Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot were two of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Both of them were pivotal figures in the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. Both of them failed miserably in the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ arrest and trial, but there was a significant difference between their failures. One was restored, while the other was lost. Peter had lost faith, but Judas had lost love.
Peter experienced a faith crisis following Christ’s arrest. But Jesus was not surprised because He had predicted it: And the Lord said, “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).
Peter’s faith did not completely crumble, but it did suffer a setback. He had given up the hope that if he stayed by Jesus’ side, he would eventually triumph. After leaving Jesus, Peter denied knowing Him three times. Jesus had just told Peter that evening that he would deny Him three times. Even after realizing he had fulfilled the prophecy, Peter couldn’t muster the courage to stand by Jesus’ side. He still loved Jesus, which was why he wept so bitterly, but his faith had crumbled.
Satan sifted all the disciples, but he started with Peter, the top leader. Some aspects of Peter’s sifting were similar to Job’s. Here are five points about Satan’s sifting that can be found in the books of Job and Luke 22:
1. Satan had to obtain permission from God to sift Peter and Job. He cannot sift God’s children without first seeking God’s permission. Without divine permission, Satan cannot penetrate God’s wall of protection around His elect.
2. God does say ‘YES’ on occasion. God doesn’t give Satan permission every time because He understands each of His servants’ strengths and weaknesses. It appears that God frequently rejects Satan’s requests. But, on rare occasions, God will grant Satan the access he seeks.
3. In the sifting, both Satan and God have their agendas. Satan’s goal is to make God’s servant a spiritual casualty, while God’s goal is to make him an even more effective vessel for the kingdom.
4. Jesus is praying for us while we are being sifted. Jesus promised Peter that He would pray for him, and He will pray for us as well.
5. You will strengthen your brethren as you return to Jesus in renewed faith. The sifted, not the strong, are the ones who strengthen others.
Unlike Peter who lost faith, Judas Iscariot lost love for Jesus. As one of the twelve apostles, Judas struggled to fit in. Jesus’ inner circle included Peter, James, and John. Judas felt like he was on the periphery. Although he was in charge of the ministry’s finances, he struggled to feel approved by Jesus. Judas got his final blow during a special dinner in Bethany where Mary anointed Jesus with highly expensive spikenard oil.
Judas spoke to impress Jesus with his zeal to help the poor. “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. (John 12:5). Jesus immediately rebuked him, “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:7-8). Judas had publicly rebuked Mary, so it was only fitting that his rebuke was delivered in the same manner. But this rebuke stung.
Judas’ attitude toward life changed as a result of Jesus’ rebuke. He probably thought, “With Jesus, I don’t have a future. I think he’s a wonderful person, however, there is no room for my advancement in the team. I don’t think I will ever get the kind of friendship and favor with Jesus that I’ve been longing for. It’s time to wake up, leave the team, and go on with my life.”
Judas loved himself more than Jesus. His desire was not to further Jesus’ cause but to further his own interests and career.
Ever wondered why Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver? He may have believed he was doing both himself and Jesus a favor. Judas may have reasoned, “Since I’m leaving the team anyhow, I might as well do it in a way that benefits both Jesus and me. The money would help me guarantee my own future, and the betrayal would push Jesus to reveal Himself to the rest of the world. Jesus would elude arrest, as He always has, and would most likely make His intentions known to the world.”
Because he had lost his love for Jesus, Judas betrayed him. He most likely still had faith in Jesus, but no longer loved him.
If you lose faith, Jesus can intercede for you. What, on the other hand, can you do if you lose your love?
Judas made money off the crucifixion. Jesus referred to money as “unrighteous mammon” (Luke 16:9), implying that it has an inherent malevolent nature. Jesus was crucified because of money. Let our hands tremble as we handle money.
There is one significant distinction between Peter and Judas.
Satan had to ask permission to sift Peter, but he entered Judas without even asking(John 13:27). Why did he not need divine permission to enter Judas? The answer is linked to the money box.
Judas was Jesus’ treasurer. He was in charge of the ministry’s money box. He dispersed the funds according to Jesus’ instructions. He also stole from the box. (John 12:6). It’s not that stealing was a particularly heinous or unforgivable sin. The problem was that, rather than confessing and repenting, Judas concealed his sin on purpose. He was given numerous chances to repent, but he refused to bring his sins into the light. He continued to hide his sins.
Peter, on the other hand, was an open book. Peter’s issues were just as dark but he let Jesus see and address them. He had a lot of issues but no secrets.
Judas, on the other hand, had secrets. He hid his stealing from Jesus. He presumably thought to himself, “Jesus doesn’t even know I’m stealing because if He did, He wouldn’t give the money box to me. Everyone believes He knows everything, yet He has no idea that His own treasurer is taking from the box! He isn’t as all-knowing as everyone believes.”
Because Judas refused to repent and walk in the light, Satan was able to enter him uninvited and drag him to his death.
What can we take away from Judas? Never hide anything from Jesus. Keep no secrets. Even if you feel enslaved by sin and don’t know how to break free, make a heartfelt decision to walk in the light. Pray something like this: “Jesus, I’m having this problem. I’m going to show it to you. Please help me change and overcome!”
Love Him, believe in Him, and show Him everything. If you do, He’ll bring you through.