Summary: The betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter came within hours of each other. The responses were similar, but, the overall outcome of each of these men was completely different. This morning I want to take a look at the betrayal of Judas and the denial
Last week we discussed the response to Jesus by Zacchaeus. His response was immediate. We talked last week about how our response to Jesus needs to be like this tax collector. We must own up to our mistakes. Repent, and then offer our lives as an example of what a follower of Jesus looks like. This morning we’re going to take a look at two guys, Judas and Peter and what their response to Jesus was. At first you might think that they had two completely different responses, after all, Judas betrayed Jesus, but the truth is that both of these guys had a similar response. Judas betrayed Jesus, but, Peter denied him. The betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter came within hours of each other. The responses were similar, but, the overall outcome of each of these men was completely different. This morning I want to take a look at the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter and I want us to notice the similarities between these responses. Then we’ll take a look at what was different about these two men. What we will discover this morning is that these men are flawed and deeply so, but, Peter is a life worth imitating and Judas is certainly not and we’ll discuss why that is.
First I want us to take a look at the personality of these men, at least as far as we can ascertain from the accounts we have recorded in the Bible. Judas first shows up on the scene in Matthew 10 as one of the twelve apostles. Jesus gives each of his apostles the authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of illness. I think this would’ve been an exciting time to be an apostle of Jesus. Just think about what kind of power these guys held in their fingertips. To heal the sick, the lame, the leper and the demon possessed. Jesus instructs his apostles to go to towns and preach to the people of Israel. And he tells them, “Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick.” These guys were beginning the mother adventure of all adventures. But this admonition not to take money with them would’ve been a sticking point with a guy like Judas.
Remember that every apostle of Jesus was just a guy. These were men who were flawed just like you and I. We don’t have time to take a look at each one of them, that might be a great study one day, just looking over the names you can’t help but notice that these men are regular guys. From what we remember from our Sunday School days we know James and John had terrible tempers and had a tendency to be full of themselves, Thomas has gotten a bad rap for his doubts about Jesus after his resurrection, Matthew was a tax collector, we would consider him an extortionist, Simon also known as “the zealot” was a political extremist, and then there’s Judas.
John 12 gives us a little more insight into the personality of Judas. Jesus decides to make a visit to some very close friends in Bethany; the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Some time before this Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. Now Jesus was returning and his friends prepared a special meal in his honor at Simon the Leper’s home. No doubt they were still beyond belief at the resurrection of Lazarus and unbelievably grateful for the power of Jesus and his willingness to express that power through the blessing of continued life for Lazarus. We have a sense of how overwhelmingly grateful they are through something that Mary did. Mary picked up a 12 ounce bottle of perfume called, spikenard, which doesn’t sound like it would smell all that great, but, was actually very expensive. John tells us that this jar of perfume was equal to a years wage. According to Canada statistics the median after tax income for a family of two or more in 2009 was $63,800. That’s pretty good compared to other median incomes for first world countries including the U.S. I doubt that would be how much this bottle of perfume costs though. For single folks in Canada the median income in 2009 was a little over $25,000 and that was probably closer to the cost of this perfume. I don’t know about you, but, whatever the cost, we know it was worth a years wage, so I’m thinking this was a very expensive gift meant to communicate how valuable Jesus was to them.
This was no spontaneous event. As soon as they were aware that Jesus was going to visit, Mary and Martha prepared a feast and a gift of gratitude that Jesus and those who were present would never forget. And even now more than two thousand years later people are still talking about what happened that evening. It was the night before Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem for the last time greeted by a huge crowd of adoring fans shouting his name and proclaiming him as the King of Israel.