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Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled By Jesus Christ

Chapter Four

Christ and Thirty Pieces of Silver

Prophecy - Zechariah 11:12-13
Fulfillment - Matthew 26:15, Matthew 27:3 & 9

In the entire Bible there are only five references to “thirty pieces of silver.” It is interesting to note that two are found in the Old Testament and three are in the New Testament. Though the Old Testament passage from Zechariah, seems to have no direct connection to Christ, the New Testament references of Matthew are clearly and indisputably linked to Jesus. Judas betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver. Neither Mark, Luke nor John mentions the amount Judas received for the betrayal. They do call to our attention the fact that he received a significant sum of money from the Jewish authorities.

Although the Old Testament references do not speak directly of our Saviour, they have been viewed by many as a “Messianic Prophecy.” The obvious connection is found in the amount of money specified both in the Old and New Testaments. In addition, there is a connection to be made because Zechariah addressed the subject of shepherds, which is repeatedly used to depict the work of Christ Jesus. Thus, the prophetic words of Zechariah seem to have been fulfilled by Christ as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. It certainly seems more than coincidence that the exact number of silver coins is mentioned in both places. Surely there is a connection and we will explore it in this chapter.

We begin by considering the passage found in Zechariah. The passage is about someone who asked to be valued or a price assigned to the worth of what he does. They weighed or pieces of silver and gave them to the potter. Interestingly, as we look at Matthews’ gospel, we notice that Judas and the Jewish leaders had agreed upon the same price for the betrayal of Christ (Matthew 26:15). Later Judas realized he had done wrong and returned the money. The men with whom he discussed the matter had no concern for his predicament. They refused the return of the money because it was considered “blood money.” Since they could not put it in the Temple treasury, Judas threw down the silver coins and later hanged himself. The Jewish leaders decided to use the money to buy a field in which to bury strangers and they called it “the potter’s field.” Notice there is a double connection between the passage in Matthew and Zechariah. In both passages thirty pieces of silver and the potter are mentioned. It appears that God intended for us to make a connection between the two.

If there is a connection to be found between the two passages, it is to be found in Christ alone. Although the passage in Zechariah makes no mention of Christ, both references in Matthew are clearly and indisputably about Him. They deal with His betrayal, which led eventually to His crucifixion and death. So there must be some connection to Christ in Zechariah’s prophecy.

A close study of Zechariah’s account reveals that the eleventh chapter is primarily about shepherds. Early in the chapter God condemns the shepherds of that day and through His prophet commands them to “Feed the flock of the slaughter” (verse 4). Later God says “I will feed the flock” (verse 7). Some may argue as to whether God or Zechariah would feed them, but in either case the flock is Divinely fed. Then in the final verses of the chapter God condemns the “foolish shepherds” (verse 15).

All these references are about shepherds, good and bad. The entire chapter focuses on shepherds and God’s interest in the flock. Surely there is a message here and if we carefully extract it as though it is buried treasure, our hearts will be enriched. To do so, we must understand that in the light of the failures of earthly shepherds, God said, “And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock” (Zechariah 11:7). God actually did become our Shepherd, in the Person of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament there is an abundance of references where Christ is presented as the Divine Shepherd. Apparently, God designed this simple connection between the Old and New Testaments to focus our attention on His only begotten Son as our Shepherd.

Let us consider a few Scriptures that will hopefully open our eyes of faith to this wonderful truth about Jesus. The first we will consider is found in John, chapter ten. It would seem doubtful that a believer could read that chapter and miss the fact that Jesus is portrayed as a shepherd. In fact Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Shortly thereafter He adds, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). Later in the chapter Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). It seems perfectly clear that in our redemption, Christ viewed Himself as our “good Shepherd.”

But, there is more evidence to give this idea credence. In Hebrews 13:20, He is called the “great Shepherd.” In I Peter 2:25 He is identified as the “Shepherd and Bishop of our souls” and He is also referred to as the “chief Shepherd” in I Peter 5:4. Why this repeated allegory? Because, as God chose us and gave us to Christ, He adopted us into the family of God as was predestinated (Ephesians 1:4-5). Therefore He died for us and shed His precious atoning blood that we might have the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7). In God’s plan of redemption, His sheep and protecting us from eternal damnation. Just as shepherds of those days often stood between the flock and a predator, so Jesus as our Divine Shepherd stood between us and Satan, our enemy, who wanted to devour and destroy us (I Peter 5:8). God is so good to us! Even in prophecy, He provided a trail of money (thirty pieces of silver) which leads our hearts to view our Lord Jesus Christ as our Shepherd.

Now, if we have grasped this glorious connection, there is even more we can learn about our Divine Shepherd. We need to be aware that ancient shepherds often led their sheep. They not only led them to food and water, but also away from many threatening dangers. As our Shepherd, Jesus also leads us as His people. In John 13:15 Jesus said, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” As our Shepherd, He will never lead us astray. He will always lead us in the “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).

If we live in sin and rebellion to God and His Word, it is not because the Shepherd has misled us, it is because we have failed to follow Him in the path of truth. If we sin, we are at fault and our failures can never be blamed upon our Shepherd. Like natural sheep, we sometimes go astray just as in Isaiah 53:6. He said, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” So let us lovingly and obediently follow this blessed Shepherd, Who is worth far more than thirty pieces of silver.

Even though Zechariah and Matthew mention the thirty pieces of silver, there is a similar sum mentioned in the Book of Exodus. Exodus 21:32 says, “If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.” One noticeable difference is clear; thirty pieces of silver is changed to thirty shekels of silver. While the word change does occur, we need to understand that the shekels are coins or pieces of silver. So, it appears that again the reference is likely connected to Christ. However, now we view Him as a Servant as well as a Shepherd.

In the Exodus passage, civil laws and judgments were given to assist people with problem situations. It deals with an ox goring someone and killing them. If a servant was injured, the price which must be paid amounted to thirty shekels of silver. Strangely enough, the amount again connects us to the passage in Matthew. Apparently, when Judas wanted money to betray Christ, the servant’s price was offered. So what does that tell us as we connect it to Christ? God wants us to see His Son, not only as a Shepherd, but also as a Servant. Truly, Jesus was a servant to God and man. Just as all of us have various roles and titles which identify us, so did Christ. Many titles are given to Him for He revealed Himself as “the way, truth and life” (John 14:6). He also told us that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) and “the true vine” (John 15:1). Clearly, He is seen as more than just “the light of the world” (John 8:12). Even so, He is Shepherd and Servant.

Jesus served our heavenly Father by leaving heaven and coming into this world. He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He came to accomplish the Father’s will by saving us from the penalty of sin; yet in doing so He also became our Servant. In fact Jesus said, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth” (Luke 22:27). Like a servant waiting tables, so our Lord became the Servant of God and man. Paul said, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). Jesus also took the position of a servant when He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) and He took the form of a servant when He went to Calvary and there took our sins upon Himself (I Peter 2:24) and died for us (I Corinthians 15:3). Indeed, while on earth, Jesus became a servant to God His Father and to us as His chosen people.

Oh, what a debt we owe Him! Since He served us, surely we ought to lovingly and unceasingly serve Him. Psalm 100:2 says, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Isn’t He worthy of our best? Have you truly been able to see Christ as Servant as well as Lord and Master (John 13:13)? If so, nothing we do for Him should seem too great a sacrifice. All the years of tireless service in His church will seem far too small a gift to give Him. Peter said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). Does Peter describe you? Not unless you are showing forth His praises! Hopefully, the Scriptures have enabled you to see Jesus Christ as our Shepherd and Servant. May Jesus be praised in all that has been presented, with no injustice to the truth of God’s holy Word. May the Holy Spirit, Who inspired all Scriptures (II Timothy 3:16-17), use these humble thoughts for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ and encourage us to follow Christ, our Shepherd, more perfectly as we endeavor to serve Him with all our hearts.

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This page last updated on November 1, 2015