Kenneth Samuel: What a Reward!

Excerpt from Acts 1:18-20

"(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) ‘For,' said Peter, ‘it is written in the book of Psalms,' ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.'"

Reflection by Kenneth L. Samuel

It has been said that we are not so much punished for our sins as we are punished by our sins. As much as we love to dwell exclusively upon the infinite mercy and steadfast compassion of God, this passage in Acts reminds us that there are severe consequences for the sins of treachery and deceit. The writer of Acts does not want us to miss any of the gruesome details accompanying the death of the disciple who betrayed his love for Jesus for a reward from the ruling religious elders. A tortured spirit . . . a violent fall . . . a disemboweled body . . . a bloody field . . . a public shame . . . a missing disciple . . . a wasted life . . . . These are among the wages of sin; these are among the rewards of deadly deception that we ignore at our own peril.

But the most tragic thing about Judas is not his death. It is his missed opportunity for new life. It is his failure to get to know Jesus better than he did. For had Judas really known Jesus, the life of Judas would never have ended in despair. Instead of falling and faltering in a field of guilt, Judas would have thrown himself into the merciful arms of his risen redeemer, where he would have found forgiveness and strength to walk through his dismal valley into a newness of life.


God, help us not to forget that the wages of sin is death. But help us to also remember that the gift of God is eternal life--life that does not surrender to death, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Taken with permission from the UCC's StillSpeaking Devotional