Summary: Examine the different reactions to the sins of Judas and Peter in the Passion history.
Shadow and Light: Judas and Peter
If there’s one thing you notice when reading the Bible is that it doesn’t hold back. It fully reveals God’s wrath and God’s love. God wasn’t afraid to have people put to death on a wide scale basis. He also didn’t hold back on His wrath on His Son; which the Bible describes in great detail. It also fully reveals man’s sin; and there are some really striking examples of sinful behavior in the Bible. One of the more shocking things is that some of this sinful behavior is done by those who are supposed to be God’s people. We are well familiar with Abraham’s adultery, Cain’s murder, and David’s murder and adultery. The Old Testament is full of rebellion and sin.
When unbelievers read how some of the patriarchs behaved, they love to ridicule this and make fun of the stories. The temptation of believers is to hide these stories under the rug or to be embarrassed of them. Don’t discuss them in Sunday School. Make everything sound more palatable. Yet sin is sin; disgusting as it may be.
For the Christian, we really ought not to shy away from these stories. They reveal who we are or what we could do. They also reveal how gracious God is in His mercy. Today we look at two sinners sin. We look at two disciples sin. Their names are Judas and Peter. This should not surprise us. Sin is what sinners do. Yet some sins do stand out; and these ones definitely fit the bill. The two disciples respond to their sins in different ways. One in darkness, the other in light.
I. The shadow of Judas
Matthew 27:5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
We all know that Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The Bible clearly details that his demise was partly due to the fact that he was full of greed. Some speculate that he may have also been disheartened by the way Jesus didn’t become more active in politics or do more to overthrow the religious establishment. Tonight I’m not going to talk about all of what caused him to get there. I’m going to talk about what he did AFTER the betrayal.
In some sense it would appear that Judas did many things right after he sinned. Matthew 27:3-4 says, “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” The Bible says that Judas was “seized with remorse.” I was curious about that word. Was it a genuine word for repentance, or was it only an empty going through of the ritual. It isn’t the same word as “repent”, but from all I could tell it indicates an actual heart felt sorrow over what you’ve done. The other usages of the word never indicated a feigned or fake repentance.
Why was he sorry? He hadn’t been “caught” and forced to confess, so it couldn’t have been a mere sorrow over getting caught. Listen also to what he says. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” This is true. He didn’t just say “I might have made a slight error in judgment.” He didn’t excuse himself with a lie by saying, “I think you might have the wrong guy.” He said, “I have sinned.” These are not the words of someone who doesn’t know God. These are the kind of words that believers use. “Sin” is a dirty word in our society. People don’t like to use it. They prefer “mistake” or “error” or “misunderstanding.” But Judas says it and confesses it. “I have sinned.” This word indicates a relationship with God; a responsibility towards God; and a breaking of His almighty law. Sin is not just a mistake that two humans have, where one mistakenly hurts another person. Sin is first and foremost a sin against God who sees what you’re saying and doing.
Think of the words of David in Psalm 51:4, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.” These words sound so foreign to even many Christians. We are so programmed by our society to think that nothing could be a sin when it is done by “two consenting adults” who are “not hurting anybody.” Such a thought process completely leaves God out of the picture, as if He didn’t even exist or at least didn’t really matter.