Mark: According to
A Side Bar
Peter and Judas
Matthew 27:3-5; “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ And they said, ‘what is that to us? You see to it!’ Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself.”
Matthew 26:74, 75; “Then he began to curse and swear, saying. ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly.”
Before we continue with our study of Mark I felt impressed to write this post on the contrast between Peter and Judas. So I have titled it: Peter and Judas: A Side Bar. Both seemed to be remorseful for there sin, yet Judas hung himself while Peter wept bitterly, why the difference?
I grew up in a Christian home and attended Christian schools through the end of my senior year of high school. For High School, my parents decided to send me to a boarding academy, which was located about 120 miles from our house. So I had to live in a dorm with 90 other boys for all four years of High School.
My Senior year, I entered school already being 18 years old, and in fact I was the oldest member of our class. Each year early in October there would be the annual Home Coming or Alumni weekend, in which hundreds of former students would come back to the school for the weekend. Having previously experienced three such weekends, I was really not looking forward to this alumni weekend. They were boring as you see all these groups of former students sitting around swapping stories of their time at good old Maplewood Academy.
Living on campus there were restrictions as to when you could or could not leave campus and how you were to leave campus to go into town. Town wasn’t all that far away, for it was about a half to three quarters of a mile down the hill from the academy.
Six of us were sitting in Steve’s dorm room lamenting the fact that it was Saturday night and we were stuck on campus with nothing to do until the basketball game that would take place at about 10 pm but none of us were great basketball fans. Steve’s roommate from the year before had graduated that past spring and so was back on campus and stopped in to see Steve and the rest of us that hung around together.
Ted being a new alumnus had a car, and the freedom to come and go from campus as he chose, which caused us remaining students to feel even more like prisoners. What seemed to make matters worse in my mind is that when I was off campus, being 18, I was treated as an adult, but on campus, I felt like I was being treated like any old snot nosed freshmen. So we decided that we would go into town and since Ted was there, he offered to drive us to the local pizza joint and bowling alley.
Mr. Tappan was the Boys Dean and he was retirement age, in fact it was to be his last year as boy’s dean for he was retiring at the end of the school year. Mr. Tappan loved to ride bicycle and you would see him all over campus and even down town riding his bicycle. Everywhere he went, he rode his bike even in the middle of a Minnesota winter when it was 30 below, you could find him downtown riding his bicycle.
We reasoned among ourselves that with all that happens on Alumni weekend it would be too much for him to keep tabs on us, so figured we were safe to be out and about town, eating pizza and bowling and just having a nice time. But sure enough, as I waited my turn to bowl, I felt a tap on the shoulder and here was Mr. Tappan, looking sternly at all of us and telling us in no uncertain terms to get back on campus. Then, when he realized how we had gotten off campus he was really unhappy. Here we are all loading back into Ted’s car and Mr. Tappan is pedaling his way back on Campus. Talk about humiliating, to be found downtown by an old man riding bicycle. When we were back on campus we got a stern lecture from Mr. Tappan, not all at the same time, no it was six different lectures, one for each of us.
On Monday morning the following sentence was handed down by Administrative Council. For the next two weeks, we six were dorm bound which is the equivalent to house arrest. Meaning we could attend classes, get our meals at the cafeteria, but if not eating or in class, then we were confined to our dorm room and oh by the way, no TV either.
There was one other aspect of our punishment as well. We were required to write a letter home to our parents explaining what we had done and the punishment we received.
Mr. Tappan watched as we each wrote our letters and then placed them in envelopes for us and made sure they got off in the morning mail.
Tuesday was uneventful for I knew my parents would not have gotten the letter yet, but by Wednesday they would, which would mean I would be receiving a call from my father that evening and sure enough at 8 pm sharp a message came over the speaker system that I had a phone call in the lobby.
The conversation went something like this. “Hi, Dad, great hearing from you, how are you and mom doing?”
“Son, I got your letter, I made arrangements with the school, I will be picking you up Friday late afternoon and you are coming home for the weekend, we need to talk. I’ll see you then, bye!”
I was expecting my parents to be upset, but I really had not expected this response and so was now quite worried. Dad was never that short or abrupt, he must really be upset and disappointed.
Friday late afternoon dad picked me up, it was just before sunset and as I got in the car, I asked: “So, what did you want to talk to me about.” His response caused even more alarm for he said; “Its nearly sunset we will discuss this after the Sabbath.”
Needless to say, Sabbath was rather tense in our house. Mom was not her usual self and dad was quiet and withdrawn. I on the other hand was trying to figure out a way to get out of the house and spend some time with friends in my home town with the idea of avoiding the conversation, but soon found that the dorm bound rules of school seemed to cover home as well.
Saturday evening as the conversation unfolded, my father tried to determine what I was thinking in leaving school without permission and catching a ride with a former student, who they did not even know.
Finally after several attempts to explain my position and failing each time, I blurted out, “I am truly sorry dad, I really am, I am sorry we got caught off campus.”
“Well son, I am glad you are sorry, but what are you sorry for? Are you sorry you got caught or are you sorry you broke the law?” You cannot be sorry on both accounts. You are either sorry you got caught, which means you are not truly sorry you went off campus, or you are sorry for breaking the rules in which case getting caught is just part of the incident that happened. So, which is it? Are you sorry you were caught, or are you sorry you broke the rules?”
I responded with, “I’m sorry we got caught. We had fun until Mr. Tappan showed up, but I do know it was wrong to be off campus without permission and for catching a ride to get for pizza and bowling”
“Then son you are not truly sorry for being truly sorry, you would repent because of the rules you broke and not that you got caught.”
Thank about that a moment, if you are truly sorry, you would repent for the act, and not the fact that you got caught.
Judas the twelfth disciple had accepted 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Not because he thought Jesus was guilty of a crime, but because Judas desired a high position in Christ’s kingdom. As we have discussed in the past, the disciples, the religious leaders and the people all misunderstood Christ’s true reason for being on earth. They expected the Messiah to be a conquering hero, with the ability to feed and heal armies which would allow the Jewish people to again become a nation of importance. They hoped to sit upon David’s throne a true king, a true descendant of David instead of this imposter Herod that sat upon the throne.
Judas was indeed disappointed that Jesus had not yet attempted to set up His kingdom and so at the feast in which Simon gave in Christ’s honor, Judas determined that he would force Jesus’ hand. If Jesus would not stand up for himself, then let’s betray Him into the hands of the priests and elders, which would force Jesus to have to take a stand and set up His kingdom. Judas reward for this action would not be the 30 pieces of silver that he collected from the priests, but a high position in Jesus’ kingdom.
But Judas was dumbfounded when Jesus was arrested and led away as a common criminal. He was beside himself as the priests and the elders falsely accused Jesus of all these different things. He could not believe that Jesus did not attempt to rescue himself or speak up on His own behalf. Judas saw that his carefully crafted plans were for not, and for this he was remorseful. He was sorry, that his plan to exalt himself through forcing Jesus to declare himself king had failed. Yes he recognized that Jesus was innocent, but that was secondary to the fact that his own selfish desires had come for not.
Peter, poor Peter, looked upon the arrest and the proceedings before the Sanhedrin with bewilderment. For all his talk and bravado, when he needed his faith the most, it failed. His relationship with Christ was superficial. It was not deeply rooted, and thus when pressed by circumstances, he tried to rely upon self instead of allowing his faith to see him through. He attempted to blend into his surroundings by becoming one like those around. But a Christian, even a superficial Christian can be spotted in almost any crowd. Peter was afraid, alone, and when pressed he failed and denied ever having known Jesus. When that rooster crowed for the second time and Peter had denied his Lord for the third, he saw in the eyes of Jesus, love and compassion. He did not condemn Peter, but Peter saw the look of love and pity in Jesus eyes.
This broke the heart of Peter and Peter instantly was sorry for what he had done and his lack of faith. Bitterly he wept tears and ran from the place and fell upon the ground and poured his soul out to God. Peter was sorry for his actions, he was sorry he had caused his Lord such hurt and that he himself had been the reason for Jesus look of hurt. Peter began to realize what Jesus true mission on earth was and began to see how he himself had failed to listen and understand. He began to see how his character was flawed and prayed that God could take control of his life and cleanse him from this sin and all his sins.
My Father attempted to teach me this lesson my senior year in school that there are two forms of repentance. Sorry for being caught and sorry for actually having broken the rules. Judas was sorry that his plan had not worked. His plan was for personal gain and for that he was sorry his plan failed to gain him the fame that he desired. If Jesus was not going to defend himself, then, well he deserved what he got. But Judas was not sorry for the act, but that his plan had failed.
Peter was sorry for the act of denying Jesus. He saw the look of compassion and pity in the Savior’s eyes and instantly recognized his need for forgiveness and to be changed. His prayer in the garden that evening reflected the fact that his repentance was heart felt. Peter recognized his sin and asked forgiveness for his sin and recognized his need for a changed heart. Peter was remorseful for the act and not that he had gotten caught.
Each day you and I do many things we should not do. When we realize what we have done, will we respond like Judas and seek forgiveness because we were caught, or that carefully laid plans failed, or will we respond as Peter who asked for forgiveness for the act he had committed, not because he was caught, but because he was truly sorry.
David when he was repenting from his great act of disgrace penned these words as a prayer to God. “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and Uphold me by your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and Sinners shall be converted to you.” Psalm 51:10-13
Christ offers forgiveness, but the forgiveness is dependent upon the reason we seek forgiveness. Is it because we are sorry we got caught or are we sorry for the act itself. The choice is ours, and He is waiting to hear from us.
My dad made a profound impact on me when he really pressed me for the reason I was sorry. At the time I was sorry I had gotten caught. With age, I became sorry I had broken the rules and in so doing broken the trust that had been built up between Mr. Tappan and myself.
Peter was sorry not because of personal gain that was lost but because he truly understood how he had failed and hurt the relationship between him and his Lord. But Jesus still loved Peter and still desired a relationship with Peter and he still loves you and me and continues to desire a relationship with each of us. So like Peter, Let us confess our sins, not because we were caught but because we desire a better relationship with Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith. Amen