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Two Men

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself." Matthew 27:3-5 (NIV)

 "Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly." Luke 22:60-62 (NIV)

Two accounts of two different men, very similar stories. Similar journeys. Identical Master and Lord. Identical Teachings from the Rabbi Himself. Both betrayed Him. One experienced two deaths. The other experienced a death and then a birth.

What happened here? Was Judas' sin beyond forgiveness? Some would argue yes. Jesus Himself says "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Matthew 26:24 (NIV). Didn't both Judas and Peter betray Jesus? Don't we all end up betraying Jesus?

How did Judas end up taking his own life and Peter kept living? Could it be humility? Did Peter humble himself and decide Jesus' words were more True than his feelings and experience? When Jesus talked about forgiving 77 times 7, maybe Peter realized that he needed that much forgiveness. Or when the prodigal son ran home, Peter saw himself as the one who threw away his relationship with Jesus and was taken in by the Father in love and forgiveness. He saw Jesus deliver and heal the demoniac-surely Jesus could heal and forgive him. Peter saw the blame was on himself, but he also saw who Jesus truly is and his hope was in the person of Jesus. The love and forgiveness of Jesus.

Peter knew Jesus had prayed for him. And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” Luke 22:31-34 (NIV) I don't think we truly know how close Peter was to taking his own life or the torment he endured or for how long after he betrayed Jesus those three times. We see how he swam towards Jesus after he betrayed him. This is not a man who is ashamed but one who knows His Savior in an intimate way. Secure in His love.

In contrast, the few times Judas is mentioned he seems focused on money. He also seems more distant from Jesus' heart. There is a slow fade or a wide chasm that may never be crossed by His followers. A "safe" distance. Money. Reputation. Safety. Self righteousness. So many things can keep us from a reckless love affair with Love Himself. Sadly, I am not sure if Judas ever got to really truly know Jesus. It takes Humility to know Jesus, to let Him in. One of the first things He does is show us our sin so He can heal us and set us free. Did Judas ever let Jesus in? Did he only hear him and not listen? Sadly, his pride was so great, his empire so tall, he could not withstand the fall. He had tuned Jesus out so long ago, that when he realized he was the cause of Jesus' death, all he saw was his life as a waste and a failure. He was deaf and blind to the Truth, the Way, and the Life. He was left with himself. Trapped. He saw no light, only darkness. He became his own way, truth, and life. He saw himself for who he was and could not see the Savior.

I believe Pride destroyed Judas. Pride that ate him his entire life and had its way in the end. Pride that grew and grew. There is no person or pit too deep for any of us, but unfortunately there may be some empires too tall for people to climb or jump down from. Pride is what made Satan fall, Eve take the fruit, Joseph's brothers throw Joseph into the pit, and the people ignore Noah when the flood came. Its an inward focus on our lives, voice, feelings, and experiences and that we build our own empires. Jesus can come along too (as a support). How dangerous to not get on our knees and let God's love break us apart. How scary to keep Him at a distance and think we know better than the God of the Universe. Even Peter, in his naivete said he would never deny Jesus.

Peter was willing to look at his humanness, his frailty, his fears and realize how much he is need of forgiveness, love, and most of all Jesus. He was able to look away from himself.

All Judas saw was how he failed and killed Jesus. He was unable to believe that there was any love, hope, or healing for him. He saw no way out. He couldn't see Jesus or remember His words. "I will never leave you or forsake you."

"teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 (CSB) All the words He spoke to Peter, He spoke to Judas too.

Peter looked to Jesus and became a "Rock" and was remade and reborn.

Judas looked to himself and realized his intelligence, success, money, self-righteousness, reputation, or anything else he collected along the way couldn't save him.

Who do you relate to the most? What do you need to do to grow in humility? The same words Jesus spoke to Judas and Peter, He is speaking to you and I.


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