What Thirty Pieces of Silver Buys: Christmas Devotional for Teenagers

We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a 16-day Christmas devotional series centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season. 

We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!

Then I said to them, ‘If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.’ And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter. (Zechariah 11: 12 – 14a)

This event in the life of the Old Testament prophet Zechariah foreshadows in the most detailed way Judas’ betrayal of the Lord Jesus. Have you ever been betrayed or sold out by someone? I sure have. It is the worst kind of hurt. Jesus was sold out for thirty pieces of silver by a trusted friend which led to his humiliating and painful death on a cross.

So first, what about Zechariah and those thirty pieces of silver?

The Lord commands Zechariah to become the shepherd of a flock doomed to the slaughterhouse. The prophet cares for the sheep but he becomes impatient with the cruelty of the other shepherds. Zechariah quits and asks the sheep traders to consider paying him for his work. He is paid thirty pieces of silver, which in that time was the price of a slave. This is a huge insult. The Lord then instructs Zechariah to throw the silver to the potter working in the house of the Lord.

Fast forward 500+ years and Matthew tells us that Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver by the Chief Priests to betray Jesus (Matthew 26: 14 – 16). When Judas accomplishes his task with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ death unfolds in the next hours. Judas, realizing what he has set in motion, is remorseful and throws the thirty coins back to the bribers in the Temple. The Chief Priests do not want the “blood money,” so they use it to purchase a burial ground for outcasts called “Potter’s field” (Matthew 27: 3 – 8).

Thirty pieces of silver, the cost of a slave, blood money, the cost of a burial ground for outcasts, secured Jesus’ crucifixion. You and I, depending on the day, are by this world’s reckoning not worth thirty pieces of silver. We are on the “EVERYTHING MUST GO, 75% off” rack. We are like Zechariah’s flock of sheep, doomed to the slaughterhouse. But, by the grace of God, we are not marked down and put on the outcast-rack when we really screw up, or just feel betrayed and worthless. We don’t have a price tag! To God we are priceless. And instead of death he give us life everlasting.

I hope you find this as awesome as I do. When you are “sold out” by the world as an outcast, what remains unchanged is the “not for sale” relationship you have in Jesus Christ. We are at this moment in the Advent season expecting this very truth: God, in His son Jesus, is with us. We cannot shake him. He will never sell us to another owner or swap us out for a better deal. He has paid the price so we might be priceless.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you felt betrayed? Have you been a betrayer? What does Jesus have to say to you on either account? What has he paid for you?
  2. In what ways do you measure yourself? Measure others? How does the truth that you are, in Christ, priceless cause you to measure yourself and others differently?
  3. The Bible is so beautiful and layered. The word of God is a blessing to be known in its totality. Thirty pieces of silver is a reoccurring theme in the Bible all the way from Exodus to Matthew. How might that inspire you to want to go deeper and know more?


Dear Lord and my only shepherd: Thank you for making yourself worth thirty silver coins so I can be, in you, priceless. Forgive my accounting of myself and of others. Please, Lord, let me live as one of your beloved sheep, paid for and not doomed to a slaughterhouse. Amen.

Click here for a downloadable pdf to print and share with your teenagers.

Click here for the entire series as it is posted.

Carolyn Lankford lives in Birmingham, Alabama and has three grown children with her late husband, Frank. Formerly a co-director of Christian Education at the Church of the Advent, Carolyn served as the Advancement Officer at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University before transitioning back to the Advent to work as Interim Director of Women's Ministry from 2021-2022.

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