Ver. 3-5. Matthew (who alone reports this piece of history) interrupts his relation of our Saviour’s trial before Pilate, with an account of Judas’s end. We must not interpret Then strictly, so as to think Judas did this at the time when Christ was carried before Pilate, but some short time after; for they went immediately from the high priest’s hall to the judgment hall, and stayed there until Christ was condemned by Pilate, before they returned to come into the temple. But possibly it was that day, after Pilate had condemned him, or within some short time after that Judas (as it is said) repented himself; that is, began to be terrified in his conscience for what he had done. The consciences of the worst of men will not always digest mire and dirt, but sometimes throw it up, yea, though it hath first incurably poisoned them. Sin is sweet in the month, but bitter in the belly. All repentance is not saving. Nor doth all confession of sin obtain remission. Judas here repents, and confesseth he had sinned, and his particular sin, in betraying an innocent person; yet he findeth no mercy, he hath not a heart to beg forgiveness, nor to apply himself to Christ for remedy. But the answer of the chief priests and elders is very remarkable:
What is that to us? see thou to that. Wretched Judas! he had been the servant of these wicked men’s lusts, and for a poor wages served them in the highest act of villany. He falls into a distress of conscience for what he had done. What miserable comforters do they prove! Tempters never make good comforters. Those who are the devil’s instruments, to command, entice, or allure men to sin, will afford them no relief when they come to be troubled for what they have done: nor will it now satisfy the conscience of Judas, to remember that he had a warrant for apprehending Christ, and acted ministerially. The priests will not take the money, he throws it down in the temple, and goes and hangs himself. How great is the power of conscience, smiting for the guilt of sin! Judas could have no hope of a better life, so as all his happiness lay in the time of this present life; yet he is not able to allow himself that. The devil that entered into his heart to tempt him, now entereth again to persuade him to put an end to his misery in this life, by hastening himself to an eternal misery. Let all apostates, turning persecutors of innocent persons, read this, and tremble. There is a difficulty of reconciling this text to that of Luke, Act_1:18, where it is said of him, that falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. That which is usually said is, that he fell from the place where he hanged himself, and with the fall burst himself. I know there are some others, who think that the word aphgxato need not be translated, ‘he hanged himself’, but he was suffocated or strangled. Some think the devil strangled him, and threw him down a precipice. Others, that he was suffocated by some disease, which caused a rupture of his body. Others think (as we translate it) that he hanged himself, and swelling, his body brake, and his bowels gushed out. Concerning the manner of his death, we can determine nothing, but that he was strangled, and his bowels gushed out; both these the Scripture asserts, but how it was we cannot certainly tell.