Why It Had to be Silver
Recently, I was listening to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Fortunately, I found an English version, rather than the usual German. The two and a half hour masterpiece takes you through the last days of Jesus, from the Lord’s Supper to the resurrection. The songs are haunting reflections and meditations on the biblical story.
When I came to the scene with Judas, for some reason, I was struck by the word ‘silver.’ As you may know, Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. While I was listening, I kept asking myself, “Why did it have to be silver?” It could have been thirty pieces of gold, after all.
Then I realized the meaning of ‘silver.’ Silver is second best. It’s not gold, which is the best. Then the meaning came crashing down on me: Judas settled for second best. And that’s what sin always does, it settles for second best. When you sin, you think you are going to get the best thing, but it always ‘betrays’ you. It always tricks you and lets you down.
This really came home in St. Matthew Passion when after the betrayal, Judas kept pleading, “Give me back my Savior!” Judas suddenly realized he had settled for second best. He knew that he had given away the true gold, Jesus Christ, but it was too late.
Most of life is filled with ‘silver’ things, so you have to be careful. You will be tempted to settle for silver, which is not best for you, even though it seems so at the time. You may sell out for a job, a relationship, attention, popularity, an accomplishment, a possession, a pleasure, a comfort, a reputation. These can all be wonderful things, don’t get me wrong, but they are all silver, compared with Jesus. The danger is that we trade in our relationship with Jesus for silver things.
Then we will find ourselves crying out with Judas, “Give me back my Savior!”