Read through the Gospels in a Year: Matthew 27:1-10
Read the New Testament in a Year: Romans 12:1-8
Two of Jesus’ closest friends let him down badly. Sadly, we will all let Jesus down at points in our lives. These two examples help us learn how we should respond to such failures and disappointments.
There are many similarities between Judas and Peter. Both were disciples of Jesus. Both were told they would let him down (vv.24–25,34). Both fulfilled Old Testament prophecies through their actions (26:31; 27:9). Both deeply regret their actions (27:5; 26:75).
Yet there are also crucial differences between the two men. Peter responded to failure in the right way. Judas did not. As Paul writes, ‘Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death’ (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Judas is an example of ‘worldly sorrow’. He went to the religious leaders and confessed his sin, but they just weighed him down with more guilt (Matthew 27.4). He was seized with remorse but sadly he was not able to throw himself on God’s mercy and receive his forgiveness.
On the other hand, Peter is an example of ‘godly sorrow’. Peter must have been so frightened to deny and disown Jesus three times. Perhaps, understandably, he feared being crucified with Jesus or perhaps he had doubts before this about whether Jesus really was who he claimed to be. But the cock crowing must have removed all his doubts. It left him feeling distraught: ‘He went outside and wept bitterly’ (26:75). There is no more terrible feeling than the knowledge that we have let Jesus down. Thankfully, this is not the end of the story for Peter (see John 21). ‘Godly sorrow’ brought ‘repentance’, and his relationship with Jesus was restored. He was freed from his guilt and shame, and went on to become a great, holy, powerful and anointed leader of Jesus’ church.
You do not need to go around weighed down by guilt or shame about past sins and mistakes. Those whom Jesus sets free are free indeed (John 8:36). However much you have messed up and failed it is never too late. Respond as Peter did and you can have a great future ahead of you in the service of Jesus.
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