I was reading last night in Luke about the times before Jesus' death, and a few items hit me.
The title of the beginning of chapter 22 is "Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus." Right when I read that, I thought, "How can someone choose to betray God?"
Then it hit me - I choose to betray God regularly.
Not choose to kill, but make death worse and died because of our sins. A definition of betrayal can be to fail someone, and I know that my sins are signs of my failing God. Some I don't mean to do, and that is not really betrayal, but some sins I knowingly commit, and that is definitely betraying my God.
Then, I thought about how my sins still aren't deciding to kill Jesus. However, Jesus only died to forgive our sins. He would have died to save one of us, and my sins really did send Jesus to his death.
I didn't hang around with Jesus and then decide to kill him at least. Yet, when contemplating that, I also could have a close relationship with God. I could be his best friend. He is there in everything I do, yet sometimes I purposefully go against him. I betray him just like Judas.
Although Judas seems like the worst kind of person, he was influenced by Satan and did something stupid. He obviously regretted it later as he threw his reward away. Really, as I look on the situation, I finally realized that I am no better than the man that helped to kill the Son of God.
Then the next section in the chapter is about the last supper. In verses 31-32, Jesus says to Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And WHEN (caps added) you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."
Wait, Jesus prayed that Simons faith won't fail, and in the next sentence he tells Peter that his faith will fail?
I find it amazing that Jesus says that so calmly. He knows Peter is going to deny even knowing him, but he doesn't get angry or bitter, he just accepts it. He knows Peter is going to stumble and fall, but he also knows that he has a job to do after that.
I think this statement is a huge statement of redemption. Many people focus on the story when Peter actually does the denying of Jesus. I love this section that shows that you can do something terrible, but yet you can still be redeemed and help others in their lives.
Judas, Peter - These are two people who were closest to Jesus during his ministry. Yet, they made terrible mistakes, one which led to Jesus' death.
I often think I am better than people who make bad decisions. I used to judge people very harshly. In high school, I set myself above a lot of people and said I would never do what they did.
However, I have learned not to judge, because even if you think you are strong in that area now, you have no idea what you will struggle with in the future. Looking back on what I judged people harshly for, I have done pretty much all of those things.
Even as we read about the decisions Judas and Peter make, I have to really stop and realize that I am not better than them either. If you look closely, you might realize that you are more alike than you ever wanted to be.