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Two Hearts - Two Destinies

"Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that he had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, 'I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.' And they said, 'What is that to us? You see to it!'” Matthew 27:3-4 When Judas saw Jesus standing there condemned, he realized he had made a terrible mistake and regretted it. So he returned the money he had been paid to betray Jesus, but the priests and elders weren't interested. So he went out and committed suicide. vs 5: "Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the Temple and departed, and went and hanged himself." Earlier in this story, recorded in Matthew 26, we see Peter who denied Jesus three times! When he heard the rooster crow, the words of Jesus came back to him, in which Jesus had told him he was going to deny him three times before the rooster crowed. "And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.' So he went out and wept bitterly." Matthew 26:75 What is the difference between these two men? They both denied Jesus. The difference is in the heart. They both sinned a grievous sin, and one was not worse than the other. But more telling is what they did with it. Judas could have been forgiven, but instead he committed suicide. Peter, cut to the heart for what he had done, wept bitterly. Suicide is regret weighed down with despair. Weeping bitterly over sin is repentance. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." 2nd Corinthians 7:10 We are all sinners, every one of us, and it's not a matter of the kind of sin or the degree of sin. A person who has not been born again will treat his sin much differently than one who has been. Judas had witnessed the miracles Jesus did over the past 3-1/2 years, and he saw Jesus escape every attempt by Satan to kill him before his time. So Judas thought that if Jesus was seized by the leaders of the people, that Jesus would fight and overpower them, put down the Roman government, and restore the Kingdom to Israel. When Judas saw that his plot had failed, and when he realized the greatness of his sin, he killed himself. Peter, on the other hand, LOVED Jesus. Throughout the Gospels we see Peter again and again acting from a deep love for him. When he realized his sin, the regret hit him in the heart. How could he have done this to someone he loved so much, the one he knew is the Messiah? He heaved great sobs of shame and regret. A repentant heart leads to godly sorrow, not to killing oneself. Judas removed himself from all possibility of forgiveness, but Peter later received the great forgiveness the Lord extended to him. Later, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he had a little conversation with Peter: "So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?' He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” John 21:15 Jesus asked this question three times, and by the third time Peter was humbled in sorrow and grief. vs 17: "Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, 'Do you love me?' And he said to him, 'Lord, you know all things, you KNOW that I love you!'” And that's the point. Throughout the narrative there was no question whether Peter loved the Lord. A weak human being as we all are, he had cowered in fear when the crowd took hold of Jesus to condemn him. Yet the sorrow Peter had was godly sorrow. That was true repentance and he was forgiven. Friend, it doesn't matter what evil you have committed, the degree of sinfulness is irrelevant to the point being made here. What matters is what you do with it. If you humble yourself before the Lord, he will hold out to you the hand of mercy. He loves you and is waiting with forgiveness for you. He will receive you. Come before him, confess your sin, all of it. Humble yourself before him and know the depths of his mercy and forgiveness. He will wash you and make you clean. And you will be clean! "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, AND HE WILL LIFT YOU UP." James 4:10


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