As the temple guards bound Jesus’s hands and led Him away John followed. He grabbed Peter’s sleeve as he walked by to get him to join the crowd. Judas Iscariot lagged behind. The other disciples moved away from the commotion for their safety.
When the gate closed behind the crowd as they entered Annas’s house John was inside. He had the gate keepers open the barrier to let Peter in. John worked his way as close to the action as he could get, Peter kept his distance.
A fire was started to warm those in attendance. Peter drew near the fire with a blank stare.
A servant girl across from him pointed a finger at Peter. “You’re one of this man’s followers. Aren’t you?”
Peter glanced up. “I don’t know the man.”
A few minutes passed as a man standing next to Peter looked at his clothes. “You’re not one of this man’s disciples? Are you?”
Peter made eye contact. “No, I’m not.”
Nearly an hour later the man next to Peter pointed at him. “I recognize that accent. You’re from Galilee. You are one of His followers.”
Peter backed up and shouted. “Man, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know Him!”
The crowing of the rooster drowned out the echo of Peter’s curse. Peter looked at a window of the house. Jesus was looking directly at him, the compassion was more than Peter could take. He burst out of the scene, found the nearest lonely alley he could find and fell in his tears and sobbed uncontrollably.
Judas followed the crowd from Annas’s to Caiaphas’s house, then to the hastily called Sanhedrin. As soon as he heard the charge of blasphemy and saw how Jesus wasn’t putting up any fight the knot in his stomach doubled him over.
As Jesus was led to Pontius Pilate Judas walked to the temple. “I don’t understand. Jesus is the Messiah. Why can’t they accept that? The kingdom must be starting later than this or Jesus would be taking a stand now. I’ve blown it. I put my agenda first. This isn’t what I thought would happen. Why didn’t I see it?”
Judas grabbed the robe of one of the priests he followed into the temple. He took the thirty pieces of silver out of his money bag and handed it to the priest. “Take this back! I’ve betrayed innocent blood.”
The priest stood back and put his hands behind him. “That has nothing to do with us. That’s your money to do what you want with it.”
Judas’s hands shook as he searched the men’s eyes. The coins were still echoing on the floor as Judas left.
He went to the market and bought a section of rope with his remaining money. Then he went to the tree that grew on the cliff outside the city. He tossed one end of the rope to the crotch halfway out the branch over the cliff. Grabbing the free end he tied a slip-knot that he’d learned from the fishermen. Once he tightened that end to the branch he fashioned another slip-knot on the other end and placed his neck in the opening before he jumped.
Denying and betrayal are kissing cousins, very closely related. Peter’s denying didn’t lead to a betrayal; but, Judas betrayal was preceded by a denying on his part. So, it’s extremely important to recognize when we’re involved in denying so we don’t cross over into betrayal.
I know I’ve too often, and too quickly, slipped into Peter’s sandals more times than I want to admit to. As a local truck driver I come in contact with the other drivers on staff. The topic of conversation invariably goes to what music each of us listens to. I usually respond that I listen to many types of music rather than declaring that I listen to Christian music.
It’s not like my lifestyle would shock any of them by the discovery. It’s more like a public statement of being a Jesus follower, and I wasn’t comfortable in answering their potential questions that might be directed my way. So, rather than stepping out of my comfort zone to become a possible influence to lead them to the kingdom, I played it safe; and felt the Holy Spirit in me sniffle. That played out too many times.
Have I crossed the line of betrayal? I don’t think so. I’ve remained totally faithful to my wife, and my body (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). I’ve refused to go out with co-workers who want to drink (not get drunk) after work so I don’t give off the suggestion that I approve of such conduct. I know of some who are reaching out to un-believers by going and not drinking; I understand their outreach and I pray for their success, but I’ve decided to not go there myself.
I must admit that it’s much easier to take a stand for Jesus when I know there are other Christians in attendance. I hope you noticed in this passage that both Peter and Judas were alone in their journeys. Peter was so bold when it was him and Jesus and the other disciples in the conversation. But, when all that support left him alone he sang a much different tune, and sank to a place he didn’t even think possible.
And why did Judas, the one Jesus entrusted with the group’s money, hang himself rather than hold on for possible redemption (as we now know occurred with Peter)? The answer to that is given in John 13:27. After Jesus handed Judas the piece of bread that denoted him as the betrayer in the upper room John declares that “Satan entered him.” Make no mistake about it Satan’s one mission is to destroy mankind, the ones created in God’s image. Just ask anybody involved in trying to save any addict of any of the numerous devices Satan uses to bring about our downfall.
The only way to break free from those traps is to give your life to Jesus. And then…
I’ll see you later. Wade