18 Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out.
19 And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.
Before the time of Jesus, it was simply known as Potter’s Field. The name came from the clay there that was used by potters in Jerusalem. It was a rich reddish clay, which might also explain the name “Field of Blood.” Of course, since the clay was red, people could just as easily have called the place “Red Field,” but they did not. The field lies on the south side of Jerusalem on one side of the Valley of Hinnom – a.k.a. Gehenna, the place where idolatrous Jews used to sacrifice to Molech (2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-6). At the time of Jesus, Gehenna was a place of perpetually burning garbage and filth. “Field of Blood” is definitely a more appropriate name.
Judas’ spiritual torment after betraying his Master is quite understandable. We know that his betrayal wasn’t all his own doing, since Satan himself entered into him on the night of the Last Supper. (Luke 22:3, John 13:27) But the choices Judas made that enabled Satan to enter into him – even after he had broken bread with Jesus – were Judas’ own, and for those he had to pay.
After having betrayed Christ, Judas went to the priests to try to undo what he had done. (Matthew 27:3-4) What Judas did NOT do was to seek God’s forgiveness. As a Jew, Judas could have gone to the Temple and made a sin offering. As a follower of Jesus, Judas could have gone to his former friends and begged forgiveness, owning up to his sin. Instead, Judas tried to give the priests the thirty pieces of silver they had paid him. In the end, the money was used to buy the Potter’s Field where Judas died, and thereafter it became known as the Field of Blood.
Judas carried the blood of his sins right to death. He did not seek forgiveness but tried to eliminate his guilt by giving back the payment for his crime. No payment, no crime? What Judas had failed to learn from his Teacher was that the crime started from within. While Judas’ feelings of guilt were a good start toward redemption, he did not follow through on them and seek to change his heart. Repentance is not simply acknowledging our sins nor even just trying to undo what we have done. As my grandmother used to say, “What’s done is done.” Rather, repentance is knowingly turning away from sin to lead a new life. God has already forgiven all our sins through Christ, but it is up to us to accept that forgiveness, to even forgive ourselves, and to embrace the new creation we are in Christ.
Do you have a Field of Blood in your life, a place or thing that is a persistent reminder of the wages of your sin? Do you wallow in shame and spiritual pain, seeking to somehow expiate your guilt by making amends to those you’ve wronged? Do you seek to undo the sinful things you have done?
Think about this: If Judas had sought forgiveness, there would be no Field of Blood. Jesus bought forgiveness for all of us on the Cross, shedding His blood so that we need never know death, need never shed our own blood. All we need do is truly repent and seek God’s forgiveness through His Son, and we will never fall down in a Field of Blood.
Heavenly Father, I praise You and exalt You for forgiving all my sins – even the secret sins I cannot consciously remember and confess. Your grace is truly amazing! Thank You, Lord God, for keeping me out of my own Akel Dama, and for the gift of the Cross, “where the Dearest and Best for a world of lost sinners was slain.” Mold me now, Father, into the image of Your Son, and use me to Your will for all my life. Amen.