The similarities between Peter’s story and Judas Iscariot’s story are striking. Let’s look…
1 my child, pay attention to my wisdom, turn your ear to my words of insight…22 the evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast [Jesus will set them free].
Most people know the story of Peter:
- A fisherman
Many people know the story of Judas Iscariot:
- Keeper of the moneybag
- Dipped into the moneybag occasionally (John 12:6)
- Rebuked Mary for “wasting” expensive perfume
- Took 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus
So far, there’s not much similarity, but here’s where it changes. They both were told that they would fall to weakness: Peter to fear and Judas to greed. Peter denied Christ; Judas betrayed Christ. Lest we get the idea that they are worse than the other disciples, read Matthew 26:56b, which was prophesied also,
56 But this has happened so that the scriptures of the prophets would be fulfilled [see Matthew 26:31].” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Both Peter and Judas had great remorse for their “falling away.” Peter was reinstated by Jesus (John 21:15-17); Judas hanged himself after throwing the money back into the temple (see Matthew 27:3-5).
Most people think that when Jesus said, “It would be better if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21), and that he was “doomed to destruction (John 17:12), that Judas is burning in hell right now. I wonder if there is another option. Consider:
- Judas died before Jesus did;
- Jesus descended into Hades and led a triumphal train out of hell (1 Peter 4:6, Apostles’ Creed, 2 Corinthians 2:14);
- Judas may have been the last person to enter Hades before Christ got there and freed the captives (Isaiah 61:1), which means that he also may have been the first person out of Hades with Christ!
The lesson here is not so much to champion Judas, but to warn against assumptions. We must always read Scripture through the lens of Jesus: Jesus said, “love your enemies,” “forgive seventy times seven;” did He not extend forgiveness to the very soldiers who crucified Him? It’s worth considering.
Abba, I don’t know where Judas is today, but I know You well enough to know that You practice what You preach. I would like to believe that Judas was right on Your heels on the way out of Hades and to Your throne! Thank You for Your wonderful grace that extends to every human being on the planet, past, present and future. Amen.