Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Difference Between Apostate and Apostle

In Matthew 26:17-35 we see the respective stories of Judas and Peter before Jesus' crucifixion. In v.21 Jesus prophesies that one of the twelve will betray him and "they were very sorrowful," each asking "Is it I?"

Jesus responds: "The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!" (v.24). Judas then asks if it is he, and Jesus affirms that he has spoken truly. Jesus' betrayal had been planned and predicted by God, yet Judas will be woefully guilty and "it would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

Then in v.31 we see Jesus tell the disciples that they will all fall away. Peter swears he will die before he betrays his Lord (and all the disciples said the same). We all know what happened.

I see very little intrinsic difference between Judas and Peter. Judas betrayed Jesus. Peter denied him at his hour of greatest need. The heart of each man was inclined to deny the one whom they had forsaken all to follow. It's a single, obvious and awful difference between the two: sovereign grace. Judas went his own way, fully culpable. But God granted that Peter would return and feed the flock of Christ.

Honestly, this terrifies me, knowing that (apart from God's gracious action) my heart would fall so quickly and deeply and fully into sin. Myself, I am Judas. Only the Lord draws me, like Peter, back to himself. Hold me there, gracious Lord!

1 comment:

Ben said...

Upon reflection, I have noticed a difference between the two (for what it's worth). Peter struggled to follow Christ, valued Christ, chose Christ, and believed He was the Son of God; in a moment of weakness, he denied Him. Judas had long been a traitor, and planned in advance to betray Jesus. I see that as being pretty huge ... notice also the response of Judas: even in His remorse he doesn't seem to believe Jesus is the Son of God, but is merely sorry that he has betrayed an innocent man. I would say that there is a dramatic difference in faith between the two of them. Whether that makes any difference, I don't know.