin with sin. We cannot say we have not been warned.

Paul writes to the Church in Corinth:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  – 1 Corinthians 10:6-12

It’s easy for us to distance ourselves from the kind of evil displayed in the life of Judas. But we must take this as a warning. We must not imagine that we are invulnerable. We must guard our hearts, and not give in to temptation. And if we do give in, we must repent immediately, and return to the paths of righteousness on which God leads us. May we not leave an ignominious legacy!

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