April 3, 2021
Are You a Judas or a Peter?
What if we had a time machine and could go forward in time to see how a situation will play out, then return to the present? This glimpse into the future would significantly alleviate the drama, uncertainty, anxiety, and fear accompanying the decision we need to make in the present situation. The saying, “hindsight is 20:20,” echoes this principle. Because we know the outcome of the events of the Bible, it is easy to “predict” how we would have responded in some of the pressurized situations surrounding many miraculous stories like David facing Goliath, Joseph’s slavery and false imprisonment, Daniel in the lions den, Jonah in a storm and big fish belly, or all the predicaments Moses was in to name just a few.
But let’s take a 2000 year ride in the way-back machine to the precious days leading to Jesus’ death. During the time between Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (sorry to spoil the surprise), the disciples must have had all kinds of feelings swirling inside. They were in disarray as their leader, and soon to be King, was captured, arrested, tried, then swiftly and violently executed. They were discouraged, confused, bewildered, and especially afraid for their own lives.
I think Judas and Peter would have been the most affected. Judas, as Jesus predicted, betrayed Jesus for a mere 30 silver shekels. “Ever faithful” Peter actually denied Jesus 3 times while Jesus’ informal trial was going on, even though Jesus warned Peter just several hours earlier and predicted Peter’s cowardly decision. Peter, in total indignant disbelief of Jesus’ prediction, said he would never deny his Christ. In fact, Peter proudly proclaimed he would actually lay down his life for Jesus before ever denying Him.
As we know, both Judas and Peter screwed up big time and in essence, rejected Christ. Afterwards, they had to make a MAJOR DECISION. They could repent, receive God’s forgiveness, grace, love, and victory over sin, put their trust in Him and in His Son who died for them, and rejoice while receiving a peace that passeth all understanding. Or they could let sin defeat them, wallow in guilt, self-pity, and misery, and possibly kill themselves.
Judas relied on his own abilities and resources. Then realizing how flawed and impotent those were to deal with his actions, he decided nothing could overcome his despair, guilt and shame, so he killed himself. Peter, on the other hand, relied on God’s abilities and resources. Realizing how perfect and omnipotent they were to deal with his actions, he chose to repent, follow God, glorify Him, and live a victorious life.
We face this same choice every day. We are sinners who reject or betray Jesus every time we choose a “my will be done” mentality instead of a “thy will be done” mindset. It might manifest as an addiction, anxiety, fear, depression, a dysfunctional attitude or mindset, relational harm, or choosing not to forgive. There is no end to the list of ways in which we exalt our own need for comfort above Christ, thus denying Him as Judas and Peter did. Every time we “miss the mark” are outside of God’s will, we are saying we know better, are smarter than God and are lords of our life, denying Him His rightful position in our life.
Today, choose to side with our victorious Savior. Don’t be faked out by Satan who wants you to believe your situation is bleak, your actions are irreparable, and Jesus is not victorious. Judas killed himself … Peter became the rock of the early church that revolutionized the world. What will you decide? If you choose to act like Peter, don’t let your decision be once and done. Make it an intentional, daily decision. Achieving your God-given potential and receiving the love, joy and peace you strive for depends on your daily discipline. Whether you respond to your me-first sin like Peter or you respond like Judas is your decision, so choose well.
O gracious Father, I confess that even though I have You on the throne of my heart and mind intellectually, in reality, I often reject Your Lordship. I put my selfish desires, agendas, and need for comfort on the throne of my heart. Thank You so much for the unconditional forgiveness that You extend to me, even when I reject you. Like the incredible father who received his prodigal son, You open Your arms to me every time I return. Then You throw a feast and bless me beyond my dreams. I ask you to energize me with Your amazing greatness and goodness. Grow me to be as gracious to others as You have been to me. I pray in the name of the One who stood up for me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61,62
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:1-3
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. Matthew 27:3-5