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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 forgiveness.

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 your brothers.”

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” (Heb. 7:25).

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 obedience.

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).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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