Betrayal…is such a horrible thing. If we are all truly honest with ourselves…we have been a betrayer at one time or another. We have betrayed a confidence or we have betrayed a friendship in our mind even with a critical thought. There are many other ways to betray; I’ve just mentioned two of which I am guilty.
If you are following along with the new series of blogs, or are just now joining, I have been encouraging the reading and study of the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are four different accounts of Jesus’ life. When you study them all together, I like to say in harmony, you can piece together all the real events and gain a better understanding of how things unfolded –– four different perspectives. All four books are inspired by God and written by men. As I have learned to study and draw from all four gospels so many things become more clear to me.
Today, I’m going to compare two men from all four gospels. They were two of Jesus’ disciples who traveled with Jesus, personally witnessed the miracles He performed and listened to all of His teaching. They were in Jesus’ inner circle. At the end of Jesus’ life, both men, Peter and Judas, betrayed Jesus. There are so many lessons for us in studying the harmony of all four gospels and the hearts of these men and, Jesus’ response to them.
Judas, called to be a disciple, was the one voted by all the others to be in charge of the money for the group. This was a huge responsibility and this job would have been assigned to one who could be trusted. Judas was viewed as upright and one who would have been known for his aptitude. If you look at Peter, he was a fisherman, called to be a disciple, not an accountant.
Fishermen, back in that day, were considered manly men with hot tempers and vulgar language. They were traditionally uneducated but would’ve had ample wits and survival skills acquired by working hard and braving the seas. I love studying the disciples and how God called all types of men to follow Him. God’s character has not changed for, today, He still desires all, from the smart to the uneducated, from the poor to the rich, from the gentle to the vulgar, to come to Him.
As you study the four gospels, you see that Peter was impulsive and very emotional. I identify with Peter, the good and the not so good. I do love Jesus, just as Peter did, but often “fear” has gripped me like it did Peter and there has been betrayal. I praise God that in the last ten years of my life I have learned “fear” is from the enemy. I have learned how to recognize fear and pray through it. While I still feel fear, I step for Jesus now and have more Godfidence to know God has me regardless of the fear I feel. Peter betrayed Jesus because of fear. He denied him three times after Jesus had been arrested. I encourage you to read it for yourself and see how Jesus, after His resurrection, restored Peter. Peter went on to do great things in the name of Jesus.
Judas is quite a different story. Judas started off good and in a position of trust and love by the other disciples. Along the way, Judas’ journey of sin grows big. Not one of the disciples saw Judas’ horrible betrayal coming, not even Judas himself.
When you read in John 12:1-7, you read about a time just before Passover. Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper eating. A woman came with an expensive bottle of perfume (worth a whole year’s wages) and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Judas became critical when he witnessed this and said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?” It continues to say in the account found in John, “He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. As keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
You have to remember, all these books were a written account after the events. At this time, John recounts, as does Mark, that Jesus rebuked Judas and said, “Leave her alone!” And He went on to to say, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:7-8).
If you turn to read Mark’s account of the same incident, you see that it states, right after Jesus rebuked Judas for being critical, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Mark 14:10-11). Judas’ sin of being a thief grew into his pride being hurt from being called out by Jesus in front of the other disciples. That carried him to betray and sell Jesus out.
If you continue to read in all four gospels, again harmonizing them, you see Judas committed suicide by hanging himself. In the book of Acts, this is the book right after John in the Bible, we get even more details about Judas’ suicide. We see the branch he hung himself on broke and he fell and his guts splattered over the ground. You also read Judas’ confession that he had betrayed an innocent man. After Jesus is sentenced to death, he goes and throws the money back, but his guilt was still so overwhelming that he committed suicide.
We all sin. Those closest to Jesus, who loved Him and followed Him and learned from Him who witnessed, in person, His miracles were also sinners. What do we learn?
When we invite Jesus into our heart and lives, as I have stated in previous blogs, it doesn’t all of a sudden make the stars line up for us. It doesn’t mean everything will become perfect in our lives or that we will become perfect just as the men who were Jesus’ disciples were not perfect. Sin will always be something we will contend with. Something we will battle but when we invite Jesus into our lives, and the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us, we should be convicted of our sin.
Look at the difference between Peter and Judas and what they did with their sin. Judas took things and his life into his own hands. If you read Luke’s account of Peter’s denial, Luke 22:60-62, Peter replied, “’Man, I don’t know what you are 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 three times.’ And he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly.” After Jesus resurrection and Jesus’ appearance to the disciples, you see that Jesus forgave Peter and restored him and Peter went on to do great things in Jesus’ name.
We have a choice of what to do with our sin because we have a “compass,” the Holy Spirit, to guide us. The Holy Spirit will convict us of our wrong/sin and we can repent and be restored. We see God’s character and heart as we study the life of Peter.
Today, reading God’s word, prayer, and being involved in worship with a community of believers is vital to live a surrendered life which leads to a life of significance. Hopefully you are taking this walk into the Light…
the light and love of Jesus,
the forgiveness that He gives freely when we humble ourselves,
and the restoration.
He uses us as he did Peter.
I encourage you, today, to incorporate into your daily walk with Jesus a time of confession of sin. We all sin every day. We will not live perfect lives but we can live effective lives if we continually seek Jesus and defer to Him.
Few things accelerate the peace process as much as humbly admitting our own wrongdoing and asking forgiveness.” ~Lee Strobel