Friday, April 4, 2014

A tale of two traitors

When Jesus was arrested two of his disciples - Peter and Judas Iscariot - were guilty of denying and betraying their Master. Judas' betrayal is obvious, he is incredibly dissatisfied with his Master when a woman lovingly anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Judas argued that the perfume could have been spent on the poor (as if Judas was concerned about the poor) only for Jesus to rebuke him and praise the woman. (Matt. 26)

Peter, on the other hand, was found making bold statements, for example he said he would rather 'die' than betray his Savior. At the hour of reckoning both Peter and Judas abandoned Jesus in every way possible. Judas betrayed his Lord to the religious authority for thirty pieces of silver. Peter denied the Lord in front of a crowd gathered at the trial. Both had sinned and both cried bitterly over it.

The reactions of these two disciples in relation to their sins are something for a Christian to take note of in his/her life following Jesus. At times we end up committing a grave sin against our fellow man or God, and we think that the Lord is unforgiving and vengeful towards us for it. A look at this episode of Peter and Judas tells us something different from what our carnal mind so often conceives about God.

Judas was disgusted with himself, 'I betrayed innocent blood' he said. He tries to return the 'blood money' to the Pharisees and runs away. Here, he is tormented with guilt by Satan and is eventually driven towards suicide. Judas' fate reminds us why we are wrong to judge God's forgiveness as limited in its reach and select to only a few. In the end it was Judas himself who was unforgiving rather than God.

Peter was equally upset over his denial but he still hung out with the other apostles. He waited and waited, and when he heard of Jesus' resurrection he literally ran into the empty tomb. The ever impulsive Peter still had a glimmer of hope inside him that Christ was ready to forgive. And how right he was! Peter jumped from his boat and into the water, he swam to the shore to reach where his friend - the Lord Jesus - stood. (John 21:7)

God, as revealed by his Son Jesus, is ever patient in his forgiveness. When Jesus and Simon Peter were reconciled the two had this interesting conversation with each other.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 NIV)