JUDAS ISCARIOT, the Impostor
“‘When Judas, who had betrayed Him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he declared, ‘for I have betrayed an innocent man.’ ‘What do we care?’ they retorted. ‘That’s your problem.’ Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.” Matthew 27:3-5 (NLT)
Judas was called. He was chosen to be one of the twelve disciples, those closest to Jesus, the ones who would be entrusted to carry the Good News of Salvation to the world. Not only did he look like them, but he enjoyed a position of trust. He was the treasurer; he carried the money. Those who followed Jesus may well have seen him as very important…a leader…a person of influence. So close, yet so far away that he would betray Jesus for money. When he realized the sin of betrayal he threw back the bribe price and went out and hanged himself. It appears his association with Jesus was all for “show.” His heart never heard the message of Love. Instead of repenting and going to Jesus for forgiveness and mercy, he made the choice to end his life.
SIMON PETER, the Impulsive
Simon Peter, one of the three disciples who Jesus invited to pray with Him during the most intimate hours of His life before execution. Simon was impressive. His size attracted attention. He was big, capable and enthusiastic…pretty sure of his capabilities. He was a man with great spiritual discernment one moment, followed by foot-in-mouth disease the next. Remember when he, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-17)? Jesus commended his testimony, declaring that He would build His church on that truth. Then, when Jesus began to tell them He would suffer and die for their sins, Peter’s foot couldn’t get into his mouth fast enough!
“But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand Him for saying such things. ‘Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you!’ Jesus turned to Peter and said, ‘Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:22-23 NLT
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 (NLT)
“Peter said to Him, ‘Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you he truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ ‘NO!’ Peter declared emphatically. ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” Mark 14:29-31a (NLT)
“So they arrested Him and led Him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, ‘This man was one of Jesus’ followers!’ But Peter denied it. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘I don’t even know him!’ After awhile someone else looked at him and said, ‘You must be one of them!’ ‘No, man I’m not!’ Peter retorted. About an hour later someone else insisted, ‘This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And Peter left the courtyard weeping bitterly.” Luke 22: 54-62 (NLT)
“When they entered the tomb, they (Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome) saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, ‘Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.” Mark 16:5-7
Simon Peter…so capable…so enthusiastic to declare the faith, yet so in the moment. Acting without being led, action without surrender. It took the brokenness of his denial of Jesus and Jesus’ acknowledgement of that act, for him to go off and search his soul. Knowing the depth of his anguish, Jesus sought him out to restore him, to woo him back to reconciliation. Peter responded. He made the choice to repent and ultimately be made a powerful vessel for truth.
JOHN, the Beloved
“Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother standing there beside the disciple He loved, He said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.’ And He said to this disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from then on this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 (NLT)
In his Gospel, John wrote of himself in the third person, “the one who Jesus loved.” His account of the suffering of Jesus on the cross indicates that he returned to the place of crucifixion after taking Mary to his home. He was the only disciple to remain with Jesus through His arrest, interrogation, torture and crucifixion.
“(This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.)” John 19:35 (NLT)
John loved Jesus, not his own life. He stayed near when it was a peril to his life to do so. He stayed near even when his world was caving in. His hopes for Jesus, for the ministry, all dying on the cross.
These three have made me think about my own life and where I stand with Jesus in my daily choices. Do I look like a godly woman but have an inward attitude that renders me spiritually dead? Do I profess to be Jesus’ friend but have my own agenda and go off to do something before I hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit directing me which way I should go? Or…do I love Jesus so much that I will stay with Him even when things are falling apart in my life?
All of the disciples were within hearing distance when Jesus said He must suffer and die but would rise again after three days. It was a promise that should have encouraged them through the darkest hour mankind would ever witness. What promises are we forgetting that should get us through our darkest hour?
It has been said, ‘Death died with the Resurrection.” God has demonstrated His great power over life and death. May each one of us remember that He keeps His promises and may His Holy Spirit strengthen, guide and encourage us anew through each day.
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
by Marilyn Allison