This post is part of a 6-part series leading up to Easter service on April 16th. Click the inline Easter banner below for more details.
The Valley Church is currently doing a 6-part series leading up to Easter. The topic of this article was suppose to be on betraying Christ. At first I thought I would focus on Judas, then I realized that Peter also betrayed Christ, so why not do a comparison of their betrayals. Yet, the more I study the scriptures the more I feel that it is not a justified comparison. Judas betrayed Jesus because he was hateful, proud, and wicked. Peter betrayed Christ because he was afraid. One was served with the judgement and the other was given grace.
This is the struggle that we still have today.
There is an old and beautiful quote by Charles Spurgeon, ““The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins”. It was true of Judas and Peter and it is true of you and me. The gospel of grace melts souls to Christ and hardens others to a path of destruction.
We see this vividly when Mary anoints Jesus before his crucifixion. Judas’ response was that Mary should have sold the perfume for money and given the money to the poor. Now the scriptures say in John 12, that Judas was in charge of the disciples’ money and he stole from it regularly. But I like to think, it’s not in scripture, but I think it aligns with the story, that in this moment Judas truly decided to betray Christ. Jesus gave mercy and grace to Mary and her response was pure joyful worship. The sight must have made Judas disgusted.
The hatred that Judas held for Jesus ended up consuming him when Satan entered him. He betrays Jesus for money. Then sees that Jesus is sentenced to crucifixion. Feeling shameful Judas returns to the priests and tries to undo his sin by returning the money. Sin cannot be undone. We cannot un-lie, un-steal, or un-worship an idol. The consequence for sin is death (Romans 6:23). Instead of accepting the Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as justification, Judas decides to sacrifice himself for his own shame (Matthew 27:3-8).
As in stark contrast, when Peter sees Christ after his denial, he turns and runs, weeping bitterly (Luke 22:62). His heart is broken at his own sinful actions. We all sin and we fall short of the glory of God. Peter did not believe that he would deny Christ. Just hours before he took up a sword to defend Jesus, but now he was lying to a little girl (Luke 22:56). When Peter sees Christ after the resurrection, he is on a boat fishing, he throws on his clothes (because I guess fishing naked was a thing back then), and jumps in the water. Peter wants to be strong, he wants to love the Lord with all his heart, but his flesh keeps getting in the way. Paul talks about this in Romans 7:19, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.”
This is why Jesus’ response to Peter is grace by saying, “Peter do you love me?”. Jesus does not want our obedience out of fear or shame of the law, but out of abounding joy for the glory of God that has been shown in our redemption through the cross.
Let’s be clear, obedience is expected. Jesus wants us to strive for perfection. He knows that we will not make it, but he is also deadly serious about sin. So serious that He died one of the worst kinds of death so that you would be forgiven for that sin. Now your response is either you are melted by grace, mercy, and love for Jesus. That you glorify the Lord with the satisfaction that you take in Him. Or you live a life enslaved to idols that all lead to death. On Judgement day we will get what our hearts most long for: Christ or the absence of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).