The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/26

Posted on | March 26, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/26

Scripture reading: II Corinthians 7:8–10

Good Grief

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,

whereas worldly grief produces death. (II Corinthians 7:10)

 

I can’t prove this, but I’m pretty sure that Paul must have had Peter and Judas in mind when he wrote this verse. During Jesus’ final week, both men experienced intense moments of grief over moral failure in their lives. But the outcomes for the two men could not have been more different. Matthew’s Gospel puts these two stories side by side, obviously wanting us to compare and contrast one with the other.

A servant girl came up to Peter and said, “You also were with Jesus . . .” But he denied it before them all . . . Another servant girl said, “This man was with Jesus . . .” Again he denied it with an oath . . . After a while the bystanders said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them . . .” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. . . .

When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? . . .” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 26:69–27:5)

The two stories have so much in common.

,. Both men were trusted members of the apostolic band of twelve disciples.

,. Both had been personally warned by Jesus in explicit terms of the temptations they were about to face.

,. Both men committed serious sins. Perhaps betraying someone is worse than denying someone but it is always risky to try to rank sins. Jesus said that if anyone denied him before men, he would deny them before his father in heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

,. Both men felt really bad about what they had done. Peter “wept bitterly” and Judas “changed his mind” (other translations: regretted, felt remorse, repented).

,. Finally, both men could have been forgiven. Neither man’s sin was in and of itself unforgivable. Even Judas could have been forgiven . . . if he had only asked.

But in spite of all the similarities, the two men ended up very differently. Peter found forgiveness and was chosen by the Lord to preach the first Gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost. Judas went out and hung himself. So what made the difference? Basically this: Peter’s sorrow was “godly grief” that led him to a tree—the cross of Calvary where he found redemption and a bright future. Judas’ sorrow was a “worldly grief” that led to despair and another kind of tree, one from which he hung himself. The difference between the stories of Peter and Judas is not so much in what they did, but in how they responded to what they did. Judas was ultimately lost not because his sin was “worse” that someone else’s but because he grieved in the wrong way.

Charlie Brown may have made the phrase “Good grief!” popular, but Jesus is the only one who can make it meaningful.

 

No man begins to be good till he sees himself to be bad.

—Thomas Brooks

point to ponder The only sin that can’t be forgiven is the sin that is not confessed.

prayer focus For someone who has experienced moral failure.

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