PETER OR JUDAS?
Peter and Judas – two disciples who travelled the identical road with Jesus but who chose destinies as far apart as heaven is from hell. Why?
Was it because of their understanding and expectations – and how they processed their experience of walking with Jesus? How they understood Jesus and what they expected of Him had everything to do with what they did with their own failure in the end.
Peter’s failure was no less dismal than Judas’. Somehow we are more lenient on Peter than on Judas. Why? Is it because of the way they handled their betrayal that we can somehow forgive Peter but not Judas?
Peter’s remorse and broken heart left him despairing and hopeless but not suicidal. He had not fully processed Jesus’ promise that He would rise from the dead. Perhaps in the interim between Jesus’ death and resurrection, he was too numb to think about anything but his failure and his terrible sense of guilt. The resurrection came hot on the heels of his darkest moment and perhaps raised a faint hope that there could be forgiveness for him as well. I can imagine him dragging his heels at the back of the group, wanting so much to hear Jesus’ word of forgiveness and yet too ashamed to get close enough to look into His eyes.
Imagine Peter’s relief and joy when Jesus called him aside and questioned him, not about his failure but about his heart – his love for Him. That was the crux of the matter. His failure was a temporary lapse in his moment of fear, but his heart was for Jesus and Jesus knew that. All He wanted from Peter was the affirmation of his love. Jesus told Simon the Pharisee on a previous occasion, “The one who is forgiven much loves much.” From that moment, Peter’s heart was bonded with the heart of Jesus in a love which gave him courage in the end to lay down his life for his Master.
What of Judas? His remorse led him down a completely different path. Where Peter waited before taking action in his extreme emotion, Judas made a decision that cost him his life and his eternal destiny. Judas chose to punish himself by passing the death sentence and carrying it out while he was still in the depth of his emotional pain. He never knew the joy of forgiveness and reconciliation with Jesus.
What about you? How do you handle your failure? Do you run from Jesus and endlessly punish yourself, or do you run to Him, recognising that He has already paid your debt? It all depends on what the cross means to you.
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