“I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Judas, Matthew 27:4)
Why do people respond or react in different ways when faced with the same or similar circumstances and situations? The answer to this question may have a lot to do with what we believe and what we value.
The twelve disciples of Jesus all spent about three years with Him observing all that He did and listening to what He had to say.
They had previously been taught by the Rabbis that when Israel’s Messiah came He would deliver Israel from oppression and domination by Gentile nations. In their lifetime the Gentile nation that ruled Israel was the Roman Empire. The disciples therefore would have an expectation that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman rule and Roman oppression.
Along with many other people in Jerusalem at the time when Jesus rode the colt into the city (Matthew 21:1-11) the disciples believed that Jesus was that Messiah. Their expectation therefore was that Jesus would extinguish Roman rule and dominion and establish His own earthly kingdom as promised to King David (2 Samuel 7:16). The disciples were so sure of this that they argued among themselves regarding their position in that kingdom (Mark 10:35-41).
Jesus had told His disciples on several occasions that He would die and rise again but they apparently dismissed this as impossible. After all, they believed that Jesus was God and He confirmed that fact by miracles on many occasions.
Judas betrayed Jesus in what may have been an attempt to force Jesus’ hand. He accepted money in payment for this betrayal. He was a thief. He sought power, prestige and wealth for himself. As the current “treasurer” his expectation was that he would be treasurer in the kingdom. Remember that the disciples had recently been arguing about their positions in the kingdom.
The different responses to Jesus being taken into custody were not in what each believed. Both Judas and Peter believed that Jesus was Israel’s long awaited Messiah and that He would establish His own kingdom at that time. The difference was in their values. Judas valued position, power and prestige. Peter was grieved and wept not because he had lost the opportunity for position, power and prestige but because he knew he had severely damaged his relationship with Jesus. Judas had no intimate relationship with Jesus. His sorrow was over his personal loss. Peter grieved over the loss in his relationship with Jesus.
The question for each of us is whether we are seeking high position in Christ’s kingdom or seeking a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. If we serve Jesus to gain merit it is clear that we are seeking position in His kingdom and that will lead us to betray or deny Him at some time. On the other hand if our desire is an intimate relationship with Jesus we will always be grieved and repentant when we damage that relationship by sin. Like Peter we will look with aching heart for Him to come and reconcile us to Himself. He will come.