Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
It was too late.
The actions Judas had taken had set in motion things that he could no longer control. He tried to take it all back. He tried to back out of it. But it was too late.
He had betrayed Jesus. “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” Regret filled his heart.
Sadly, the chief priests and elders failed Judas, because of course they had worked with him to betray innocent blood. Rather than helping Judas to be reconciled to God for his sin, they essentially said, “So what? It’s not our problem.”
You can imagine the stomach churning horror felt by Judas at this moment. In his mind, his sinful actions were now responsible for the terrible suffering Jesus was enduring and the death he would soon suffer. Judas regretted it, but he couldn’t change things.
While I doubt you’ve ever betrayed someone in such a way that it resulted in their crucifixion, I’m sure you’ve experienced the same feeling of regret. Words, once spoken, can’t be taken back. Actions once done, have occurred and we cannot undo them.
As you think back on your life, maybe there are things you regret having done…ways in which your words or actions have hurt others. You can’t undo that. It’s too late.
So what can you do? How do we hand it when the ghost of regrets from the past haunts our thoughts or when the guilt of our actions feels overwhelming?
Confess it. Confess the those against whom you have sinned and ask for their forgiveness.
You can’t undo the repercussions of your actions, but you can repent, ask for forgiveness, and help make restoration where possible.
Maybe those against whom you have sinned will forgive you.
Then again, maybe they won’t.
But there is one who will forgive and whose word of forgiveness has authority over all things. When Jesus speaks His Word of forgiveness to you, you are forgiven. And though there are times when we cannot fix what we have broken, Jesus is able.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
Judas had indeed betrayed Jesus, but Jesus suffering and death wasn’t caused by the betrayal, but was willingly endured by Jesus.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
– John 10:18
In Jesus our regrets are silenced and replace with hope.
Read the section on the Office of the Keys and Confession from Luther’s Small Catechism
- What are the two parts of confession?
- Can a pastor actually forgive sins?
- How might things have been different for Judas if those “church workers” had done their jobs faithfully and helped him to be reconciled to God by receiving forgiveness?
- How can confession and absolution help us when dealing with regrets?
- How can the knowledge that Jesus is making all things new give us comfort?
Mental Health Resources
Mental Health First Aid Training: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/population-focused-modules/youth/
Suicide Prevention Hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training: https://www.sprc.org/resources-programs/qpr-gatekeeper-training-suicide-prevention