We have all betrayed a friend. Sometimes it’s out of hurt or anger, sometimes it is completely unintentional, and sometimes we think it will bring about a desired outcome; it’s simple selfishness. Jesus was betrayed but His best friends and I believe that while they probably had different reasons, they also had different outcomes. Judas never meant for Jesus to be executed. He thought it would accomplish something different. Maybe he thought it would force Jesus to act — to DO something. Maybe he thought the massive followers would fight for Him. It doesn’t really matter WHY he did it; we learn from how he handled it.
In these verses we see several things about Judas:
- He betrayed Jesus.
- He didn’t mean to get Jesus killed.
- He was filled with remorse.
- He tried to fix it himself.
If we correlate that to our own sin we can see where the problem lies. It wasn’t with his betrayal, it was all in how he responded to it. Let’s look at it through our own lens: We disobey, we are surprised that there are consequences, we feel bad, then what? Do we try and fix it ourselves? That didn’t end well for Judas (verse 5). Sin isn’t the problem for us as followers of Christ. Sin is expected; we are going to do it as long as we reside in this fallen world. Consequences for our sin are expected; disobedience doesn’t go unnoticed or unchecked by God. Consequences should be expected; they bring us to a place of remorse. It is that last step that determines are growth or our destruction. Will we try to resolve the sin issue ourselves or accept Christ’s work on the cross as payment?
It is most often our self-sufficiency that leads us to sin. All sin is really rooted in pride, an “I can do this myself” or an “I know what’s best for me” mindset. When we realize our mistake and are brought to the place of remorse, what are we regretting? Is it the consequences or is it the disobedience. If we regret the outcome, like Judas, we try to undo our mistake. But, if we regret the disobedience, then we recognize our inability to fix it ourselves; we accept that we do NOT know what’s best. It is in this place of humility that the power of the cross is revealed.
Peter is a beautiful example of this. He was a prideful disciple, part of Jesus’ inner circle, and he vehemently denied that he would EVER do something so awful as denying Jesus. We learn about it in Matthew 26:33-35. You see his pride. He is telling the Son of God that He is wrong in His declaration. Instead of heeding the warning and avoiding sin, he promptly dismisses the idea. When we remember how far we can fall, we live on guard. We are watchful and intentional with our choices. We daily surrender our control and our will, resubmitting to the lordship of Jesus.
But that isn’t the end of Peter’s story. We know he, too, betrayed Jesus — three times (Matthew 26:69-75). It’s interesting that he didn’t realize it while he was in those places of denial. He realized it when he heard the rooster crow (verse 75). We often don’t realize our sin in the moment. There is often a catalyst that exposes it. For Judas it was the death sentence, for Peter it was the rooster, but there is always a moment of realization and accountability. Verse 75 also tells us that Peter walked away weeping bitterly. He then walked in that regret for two days. He didn’t try to fix it and he recognized that he couldn’t make it right. This is the state we all are in when we realize we can’t do anything about our sin. Luke 24:11-12 shows us an interesting insight; when the women left the empty tomb and told the disciples what had happened the men didn’t believe them. But Peter was a desperate man and ran to the tomb to see for himself. He left the empty grave “wondering what had happened.” This was the first moment of hope since his denial. This was his “what if…” moment. There is one particular description of Jesus’ resurrection that offers a beautiful insight – Mark 16:7 says “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.” What a moment that must have been for Peter! After two days of regret, hopelessness, and despair, he receives a reassurance — Jesus is not only alive, He wants to see Peter.
We have all betrayed God — before salvation and after. We all walk in pride and have to choose daily to allow Jesus lordship over our lives. The challenge comes when we don’t… when we disobey, deny, and disappoint. How will we respond? Will we remain in our pride like Judas, or walk in humble repentance like Peter. You know the rest of Peter’s story, don’t you? Jesus said to him, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18) And that’s exactly what He did.
- When your sin is exposed, how do you generally respond? With self-sufficiency like Judas or brokenness like Peter?
- Do you regret getting caught or do you feel remorse for your own disobedience? Why do you think that is? How might God be asking you to view sin differently?
- The cross and the empty tomb changed everything. Write a prayer telling God what that means for you.