Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Legacy of the Repentant Heart

"Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him." 

In all three places where the twelve apostles were introduced (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), it's there... Judas the traitor... Judas the betrayer. What an legacy, Judas! Curious... why weren't the "mistakes" or downfalls of all of the disciples listed? None of them were perfect, they were all imperfect people, sinners, just like you and me, right? Why only Judas? Did Peter not also betray Jesus? 

We all know the basic life story of Judas and Peter, but have you ever considered the similarities? Here's a brief rundown of both:

Judas was the group treasurer. Obviously, the disciples didn't expect him to be a greedy enough to sell someone, Jesus of all people, for money, or he wouldn't have been in his respectable position within the group. Jesus not only knew (because he's God - hello!), that he would sell him out, He even told Judas ahead of time that he would - and yet Judas STILL did it. Right before Judas sold him out, knowing what would happen, Jesus still called him "friend." (Is it hard for anyone else to wrap their measly human mind around the way God is love despite knowing every single unsightly thing about us?) Judas, when he saw the consequences of his actions, regretted his actions and returned to the religious leaders claiming Jesus' innocence, throwing the money he was paid for selling Jesus out down. Judas' regret and sorrow resulted in isolation and despair, and ultimately, he killed himself.

Peter was one of the three closest friends Jesus had, and along with James and John, spent more time alone really getting to know Him than the other disciples. Peter certainly wasn't perfect, he seemed to struggle with fear, doubt, and faith - letting God truly be in control. It seems like he got into trouble a lot for saying things without thinking... or only thinking from a "this world" perspective instead of a eternal perspective. Jesus, as with Judas, knew Peter would deny knowing him, and told Peter just as he did Judas. Peter, of course, spouted off that he would never do that... but, he did. Peter knew and truly loved Jesus more than just about anyone! Peter, when he realized what he had done, went and wept bitterly.  It says that after the third time he denied Him, the rooster crowed and he suddenly remembered what Jesus had told him... after the third denial. It was his wake up call. His moment to decide how to respond to such ugliness and shame. It's not like he woke up that day and decided he was going to claim he didn't know Jesus, right? Hello - he even had a warning about it! How did he get to a place where it was comfortable to deny the one that he first recognized as the Messiah? Regardless of how or why, it's what he did afterwards that makes him different from Judas. Peters sorrow didn't stop at regret like Judas'. He seized the opportunity to make a complete one-eighty and became one of the most prominent spokespersons and leaders for Jesus Christ, loyal until his execution. 

They both did what we would humanly consider "big" sins... I mean, come on...  betrayal against the living and breathing Jesus Christ! Judas was clearly full of remorse, but he wasn't repentant. I believe with all my being that he would have been forgiven and his legacy changed had his heart been repentant. Peter was sorrowful, but also repentant. 

I love how this scripture allows me to visualize the redemption of a repentant heart :

"Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets."

Peter's heart changed the direction of his life. It took his ugly, shameful sin, and turned him one hundred eighty degrees back towards Jesus and he never looked back. Judas, as we know, ended up in the "deathbed of regrets." 

Maybe you, like me, have pulled a Peter or a Judas. Me? Guilty as charged. What I can tell you, is that in my darkest and ugliest moments, Jesus never defined me by my sins. He saw ME that day He hung on a cross, wallowing in the throes of my sins, shame and guilt and said, "She is worth it." You? You're worth it too. We're all part of the 100%; sinners, covered by His precious blood (Matthew 26:28). Regardless of how scandalous, disgusting and vile a past may be, Jesus can restore what Satan intended to destroy, and use it for His good (Romans 8:28-30). He's already paid the price to, like Peter, change our legacy and erase the sins from our otherwise Judas-esque introductions, all we have to do is give it all to Him. 

"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
-1 John 1:9 (NLT)

1 comment:

  1. Great blog and interesting perspective. When I have screwed up, I always go back to the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well. His last words were "I do not condemn you, go and sin no more." If you notice he did not say "if you go and sin no more I won't condemn you." We are human and we will screw up, but God sees us pure and forgiven because of what Jesus did on the cross. The key is if we focus on what he DID for us, and not on what we DO (both positive and negative), we stop thinking with a sin conscience and can live in the freedom he had in mind. My key is if I stop putting my focus on sin, I don't worry about what I need to be forgiven of. He has already forgiven me and I want to spend my life telling others of how he has redeemed me. --Nicki Walker