The dichotomy of Christ and Judas
One of these men we who belong to Christ will meet because that betrayer is in heaven. The other, you who reject Christ may meet because he’s in hell.
One of these preachers ended a suicide, hanging himself and not even doing that successfully–book of Acts tells us that his end came when he fell and was disemboweled on the rocks below.
Whether the branch broke, the rope broke, or the knot was inadequate, he was a tragic suicide, eternally banished. The other ended his life a saint, crucified upside down and eternally blessed.
Two men side by side for three years, experiencing exactly the same thing in the presence of the glorious Son of God, together ended up as separated as two human beings can be, one in heaven and one in hell.
That separation may be portrayed a little bit in the listing of the apostles in the four places the apostles are listed in the New Testament. Peter is the first name and Judas is the last.
And they both had the same experience with Jesus Christ. Their lives, in that sense, couldn’t have been more similar, and their ends couldn’t have been more dissimilar.
What made the difference? Why does Peter end up in heaven and Judas in hell? Well the answer is very simple–they had different attitudes toward Jesus Christ, that’s what it comes down to. Salvation isn’t by works; they did the same works.
It isn’t by knowledge; they had the same knowledge. They were given the same information.
Salvation can be basically boiled down to a person’s attitude toward Jesus Christ. To put it simply, Peter loved Him and Judas hated Him, and they came out of the same context. The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.
All the disciples fell away temporarily
Now I want to go back and I want to look at Peter, the second person, second preacher, second disciple.
So let’s go back to chapter 26 and pick up the story. In verse 30 they sang a hymn and they went out to the Mount of Olives. And in verse 31, Jesus makes an amazing statement, “You will all stumble, you will all trip up, you will all fall away because of Me this night. For it is written”…and He quotes Zechariah 13:7…“I will strike down the shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.” You’re all going to defect. You’re all going to fall. You will all be literally offended. You’ll all have a kind of tacit denial, tacit betrayal.
What it means to be a Christian
After the resurrection in Galilee, according to John 21, Jesus found Peter, found him fishing, which he shouldn’t have been doing, but he was. And he had breakfast with him by the shore of the lake. And He said this to Peter: “Peter, do you”…What?…“do you love Me?” That’s always the question, folks. That’s the question. Don’t get too complicated about what it means to be a Christian. It means you love Christ, that’s what it means.
What makes us truly repent
Now let me say something that is very important at this point. Sin and guilt do not produce true repentance. Sin and guilt do not produce true repentance.
They may produce remorse; they may produce regret. They may produce sorrow and sadness, and it can even be so severe that it’s deadly–people kill themselves ’cause they can’t bear the consequences of their evil.
But sin and guilt do not produce true repentance. The horror of Judas’ sin didn’t make him repent.
Listen! And the horror of Peter’s sin didn’t make him repent. And the ugliness of your sin and the weight of your guilt will not make you repent–it is not enough to make a sinner repent.
It is enough to make you sad and full of remorse and make you try to undo it and even make you kill yourself. But it’s not enough to bring you to true repentance. What makes the sinning, guilt-ridden soul repent is seeing and loving Christ, seeing and loving Christ. Christ becomes all in all, a source of grace and salvation.
It’s all about loving Christ. And that’s how you know your spiritual condition. A benediction, Ephesians 6:24, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Let me read that again, “Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.”
Do you love Him? Do you love Him so that you long to honor Him, to please Him, to exalt Him, to lift up His name, to obey His Word, to proclaim Him? That’s the mark of a true believer.