The story has often been told of Mr. H. St. John standing in the private chapel of Keble College, Oxford, contemplating Holman Hunt's masterpiece, 'The Light of the World'. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a crowd of tourists led by a guide, a man with a particularly strident voice. After a hasty explanation of the painting, he announced, 'The original of this picture was sold for £5,000.' Without a moment's hesitation Mr. St. John stepped forward and said very quietly, 'Ladies and gentlemen, may I say that the true Original of this picture was sold for thirty pieces of silver?' After a moment's silence, the crowd of people passed out of the chapel without another word.
(Matt. 26. 14-16)
Thirty pieces of silver for the Lord of life they gave:
Thirty pieces of silver—only the price of a slave,
But it was the priestly value of the holy One of God:
They weighed it out in the temple, the price of the Saviour's blood.
Thirty pieces of silver laid in Iscariot's hand:—
Thirty pieces of silver, and the aid of an armed band,
Like a lamb that is brought to the slaughter, led the Holy Son of God
At midnight from the garden where His sweat had been as blood.
Thirty pieces of silver burned in the traitor's brain:
Thirty pieces of silver! but oh! it is hellish gain:
`I have sinned and betrayed the guiltless,' he cried with a fevered breath
And he cast them down in the temple and rushed to a madman's death.
Thirty pieces of silver lay in the House of God:
Thirty pieces of silver, but oh! 'twas the price of blood.
And so, for a place to bury the stranger in, they gave
The price of their own Messiah Who lay in a borrowed grave.
It may not be for silver: it may not be for gold;
But still by tens of thousands is this precious Saviour sold.—
Sold for a godless friendship, sold for a selfish aim,
Sold for a fleeting trifle, sold for an empty name!
Sold in the mart of science! sold in the seat of power!
Sold at the Shrine of Fortune! sold in Pleasure's bower!
Sold, where the awful bargain none but God's eye can see:
Ponder, my soul, the question, 'Shall He be sold by thee?'
Sold! O God, what a moment! stifled is conscience' voice:
Sold! and a weeping angel records the awful choice:
Sold! but the price of the Saviour to a living coal shall turn,
With the pangs of remorse for ever deep in the soul to burn.—William Blane
(Exod. 21. 32; Zech. 11. 12, 13; Matt. 26. 15; 27. 3, 4)
Still, as of old, man by himself is priced:
For thirty silver pieces Judas sold himself, not Christ.
(Matt. 27. 3, 4; Acts 1. 18)