Summary: How does one recover from a time of denial and betrayal? What does real repentance look like on the road back? Learn from the lives of Peter and Judas in this compare and contrast message from Luke 22.
“Battling the Bite of Betrayal”
How many of our high schoolers here today have had to write a contrast and compare paper already? Go ahead, raise your hand (you seem so excited that I brought up school on a Sunday)! Seriously, remember the way you would take two ideas, objects or people and show their similarities as well as their differences? It’s a good way to learn and gain insight.
This morning, let’s turn back the clock (at least for the adults in here) and do some C & C work using Peter and Judas. Let’s “contrast and compare” Peter and Judas as a way to understand how to come back from the bite of betrayal. Yes, both were part of the twelve, both dealt with the lure of denial and betrayal, and both had lapses in judgment. They’re different, however, in that only one found a place of repentance; only one was restored. Let’s learn some things about recovery by contrasting and comparing these two individuals.
First, let’s investigate Peter in Luke 22:47-62. Would you circle the word “remembered” in 22:61. This is the real cornerstone of Peter’s return.
Next, let’s gain some insight into Judas by reading and Matthew 27:1-10. Here, underline the phrase “seized with remorse” in 27:3. This holds the key to understanding his inability to be restored.
The gist of this comparison is found in those words and phrases I asked you to circle and underline. So with your pen handy, let me shed some light on these phrases and words as a way to show the difference in their responses.
When the Bible says that Peter remembered, it is referencing a mental activity of deep thought. The word “remembered” is a combination of two words -- “to chew” and “to remain.” In other words, he thought long and hard about what Christ had said to him. It is a word that describes a mental process of anguish, and contains similarities to the word “repent” in that both words contain elements of the mind.
Judas, however, lacked this mental recognition and reflection in his situation. The words “seized with remorse” are indicative of a mere emotional feeling, not a mind change. In fact, the words are used more to talk about someone’s regret over specific things they don’t like, not necessarily someone’s mental anguish regarding the whole or entirety of one’s situation. True, this word is translated “repented” in the KJV, but the sense of the context shows us that Judas was merely responding emotionally to an incident and regretted what he did.
Understand that both words hang close together. They both have some sense of turning associated with them, and this makes the task of dissecting them somewhat difficult. But Peter’s “remembered” is rooted in a fixation on the Lord, and that stands in stark contrast to Judas’ “remorse,” which is entrenched in a selfish desire to vindicate himself.
Peter repented because of the Lord’s look and the Lord’s Word, and as he saw what his sin did to his Lord and others, this produced a mental “about face.” Judas, however, was only regretful because he saw what his sin did to him. This only brought about an emotional, angry attempt at clearing his name. And therein lays the greatest difference between repentance and remorse. Repentance begins in the mind and is others-focused; remorse begins in the heart and is self-centered.
It is from this word remembered that I believe Peter repented – he mentally turned around! And that’s what repentance is: a 180 degree change in action because of a decision in the mind. It’s a “decision in the mind” that is “displayed in the feet!” He chewed on the words, remained fixed on the Lord’s look, stayed focused on Christ’s prophecy, and as he thought about that, he truly repented. He knew he had failed in his relationship. His concern was truly towards someone else; it was outward in its nature. That’s repentance, in that it moves us to change because of the pain or hurt we have brought to someone else.
Judas, on the other hand, only saw the pain he caused himself. He regretted what he had done (betraying innocent blood), and knew that he had made a mistake. He felt badly, but not repentant. It was a realization rooted in selfishness, not selflessness. He wasn’t repentant, just regretful and remorseful.
As John Macarthur writes, “He was sorry, not because he had sinned against Christ, but because his sin did not satisfy him the way he had hoped. His remorse was not genuine repentance. If that were the case, he would not have killed himself. He was merely sorry because he did not like what he felt.” (Twelve Ordinary Men, p. 195-196)