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The Tale of Two Disciples

My favourite disciple is Peter.  The fact that he was like a bull in a china shop at times, endears him to me.  I’ve felt and acted like that too.  Charging into conversations, situations without thinking, just reacting.  Words popping out of my mouth before I can even think them over.  Saying I’d NEVER….only to find myself caught in the act. So Peter’s my guy.

Judas, on the other hand, is no one’s guy.  No one wants to be associated with him.  Perhaps that’s because we don’t necessarily understand him.  Fear surrounds him. Could we be like him?  He complained when Mary used some expensive perfume to wash Jesus’ feet.  “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?  It was worth a year’s wages.”  He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. (John 12:5-6)

The sad truth is, he could have been Someone’s guy, but he chose to reject and then betray that Someone instead.

The contrast between these two disciples as I’ve been reading through the New Testament with the LentChallenge and studying Beth Moore’s, Jesus The One and Only, bible study, has been jumping out at me.  Let’s look at Judas first.  Judas loved money more than Jesus.  His heart was owned by greed not Jesus.  It was hardened.  In the most literal sense, it was made of the coin that he so greedily lusted after.  Hard, cold, unyielding.  Money was the counterfeit that Satan used to seal the deal to get Jesus.  I think Satan told Judas that money was what he needed to make him happy.  To have it all.  When in reality, the God-man that he kissed on the cheek in an act of meanness none can compete with, was the only One who could give him what he needed.

The hardened heart always leads to death.  Judas is the epitome of death.  The thing that makes it sadder; he didn’t have to be.  He choose it.

Peter, on the other hand, could have gone the same route as Judas.  I mean he didn’t betray Jesus, but he denied knowing him, of being one of the twelve.  It’s almost as bad.  Beth Moore in her study, asks for us to consider some of the encounters Peter had with Jesus that would “ make his denial more startling”.  Think about it.  Think of all those bible stories you may know from Sunday School alone.

Peter, one of the chosen twelve, who witnessed countless miracles.  Who walked beside Jesus and had one-on-one conversations with Him.  He was one of the inner three, chosen to go with Jesus where the other nine were not.  He was one of Jesus’ peeps.  It was that bad.  I don’t imagine the guilt was any less.

The major difference between Peter and Judas is that unlike Judas’ hardened heart, Peter’s was fully owned by Jesus.  He was an authentic follower of the God-man.  His whole entire identity was wrapped up in Jesus.  I like how Beth Moore puts it: “The conflict of his soul surged in a tidal wave of grief, betraying his true identity. His belief had not been a sham. His denial had.”

Peter messed up.  He let fear take it’s hold and squeeze.  He gave in.  He sinned and then he wept.  He repented.  Because his heart was true.  It was beating true to the one who owned it.  The One whom it knew.  When all was said and done, Peter knew Jesus.  He knew repentance and he knew the gospel of forgiveness that he’d been listening to for three years was truth.  In the hour he most needed it, Peter believed it.

Peter’s denial could have ended in death.  But he knew Life itself.  Peter’s journey led to life.  Life more abundantly.  Because I don’t think, Peter would have been the disciple he became if he had not gone through this journey.  He let God do the work in his heart and he came out the other side, more like the One he followed.  It’s a great story of hope for us all.  Nothing is impossible for God.  We can never be too messed up.  He always chooses US.  We just need to choose HIM.

Two disciples.  Two very different endings.  One ending in death.  The other in Life.

(Jesus The One and Only, Beth Moore p. 211.214)