I think that most of us at one time or another in our Christian life have tried to inject ourselves into Biblical accounts. Have we not all imagined holding up our staff and watching the Red Sea part or slinging our stone into the forehead of Goliath? Of course those are incredible incidents which would today result in a deafening roar from the crowded stadium as 100,000 people rooted on their champion.
But, what about the "not so grandeur" times in the Bible? What about if we were one of Joseph's brothers, would we have done anything different than they did in Genesis? What about someone like Gideon, who did incredible exploits for the Lord, but it took many fleeces and much patience on the Lord's part to see him reach the point of faith. What about King David and his succumbing to the allures of Bathsheba? Just how many men in a similar position of authority would not have tried to figure out a way to "partake of the pleasures seen with the eyes?"
It is very easy to envision being a hero but it is much more difficult to accept that in most cases, we would have failed just as those mentioned in the Bible failed when confronted by temptation, fear or self depreciation. The most universally condemned man and woman who ever lived were Adam and Eve, yet I imagine most of us would have done the same they did if in the same situation. Instead of crying "how could they", we should humbly say "there but by the grace of God am I".
In continuing to read the Pulitzer Award winning and soon to be released as a major motion picture work by "alight", I am constantly finding myself in the shoes of various people mentioned in the stirring account of our Lord's last day. I have always believed that part of the reason God saw fit to include details regarding both Peter and Judas is that they represent the two basic ways people respond to sin in their lives.
In both men's cases, Jesus had forewarned them of what was coming. Jesus had squarely looked Peter in the eyes and told him that he would deny Him three times. Jesus had also told the twelve that one of them would betray Him and in fact designated it would be Judas at the "last supper". Both men did exactly as Jesus said they would do. Both men committed equally grievous sins and both men honestly felt bad in their hearts that they had done what they did.
Judas did indeed suffer from "buyer's remorse" and tried to return the silver and get the Sanhedrin to release Jesus. They were not the least bit interested. In his frustration, and being driven by demons, the Bible says that "Judas went out, and it was night". Judas was trapped in the darkest night of his soul. He hated what he had done, but saw no way to rectify the situation. Out of desperation, depression and utter condemnation he hung himself. I don't know about you, but I can think of plenty of times in my life that I did the exact same thing spiritually.
Peter, when he recognized what he had done, "went out and wept bitterly". Peter did more than just "feel badly" for what he had done. It ripped his very heart out. Due to Peter's great love for his Lord, he could not believe he had denied Him not once, but three times. Alone and broken, Peter truly repented and not lived to tell about it, but became the leader of the church a few days later.
We could all say that we would never dream of doing what either Judas or Peter did, but in an identical situation; who could really say for sure. People who sell out their loyalty to another for fame or fortune are blinded by ambition and the allure of riches. Judas was not the first to fall for this trick of the enemy, and he certainly was not the last. Friends who disappear when needed most are as common as ants on a picnic table in the summer. Peter was not the first man to hightail it and run for the hills when confronted with either standing with his friend/Master Jesus-just the most famous.
As we continue to "role play" different characters in the Bible, I believe it behooves us to be a little less judgmental and critical and a little more understanding and empathetic. Literally, God only knows what any of us would have done in the same situations as those we read about when we open the pages of God's Word. As much as we want to believe we would always take the high road and do what was right, honorable and mighty; there is a very real possibility we would have done exactly as those we condemn and criticize did. Perhaps that is why God put their accounts in His Word.
Thank you for a very insightful reminder for empathy for those who have fallen.
I am reminded that we have
Thank God for His Word that covers all that we need for living - including pitfalls to avoid.
May the Lord help us in our treacherous journey from earth to heaven.
I absolutely agree these accounts are here for our learning! I've often thought about the two different ways Peter and Judas responded. Judas threw himself at the feet of men looking to be absolved. Peter ends up throwing himself at the feet of Jesus, the One who truly can make all things new! Even though we may deny him, God's love for us cannot be destroyed and He is standing by with outstretched arms, waiting to embrace us!