The Villain and the Coward

Today’s reading Luke 22:47-62, Exodus 39

As we count down to Easter the passage from Luke today documents two stories featuring two of Jesus disciples.

The Villain

The first story (47-53) tells of Jesus betrayal by Judas.

Judas, like the other 11 disciples, had been with Jesus from the beginning. He had seen the blind given sight and the dead raised to life. He had seen Jesus compassion for the downtrodden and the forgiveness and mercy he demonstrated to his detractors. He knew the “ins” and “outs” of what it was like to live with Jesus – he had seen Jesus tired and short of time and under pressure – and yet never sin through it all.

And yet, he made the decision to betray him. Conscious, deliberate, betrayal.

The Coward

The second story tells of the denial of Jesus by Peter (54-62).

Despite Peter’s bold claim that he would never betray Jesus just a few days earlier here we read that Peter denied Jesus 3 times in a few short hours. Peter too had lived with Jesus for 3 years. He had walked on water into Jesus waiting arms. His mother in law had been healed by Jesus. He had collected the excess loaves of bread and fishes when Jesus fed the 5000 – and again with the 4000!

Any yet, Peter denied knowing Jesus for fear of a servant girl!

What about me?

It is so easy to look down our 21st century noses and scoff at Judas and Peter. However, perhaps a more realistic assessment of their stories (and ours) is more helpful – and more appropriate this Easter time.

Perhaps we should look on these two men and realise that we too are weak, silly, error-prone, broken people who could fall just as easily.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

This Easter time let’s remind ourselves that Christ died for sinners – sinners like deceitful Judas and cowardly Peter. Sinners like the woman caught in adultery and Zacchaeus the lonely and greedy tax collector. Sinners like Saul who persecuted the church and King David who murdered an innocent honourable man to cover up his adultery.

Sinners like me, in my weakness and pride and inconsistency.

Rejection or Repentance

After his betrayal Judas was filled shame and hopelessness leading to his suicide. Peter’s response was remorse and repentance leading to forgiveness and restoration.

This Easter let’s emulate Peter and humbly bow at the feet of Jesus, confess our failings, acknowledge our neediness, accept his forgiveness, surrender to His Lordship and marvel at his patience. As Peter wrote many years after the events of Luke 22:

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate;

When he suffered, he made no threats.

Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;

“by his wounds you have been healed.”

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

1 Peter 2:23-25 

Praise God Jesus died for fatally flawed sinners like Peter – both the 1st Century Peter in Palestine, and the 21st century guy in Figtree.

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One thought on “The Villain and the Coward

  1. Thank you Peter. Denying Christ is a reality today too it just has a bit of a different look to it. Last Sunday at Fuse being Palm Sunday our last song was HOSANNAH. There were some beautiful large palm branches out the front of the stage. The Holy Spirit prompted me to go and get one and wave it in the air as we were singing that song. Just like in the bible story. I didn’t do it. I was so upset with myself on the way home I promised that next time He prompted me I wouldn’t deny Him. I was too concerned what others may have thought and I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself. But I’m still sorry today that I didn’t do it. Today at the airport I had a chance to follow thru with His prompting. This time I just obeyed and both my daughter and husband witnessed Christian love in action. God is the God of second chances I like that!!

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