Peter and Judas
Last Tuesday night at Kairos, I talked about the betrayals of Peter and Judas. Their stories are remarkably similar, although we remember Peter very differently from Judas. For some reason, Judas is seen as evil while Peter is seen as well, clumsy in his cowardice.
But let’s face it. Both men betrayed Jesus. Both men let Jesus down. If you press me, I can make the case that Peter’s betrayal of Jesus is actually worse than that of Judas. Peter bragged he would never leave Jesus. He was closer to Jesus than Judas was and his betrayal must have hurt worse.
So, why do we think of them in such different ways? One reason: Judas gave up.
While both men let down Jesus, when Peter realized what he had done he went back to Galilee. He went to the place where Jesus had found him the first time.
Maybe Peter knew—just knew—that Jesus would somehow find him. Maybe Peter remembered the stories of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. Maybe he remembered the time he had walked on the water to Jesus, and then started to sink. Jesus came to him then. Peter knew Jesus would come find him. He had been underwater before. Jesus had found him then. Jesus would find him now.
Judas tried to give the money back. He threw the money back at the religious leaders and shouted his unforgettable confession. “I have betrayed innocent blood.” Judas, in realizing what he’d done, was actually closer to the truth in that moment than any of the other disciples.
But Judas ran away. He didn’t go to Jesus. He didn’t trust Jesus would love him, even in this moment. He gave into the despair.
Despair is the sin of believing that things are so bad that not even God can do anything with this mess. Judas didn’t believe Jesus could change anything. He ended up taking his own life.
But what if Judas had made another choice? What if he had run from the religious leaders to find Jesus? No, it wouldn’t have changed anything for Jesus. He still would have been crucified. The enemies of Jesus had what they wanted.
But things might have been different for Judas. If he had been able to find Jesus, Jesus would have forgiven him. I firmly believe that. I believe Jesus loved Judas just like He loved all of the rest.
Does it shock you to think that Jesus would have forgiven Judas? That Jesus loved Judas? It might. I know there are people surprised Jesus loves me.
But what if Judas hadn’t given in to the despair? What would be different? What would be different in your life if you don’t give into the despair? If you just keep believing, like Peter, that somehow Jesus will find me? If you just don’t give up and give God a chance to do something with the mess you have made?
Remember, the only difference between Peter and Judas is that Judas gave up. What about you?
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