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The Betrayals of Judas and Peter

Updated on April 13, 2019
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Lori Colbo loves to write about her Christian faith and the Bible to encourage and inspire others.

Judas and Peter

In the last twenty-four hours of Jesus' life, all but one of His disciples abandoned Him, running away in fear. The Bible notes the abandonment and betrayal of Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot in specific detail. Both stories look very different. Judas' betrayal would mark him forever as the "Betrayer," a notorious and evil man who got what he deserved. Peter's betrayal would mark him as a weak man and a failure as a disciple and friend of Jesus. We tend to judge them rather harshly.

Judas to this day is held as a sinister, evil, character with a heart of stone. He's the villain we love to hate. But Jesus didn't hate him, he loved him, and had Judas understood the true depths of Jesus love for him, and His forgiveness, the outcome of his life would have been far different.

Peter, on the other hand, had the bravado of a gorilla, but the heart of a lamb. He wore his heart on his sleeve and we all love him for it. We never doubt that Peter loved Jesus, just that his faith was weak, and who can't relate to that? Jesus loved him. That love led Peter back to Jesus, and his life was transformed.

Though both Peter and Judas grievously betrayed Jesus in His darkest hour, they both felt deep remorse. Their actions upon that remorse were very different, however.

Peter - Passion, Bravado, Rash

Peter's intentions were honest and sincere to remain true to Christ and go to any lengths to defend Him, even if it meant dying for Him. Had he not been so impulsive and taken the time to really contemplate his true thoughts and feelings he might not have made such a rash vow. Peter's problem was that often times his bravado and passion were greater than his faith. We can be so like Peter.

During the last supper, Jesus dropped a bomb on Peter - "Simon, Simon! Indeed Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22:31-32).

In typical Peter fashion he postured like a true, brawny, Galilean fisherman and declared, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death!" Peter meant what he said in the heat of the moment. He had every intention of doing what he so passionately vowed if it came down to it, but Jesus told him "I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me” (vs. 24). It seems Peter paid no attention to Jesus' comment and went confidently on his way.

Source

Peter's Betrayal

Peter witnessed a mob arrest Jesus. They'd come with clubs and spears. They meant business. Pugnacious Peter cut off the ear of a servant of the High Priest named Malchus. His earnest desire was to protect Jesus. But Jesus rebuked Peter and put the ear back on Malchus. They led Jesus away and Peter followed from a distance. As they took Jesus in before the High Priest, Peter waited in the courtyard with others who had come to wait for news. He was recognized as one of Jesus' disciples by a servant girl. He denied knowing Jesus, and a rooster crowed. He went to the gate and yet another servant girl recognized him. Again He denied knowing Jesus. Still, others recognized him by his accent and insisted he was a disciple. He was so angry he began to call down curses and denied knowing Jesus for the third time. Then the rooster crowed the second time. In the Luke 22 account we read that upon the last crow of the cock, the Lord turned and looked at Peter then he remembered the Lord had said he would deny him three times by the time the cock crowed twice (vs. 61). Imagine that gut-wrenching, stomach-sinking moment when Jesus locked eyes with Peter and he realized with terrible shame that he had denied and betrayed his dearest friend. So great was his sorrow that he ran away and wept bitterly.

What Peter did was terrible. Jesus had warned him and he blew it off because of his pride. He acted out of fear, however, not of malice. He'd seen the angry mob with their weapons take his friend Jesus away. When he was recognized as one of Jesus' disciples he was afraid the persecution would be his fate as well. I think we can all relate to what Peter did. Violence is a scary thing. Who knows if we would do the same thing? That is one reason why this story is important to us. It is a reminder that we can fall at any time when the heat is turned up. In the garden, Jesus had told Peter, James, and John to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. They chose to sleep rather than pray and so Peter lost the battle of temptation. We must watch and pray, and put on the whole armor of God, as Paul commands.

When he realized he'd just betrayed his friend Jesus, Peter went out and wept bitterly.
When he realized he'd just betrayed his friend Jesus, Peter went out and wept bitterly. | Source

Judas - Greed, Malice and Forethought

Judas Iscariot acted with malice and forethought to betray Jesus. He did not know Jesus in the same way, as the other disciples, otherwise he wouldn't have done what he did. He kept the collection purse, and what went into it was his main concern. Jesus had thousands of people following Him, there were probably some generous donors. But Judas didn't fool anyone. When Mary of Bethany worshiped Jesus by pouring out a very costly pound of oil of spikenard on his feet, it was Judas who feigned concern for the poor by suggesting the money paid for the oil would have been better spent feeding the hungry (John 12:5). The gospel writer follows this with, "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money box, and he used to take what was put in it" (vs 6). Judas pretended to care for the poor because he was a thief, wishing he could have had the money for himself.

Prior to the Passover supper, Satan entered Judas' heart. His tools were secrecy and deception. Judas approached the religious leaders with a deal - the delivery of Jesus for a handsome purse:

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 an opportunity to betray Him" (Matthew 26:14-16).

Thirty pieces of silver were about five weeks of wages (six work days per week). Then Judas went to the Passover meal, dining and reclining with Jesus and his fellow disciples as if nothing were out of the ordinary, as if he were a committed disciple. He was the consummate actor. As we know from the biblical accounts of the Passover supper, Jesus had his number and told him to go and do what he planned to do. This was God's will, for it would accomplish God's plan for Jesus' arrest and crucifixion.

Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. | Source

Judas' Betrayal

Judas' story ends worse than Peter's. Matthew tells us that when the religious leaders showed up to arrest Jesus, Judas identified Him with a greeting and a kiss (vs 49). When they led Jesus away to seek a death sentence from Pilate, Judas was deeply remorseful, full of regret, so much so he went back to the chief priests he had made the deal with and tried to give the money back, saying, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4). Judas was remorseful that he'd cost an innocent man His life, while Peter was sad because he betrayed a friend. The chief priests said, "It's your problem, not ours." Throwing the coins down on the temple ground, Judas fled. He saw no hope, no second chance, he couldn't undo what he did. As Satan had entered his heart earlier, he bought the lie that he was irredeemable - so he went out and hung himself.

If he had paid more attention to Jesus and His teaching and placed his faith in Him, he wouldn't have robbed the coffers or betrayed him in the manner he did. He might have realized that there was hope for restoration upon repentance. The thirty pieces of silver were, interestingly, used by the chief priests to buy a potter's field to bury strangers. It was blood money, therefore unfit for offering at the temple. From then on the field was called the "field of blood" as Jeremiah had prophesied.

Judas was remorseful and regretful that he'd sinned. Unlike Peter, his remorse was not about betraying a friend, only that he'd done wrong and made a mistake. Because he did not see Jesus as a friend, he failed to trust that he could be forgiven.

Because he did not see Jesus as a friend, he failed to trust that he could be forgiven.

Judas' response to his guilt was to hang himself.
Judas' response to his guilt was to hang himself. | Source

Forgiven, Restored, Commissioned

The story ends here for Judas, but not for Peter. After Jesus died on the cross, He was resurrected from the dead, bringing hope to all who would call on Him for salvation. Going back to Luke 22, after Jesus told Peter that Satan requested to sift Peter like wheat, He ended with, "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” This gives us a clue that Peter would repent (turned back), be restored, and commissioned to ministry. That is exactly what happened. John tells us that after Jesus was resurrected, He appeared on the beach one day and had breakfast with the disciples. After their meal Jesus spoke to Peter, asking him if he loved Him. He assured Jesus he did. Jesus replied, "Feed my lambs." Strangely, Jesus asked Peter again, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Once again Peter answered in the affirmative. Again, a third time Jesus asked if Peter loved Him. Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

It is interesting that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter denied Jesus three times previously; now he was able to tell Jesus three times that he loved Him. Jesus believed him because he commissioned Peter to feed His sheep three times. The sheep were believers, the Church. When the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2, Peter was empowered to do just that. And eventually, he did die for his faith in Christ. But he was forgiven and victorious. Thanks be to God for His mercy and grace.

The Differences Between Judas' and Peter's Betrayals

Judas
Peter
Judas did not love or care about Jesus.
Peter loved and cared about Jesus.
Judas' betrayal was premeditated.
Peter made a rash vow with good intentions.
Judas did not deny he knew Jesus.
Peter did deny he knew Jesus.
Satan entered Judas' heart.
Fear entered Peter's heart.
Judas turned Jesus over to his enemies.
Peter wanted to protect Jesus from his enemies.
Judas deliberately betrayed Jesus for money.
Peter betrayed Jesus for fear of persecution.
Judas was remorseful and committed suicide.
Peter had godly sorrow that led to repentance and restoration in his relationship with Jesus.
Judas died with no hope.
Peter held on to hope.
Judas went to hell.
Peter went on to become a leader of the Church. History says he died a martyr.

The bad news was that both of them fell off the track and were both filled with regrets, remorse and anguish... However it was only Peter who chose to rise again after falling! Judas chose to end it with suicide! If you fall, you can rise again!"

— Israelmore Ayivor, The Great Hand Book of Quotes
Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me?"
Jesus said, "Peter, do you love me?" | Source

© 2015 Lori Colbo

Comments

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    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      peach purple, you nailed it.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      peter betrayed Jesus is a common human reaction whiles Judas was a plot with a guilt

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks for your comments LG. I think we forget to remember that Christ loves all and extends His grace to any who would receive Him. Nice to have you back on HP.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Still catching up! Another wonderful study. I especially how you point out Christ's love for Judas - how true! "But Jesus didn't hate him, he loved him, and had Judas understood the true depths of Jesus love for him, and His forgiveness, the outcome of his life would have been far different."

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      4 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I've often wondered how things would have played out if Judas had repented. I know John chapter17 tells us that wasn't going to happen but I still wonder!

      Awesome hub dealing with a very difficult subject. Well done.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Greetings Dora. I think so often we can be hateful of Judas and be judgmental toward Peter. Who are we to judge him? Who knows how we might respond in his shoes. Judas was loved by God and redemption was available to Him. The same is true for every sinner. We must give grace. Thanks for your comments sister.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I am touched by your compassionate look at these two disciples, reminding us of Christ's love for those He came to save. You also remind us that we all have betrayed Him at some point; and that we have the option to choose faith in His forgiveness and redemption. Great pre-Easter message, Lori.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Oztinato, Mary Magdalene, you may be right. I would say the disciples John as well because they were both at the cross. Thank you for your comments.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Andrew Petrou 

      4 years ago from Brisbane

      Lori

      the frightened denying followers of JC is an interesting phenomena. JC was doing such highly spiritual work the disciples were left slightly confused and frightened by it all.

      But tell me who do you say was the one follower who wasn't scared? I say it was Mary Magdalene(?)who went out to the tomb to look for JC when all the men were cowering in fear.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Hi Jodah, I felt a bit of that sorrow for Judas as I wrote this piece. We kind of excuse Peter a bit because he had good intentions; his betrayal wasn't sinister. But the sins of both men were equal. Judas, not knowing the Lord as intimately as Peter, held no hope of restoration. Heartbreaking. Thanks for stopping by Jodah. I always love hearing from you. Thanks for the vote too.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Great hub and interesting read Lori. As you say both of these men betrayed Jesus but have been treated differently by history. I often feel sorry for Judas because his actions (as were Peter's) were ordained by God. They had to do what they did, even if they didn't want to. Judas showed the most remorse by trying to return the money and hang himself. I am sure if he realised that he would be forgiven and Jesus resurrected that he would have gone on to do good work for the Lord and redeem himself, like Peter. Voted up.

    • lambservant profile imageAUTHOR

      Lori Colbo 

      4 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Glad to hear from you Eric. I always appreciate your feedback.

      pstraubie, you are so right about how many lessons are in these two stories. I wrestled a bit with Peter because although he sinned against and betrayed Jesus, he had good intentions. But at the end of the day, they both sinned, period. How wonderful for Peter that he knew Christ enough to hope for restoration. Judas could have had it too. Thanks for your input and for your votes. I'm receiving angels as we speak. Blessings!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      How well you made this comparison.

      Two disciples who would betray Jesus to w pledged themselves.

      So many lessons lie within the stories of these two men.

      Thank you for sharing this thought provoking article.

      Angels are on the way to you this afternoon. ps

      Voted up++++ and shared

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done. I have often thought about this and I thank you for laying it all out in such an organized and proper fashion.

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