As soon as I started this series again I got several questions about difficult Scriptures. Some of them deserve a blog post as I am sure many are struggling with them. We all know Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver, but how did he die? The Biblical evidence seems to contradict itself:
Matthew tells us:
Then he [Judas] threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself (Matt. 2.75)
but Luke tells us:
Now this man [Judas] purchased a field with the wages of iniquity, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out (Acts 1.18)
So, if you read these at face value, you might assume that they are contradicting each other, both telling different stories so that one or the other is wrong. However, we know that the Bible is never wrong, so we have to think and work it out.
Judas cannot have died from hanging and falling and bursting open at the same time, the Bible cannot contradict the Bible, so we have to look at Matthew and Luke as seeing the same event but from a different point of view.
Matthew was telling us what happened – Judas went and hung himself. Now Luke’s account at first seems a bit strange – people do not normally fall over and have their intestines fall out. But if we realize Luke is a doctor, and giving us a medical description of events, and we realize Judas hung himself in Jerusalem, between Passover and Pentecost, when the outside temperature is around 25 C, things start to make a lot more sense.
Warning – what comes next may put you off your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Judas hung himself in Israel under the beating sun, in the dry heat surrounding Jerusalem. And that meant his body would putrefy very quickly indeed, basically rotting while dangling from the noose. The body would become bloated and the skin would become very weak. And, as either the branch or rope he used to hang himself broke, he fell down, his skin burst and his entrails would have made quite a bit of a mess.
So, it quite clear these two Scriptures are painting the same tragic story, the humiliating end of a man who could never humble himself while alive.