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Last week we talked about how our testimony can impact someone else’s faith journey. This week, I want to focus more inward. We asked the question of who you want to model your life after; Jesus, Judas or Peter, and today we are going to explore that question a little deeper.
Many of the people who followed Jesus into Jerusalem thought He had come to save them from the Romans. Unfortunately once they began to realize He was not there for this, they began turning on Him. As soon as they felt He wasn’t there to help them with what they saw as their most important and immediate needs, they bailed on Him and His divine mission.
Before the Last Supper Judas went to the Pharisees and agreed to betray Jesus, after which Satan entered him. Judas chased after wealth by stealing from the ministry money while following Jesus, by betraying Jesus for money, and being greedy along the way. Judas started with petty crimes, even while following Christ, then over time they progressed to bigger sins, until he had spiraled so far that he allowed Satan to overtake him. After betraying Jesus he realized he had made a great mistake and tried to undo what he’d done by giving the money back to the Pharisees, and then went and hung himself instead of asking forgiveness.
When Jesus was about to be killed, Peter was caught up in the crowd, watching Jesus get beaten. People recognized Peter as one of Jesus’s friends and followers but because Peter was scared and did not want to have the same fate as Jesus, Peter denied even knowing Jesus not once but 3 times.
After the rooster crowed, Peter realized what He’d done and wept. When Jesus rose again, Peter was among the remaining 11 disciples that met Jesus in Galilee and worshiped him. Peter returned to Jesus even after he had denied him to save himself, knowing he had done wrong.
Jesus was beaten, ridiculed, hated and judged along the way to Golgotha, and as He hung nailed to the cross he asked God to forgive all of the people who had hurt Him, accused Him, turned away from Him, and killed Him. He begged forgiveness for them and then He died for those very same people so that they, and all who came after, could forever be saved from their sinful nature, and forgiven for denying, betraying, killing and walking away from Him.
Despite the crowds and even His disciples turning on Him, Jesus still chose to go to the cross for them – and for us. He knew what was going to happen then and in the future, that people would still reject, deny, and turn away from Him for generations to come.
Even though we reject Him when He doesn’t answer us in the ways we want or expect; even though we turn our back on His plan because it gets tough or scary; even though we put fame, wealth, popularity, and common culture before Him He still paid with His life to save us in a way we never knew we needed saving.
Even though He knew what was ahead He did it anyway so that we could have a relationship with God, be saved from our old selves, and be given the gift of New Life through that relationship, which is only available because He paid the price for us.
Even though we mess up, miss the mark, give up, walk away, reject and deny Him we are still able to do as Peter did and come back to Christ. Don’t lose hope. You are never too far gone. You are not a lost cause. You have never messed up so badly you can’t turn back or bring your mistakes to Him. That is what He died for – so that we could all run back to God, confess our sins, and find an eternal relationship full of love, hope, and forgiveness.
‘When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver 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.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. ‘Matthew 27:3-5
‘Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.” But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said. A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” “Man, I am not!” Peter replied. About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.” Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. ‘Luke 22:54-60
‘They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. ‘Luke 22:3-6
‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ‘Jeremiah 29:11