We have recently discussed that sometimes things happen to us in life, not in response to our sinfulness, but just because we live in a fallen world. Another aspect of this is how we respond to these negative situations. Sometimes the only thing we can control is our response to circumstances that we encounter.
There is a perfect example of this in the gospel accounts between Judas and Peter. Both of these men had hardship in their life, but they dealt with them in completely different ways. Judas is most well known for betraying Jesus to the Jews. “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him” (Matthew 26:14-16). One interesting thing about this is that thirty pieces of silver was supposedly the price to buy a common slave. Could it be that Judas was looking to make a little extra money while he knew that Jesus would not be taken? We may never know his true reasoning or motive, but we do know how it ends. “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!” Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5).
In contrast to that, Peter also made mistakes. One of the most important was denying his association with Jesus at His trial. Matthew 26:34-35, “Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.”
This came to pass in Matthew 26:69-75, “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a 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.”
In both accounts there was a close disciple of Jesus making a mistake. At the end of the day, they could only do so much to control what happened after that mistake. The only thing that they could control was their reaction to their failure. One gave up, and the other repented and sought redemption. The same can be said of our lives. We are going to make mistakes from time to time, but how we respond after our fall makes all the difference. Let us keep our hearts soft and not be discouraged to give up.