Peter in Heaven
and Judas in Hell
Both Peter and Judas committed the same sin. They both denied
their Lord and Master.
But why did one go to heaven, and one go to hell?
The Gospel writer Matthew is careful to compare and contrast the fall
of Peter and Judas. Both men failed badly. The fall of Peter was temporary, while the fall
of Judas was permanent. One is in heaven, and the other is in hell.
Both men confessed their sin and failure, but only one repented and
put his faith in Christ.
Somewhere in Judas life, he took an evil turn that eventually
resulted in rejection of Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior and eventual suicide. One bad
attitude toward Jesus led to another, and a pattern of rejection and bitterness must have
led to the ultimate rejection of Jesus.
In fact, it was prophesied in the Old Testament that a person close
to Jesus would lift up his heel against Him (Psa. 41:9; Jn. 13:18; Acts 1:16). He was
appointed to this end from the beginning (Jn. 17:12).
After Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a
common slave (Zech. 11:12; Matt. 26:14-16), he purchased a field with the money (Acts
1:18-19). When the good opportunity came, he acted on his evil intent and
delivered Jesus to the Jewish authorities in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:46-50).
After it happened he felt a sense of remorse realizing what he had done, and declared to
the religious leaders that Jesus was innocent (27:1-5). Judas tried to atone for his own
sins and failed. Then he went to the field and hanged himself.
Judas betrayed Jesus because he did not love Him. He only cared about
himself and his personal agendas (John 12:6).
Judas confessed his sin without repentance. There was no radical
change in his mind that resulted in a change from spiritual death to spiritual life
through faith in Jesus Christ. True repentance would have turned him to Jesus for
On the other hand, there is Peter who had also been with Jesus, and
likewise fell. We will too if we do not learn his lesson in Luke 22:31-32. Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for
you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen
Peter loved the Lord Jesus. He tried to defend Jesus in the garden
when the soldiers arrived (Matt. 26:50-54). In fact, Peter failed because he was in a
situation that he would not have been in if he had not loved Jesus. What happened to Peter
still happens to the strongest of Christians today.
Peter did not believe Jesus warnings (v. 31; Zech. 13:7).
This very night you will all fall away on account of Me. Very emphatically,
over confident Peter contested, I will never fall away (v. 33). Jesus repeated
the warnings in even stronger terms, Truly I say to you that this very night, before
a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times (v. 34). Peter got arrogant saying to
Him, Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You. All the disciples
said the same thing too (v. 35).
Peter knew the same thing you and I know. Jesus is never wrong,
never confused, never mistaken. Peter thought he knew better than Jesus! If we
expect to win in the spiritual warfare we had better determine early on in the Christian
life to trust Jesus in everything and not explain away His Word. Peter fell that night
with the slightest provocation when a servant girl tripped him up (Matt. 26:58, 69-75).
Perhaps it would have been different if Peter had remained in the
company of his compassion and Christian brother, John.
Peter responded with increasingly strong denials to the questions of
bystanders in the courtyard of the high priest. His denials were even filled with cursings
and oaths before it was over (Matt. 26:70-74).
At the moment, Peter denied Jesus the third time a rooster crowed,
and Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter (Lk. 22:61). Peter realized what
he had done and rushed out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75; Mk. 14:72; Lk. 22:62).
Peter learned the lesson that Jesus is able to save completely
those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them
It is easy for us to point our fingers at Peter and
Judas, but what about own own denials of Christ in the workplace,
school, public arena, etc.? What about when he bids us come and follow
Him and we halt, or go in another direction? He invites us to join Him
in what He is doing but we don't step out by faith and follow.
God does not compare us to Peter or Judas, but to
His Son who was obedient even unto death. We all fall short of His
There is only one person who can make atonement for our sins, and
that is Jesus Christ. Only His shed blood will make atonement for our sins and free us
from our guilt. There is no hope for us if the blood of Jesus Christ does not wash us of
all our sins. In the death of Jesus there is salvation for all who will call upon His
name. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ.
Judas turned his back on Jesus who was his only hope.
Peter repented and turned to Jesus and found hope.
We do well to heed the words of Peter and learn from his experience.
Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and
choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in
this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be
abundantly supplied to you (2 Peter 1:12-11).
Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006
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