Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 27 as we focus in on the potters field that was purchased with innocent blood. And as you are turning there, listen to this story that took place several years ago.
This story is about a woman who fell out of a second-floor window and it is humorous, not tragic as you may think. You see, as she fell she landed in a slow-moving garbage truck. Now, half-buried in the garbage, she tried without success to get the truck-drivers attention. A foreign diplomat standing on the sidewalk saw her in this garbage truck and quipped, "Another example of how wasteful Americans are. That woman looks like shes good for at least another 10 years!"
With that said, I dont dare go any further and get myself in more trouble, lets begin reading from our text this morning starting in verse 3 of Matthew chapter 27, and you will see where we are going and I pray the Lord shows you the lessons He has for you this morning.
Now we need some background information before we move into our study. Remember, Judas sold Jesus out to the religious leaders for 30 pieces of silver. And at night, as Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas led the priests, some 600 Roman soldiers, plus others, to where Jesus was at, and they picked Jesus out by seeing Judas giving Him a kiss of affection.
Jesus is then led away to the house of Annas, then the acting High Priest Caiaphas, and the last of the three religious trials was before the Sanhedrin. The sentence is then passed, Jesus is guilty of blasphemy against God for claiming to be God, which He is but they refused to believe, and thus, they sentence Him to death.
After beating Jesus and mocking Him they take Jesus to Pilate, for the Jews had lost their right to execute capital punishment by the Romans. And Judas is taking all this in, seeing the bloody face of Jesus, so disfigured that He no longer resembled that of a man. Judas also recognized that Jesus was innocent, He committed no crime!
Thus, Judas goes back to the religious leaders and asks them to take back the thirty pieces of silver and to stop what they are doing. But these so-called religious leaders tell Judas, "What is that to us? You see to it!" In other words, "That is not our problem, it is your problem! You do something about it!" These were the spiritual leaders who could care less for the people, they were only interested in themselves and their positions.
So Judas, frustrated, seeing his sin, not repenting but sorry he is in this situation, throws the 30 pieces of silver into the holy place and leaves. Judas then goes out and hangs himself, and isnt that just what the Devil does, he destroys lives! He allowed Satan to control his life and this is the fruit that is born. Now some like to argue that Judas was saved, that he repented, but that is not what the text says, so I disagree with that. In fact, in John we are told during the Passover feast, before communion, "Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, What you do, do quickly.... Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night." John 13:27, 30. It was not only dark outside, not only night outside, but spiritually speaking also in the life of Judas as Satan enters him to carry out this diabolical plan to kill the Messiah. But make not mistake, Judas was responsible for his actions.
At this point the religious leaders have a problem. They dont want to get rid of the thirty pieces of sliver and yet, because they are righteous, they could not accept this blood money! Think about it, they are the ones who gave the money to Judas in the first place, and now they cant accept it, go figure? That is self-righteousness and that only leads to death!
But do not fear, these religious leaders have a plan as they put their heads together on this one, and it will make them look good also! You see, they bought a potters field where they could bury those who had died and were poor, or strangers. How noble of them!
Now a potters field was an area of land that a potter would use to throw away his broken, damaged, worthless pieces of pottery. And as this land was filled with these cracked pots, it became good for nothing, only to bury dead people!
In that I see a picture of what God has done for us. You see, if we are honest with ourselves, we are cracked pots, not crackpots, although some of us may fit into that category also. Let me explain. In Genesis 2:7 we are told, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Now I find that interesting, for the potter uses clay, dust of the earth to make his artwork. And as God completed His work of creation, we are told in Genesis 1:31, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
And then in Genesis chapter 3 we read of the fall of man, the sin of man against God. When that took place, these vessels of honor, Adam and Eve, became cracked pots, broken vessels and separated from the Master Potter, and tossed into the potters field. And ever since that time, Adam and Eve and their decedents have been producing cracked pots, broken vessels! You see, Isaiah says "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." Isaiah 59:1-2.
Now that truly is a hopeless situation, a hopeless condition to be in. Sin has caused the road to God, the bridge to God to be washed out, we have been separated from Him. We can try to ignore that fact, we can try to continue on down that road, to cross that bridge that has been washed away, but it will only led to disaster and destruction.
The only solution to that problem is the road, that bridge needs to be repaired so we can continue on our path to God, so that our relationship with Him can be restored. But we cant do it. We cant repair the road that has been washed away, the bridge that is gone, it is impossible.
That reminds me of the story of the man who found a magic lamp and the genie came out and said he would grant this man one wish, whatever he wanted, whatever he would like. And the man thought about it and he always wanted to go to Hawaii, but he was afraid to fly and he was afraid to travel by boat.
So he asked the genie to make a road that would extend from California all the way to Hawaii. And the genie responded by saying that it was much too difficult to do. All the supports that would be needed to hold up the road, the concrete and asphalt that would be needed, and those pounding waves that would try to destroy this bridge. It was just too much to do.
So the genie asked if he had another request. Disappointed, he thought and finally came up with another request. He said, "Can you help me to understand women, especially my wife?" The genie replied back, "Would you like that road to be 2 lanes or 4 lanes?"
The problem, besides the trouble Im in for that one, is sin and the only solution to that problem of sin is the penalty needs to be paid so we can be restored back to God. With man, yes, this is totally impossible. But, with God, all things are possible. You see, since the fall of man in Genesis chapter 3, God was working to provide a way for that restoration to take place.
The problem is that man, through his religious efforts, tries to cover his sin. You see, the first religion was the religion of the fig leaves, for Adam and Eve, after their sin, saw their nakedness, and to cover their sin, they sewed fig leaves together and placed them on their bodies. Now fig leaves are itchy and maybe they thought by being uncomfortable they were paying the penalty for their sin. Not so!
We do the same today, but we beat ourselves, maybe not physically but emotionally, we put ourselves down, we deprive ourselves of things, and-so-on, all in the hopes of making restitution for our sins. You know what, you are still a cracked pot, a broken vessel if you think that way.
In that story in Genesis chapter 3, God does not even acknowledge their efforts of sewing fig leaves together. Instead, He kills an innocent animal, I believe a lamb, and covers them with it. Do you see the picture that God is painting for us way back in Genesis, right after mans sin? That the innocent will pay the price for the guilty, the lamb will cover the sins of the sinner, you and me!
And from Genesis chapter 3 through Revelation chapter 22 we see the unfolding love story of God towards man as He shows us the way that our sins will be cast away, to be remembered no more and not only will man one day be completely restored, but so will the animals and this world. Paul put it this way in Romans 8:22-23, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body."
Now lets look at this a little closer. When John the baptist saw Jesus, he said, "...Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29. In other words, Jesus Christ was going to be the sacrificial lamb who would come to take away the sins of the world. God was going to put on a body of flesh, dwell among us, to pay in full the penalty for our sins. And dont think I am stretching this point to make Jesus fit, for Paul said in I Corinthians 5:7, "...For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." You see, He is our Passover Lamb and thus, we must take Him, receive Him into our lives to have His blood cover our sins so that the angel of death will pass over our lives!
According to the book of Exodus, the people were to take a lamb out of their flock on the 10th of Nisan and for 5 days they were to inspect it for any defect, any acquired or inherited problem. And then, on Passover, the 14th of Nisan, the Passover lambs would be slaughtered for a covering of their sins.
Now Jesus came to Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, we call it Palm Sunday, and He rode into town as the Messiah and the people shouted "...Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" Matthew 21:9. At this point the Passover Lamb is inspected for the next 5 days to see if they could find any acquired or inherited sin in Him and those that were inspecting Him were the religious leaders, the people and even Pilate! But they found no fault in Jesus. Yes, the religious leaders found fault in Jesus because He claimed to be God and that was blasphemy, but He is God, and thus, that was not blasphemy, it was not a sin.
Peter points this fact out to us regarding the perfection of Jesus when he said, "knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." I Peter 1:18-19. You see, we cant die for our sins or the sins of anyone else, for we have inherited sin - Adams, and acquired sin - our own. We cant buy our way to heaven. But Jesus was without sin, as Paul said in Hebrews 4:15, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
And thus, on the 14th of Nisan, on Passover, Jesus Christ was crucified, put to death for our sins. In fact, from 12 noon till 3 PM when Jesus gave up His spirit, He died, there was darkness on the face of the earth as the sins of the world were cast upon Him. And when He cried out "TETELESTAI," "Paid in full," "It is finished," He was speaking of the payment for our sins, all of our sins were paid in full by Jesus!
You see, the Old Testament sacrifices were a covering for our sins, they could never take away our sins completely. But, Christs work on the cross paid in full the debt of all of our sins so that now, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12. And in Isaiah 43:25 we are told, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins."
The Old Testament sacrificial system was a picture of what Christ would do for us, only this time it was not just a covering for our sins, He was completely removing them from our lives. You see, when He says that our sins will be removed as far as the east is from the west, understand that they never meet. You can travel east and as you keep going, you will still be going east! On the other hand, if Jesus said our sins are removed as far as the north is from the south, there would be a limit to it. You can travel north, reach the North Pole, go over the top, and then you would be heading south! But that is not what the Lord said, our sins will never be remembered again!
Turn to Hebrews chapter 9 and lets begin reading in verse 6, and keep in mind that Paul is speaking of the tabernacle or the temple here and what it represented. He said, "Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people's sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption...
...For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:6-14.
What a beautiful picture of what Christ has done for us, giving us "eternal redemption." Now that road, that bridge that was washed away, has been replaced by a solid, sturdy, indestructible road or bridge, called Jesus. That is the point that Paul is making in I Timothy 2:3-6, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
That word "mediator" speaks of a bridge builder. Jesus has repaired that road to God for us so that our relationship with the Father has been restored by faith. That is Peters point when he says, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit." Jesus has restored that fellowship for us.
Now some will argue, "That may be good for you, but I have my own way to God!" That may be true, but I hate to tell that person, that bridge is still out for them! There is only one God, only one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus, like it or not!
And I will tell you this, not only do I like it, I love it! God has taken this cracked pot, or crack pot, and has restored me. He has taken this broken vessel that was thrown into the potters field and has redeemed me with His blood, restoring that broken vessel into a vessel of honor for Him. I am on display, you are on display, showing the richness of Gods grace to the world!
Paul, in Ephesians 2:4-10 tells us after he shares with us how we are dead in our sins, just meandering through this life, being blown by the winds of this world, being guided by the god of this age, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
The word "kindness" in verse 7 speaks of love in action, not just empty words. And that is what we see in Jesus, love in action as He redeemed our broken lives. I dont know where you are at this morning. Maybe you are feeling broken, marred, damaged, just tossed in the garbage, and you know what, God does not want you there. Come to Him and ask Him to be Lord and Savior of your life, and He will. He wants to restore you, He does not want you to remain a cracked pot, a broken vessel.
If you are saved and you still feel that way, you are letting Satan mess with your mind and your emotions. Give it to God, for He cant love you anymore than He already does, and He cant love you any less! And God wants to put you on display for all the world to see. You are His workmanship, He is the Master Potter, and He wants to use you for His glory.
Maybe some of you remember the song "The Touch of the Masters Hand." I am not going to sing it to you, and the congregation said, "Praise the Lord!" But I will share with you the words of this song, for they are powerful and touch on what we have talked about this morning.
It was battered and scarred, the auctioneer thought it scarcely worth his wild, to spend much time in with the old violin, but he held it up with a smile. "What am I bid, good folk" he cried "Who will start bidding for me? A dollar once and wholl make it two, two dollars and wholl make it three? Three dollars once three dollars twice and going and gone but no!" From the far back a gray haired man came forward and picked up the bow. And wiping the dust from the old violin and tightening up the strings he played a melody pure and sweet as sweet as an angel sings. The music ceased and the auctioneer in a voice that was quite and low said "What am I bid for the old violin?" and he held it up with the bow. "A thousand dollars and wholl make it two, two thousand and wholl make it three, three thousand once, three thousand twice and going and gone said he."
The people cheered, but some of them cried "We do not quite understand what changed its worth?" The man replied "It was the touch of the masters hand." And many a man with life out of tune and battered and scared by sin is auctioned cheep by the foolish crowd, much like the old violin. A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game and he travels on, hes going once, hes going twice, hes going and almost gone. But the master comes in and the foolish crowd could never quite understand, the worth of a soul or the change that is wrought by the touch of the masters hand.
Our lives are changed by the touch of the Masters hand, never forget that fact! As I close this morning, I want to leave you with this story, for too often we feel we are not good enough for God to use us. We dont have enough talent or gifts for God to use us. "How can God use a person like me?" First of all, if you believe Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." then the rest is easy to believe, even that God can use people like you and me!
But many times we miss out because we are too stubborn in pride or whatever. Listen to this story by Tony Campolo, it goes like this:
I was asked to be a counselor in a junior high camp. Everybody ought to be a counselor in a junior high camp - just once. A junior high kids concept of a good time is picking on people. And in this particular case, at this particular camp, there was a little boy who was suffering from cerebral palsy. His name was Billy. And they picked on him.
Oh, they picked on him. As he walked across the camp with his uncoordinated body they would line up and imitate his grotesque movements. I watched him one day as he was asking for direction. "Which...way is...the...craft...shop?" he stammered, his mouth contorting. And the boys mimicked in that same awful stammer, "Its...over...there...Billy." and then they laughed at him. I was irate.
But my furor reached its highest pitch when on Thursday morning it was Billys cabins turn to give devotions. I wondered what would happen, because they had appointed Billy to be the speaker. I knew that they just wanted to get him up there to make fun of him. As he dragged his way to the front, you could hear the giggles rolling over the crowd. It took little Billy almost five minutes to say seven words.
When he finished, there was dead silence. I looked over my shoulder and saw junior high boys bawling all over the place. A revival broke out in that camp after Billys short testimony. And as I travel all over the world, I find missionaries and preachers who say, "Remember me? I was converted at that junior high camp." We counselors had tried everything to get those kids interested in Jesus. We even imported baseball players whose batting averages had gone up since they had started praying. But God chose not to use the superstars. He chose a kid with cerebral palsy to break the spirits of the haughty. Hes that kind of God.
- Alice Gray, Stories for the Heart, pp. 62-63
You see, it was the touch of the Masters hand! May we not forget that. God can use cracked pots like you and me, for He has purchased the field we were tossed in with His blood, and He can make us into vessels of honor for His use and for His glory! As Paul said, "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us." II Corinthians 4:6-7.