Remorse or Repentance?
Scripture reading for February 11th: Matthew 26:69-27:14, Psalm 31, Proverbs 8:33-36
In our passage for today we have the personal stories of two of Jesus’ close disciples. Peter had denied Jesus three times, even calling down curses on himself! Just hours earlier, Jesus had predicted that Peter would do that. (Matthew 26:33-35) Peter had faithfully sworn that he was willing to die with Jesus rather than deny Him. He failed miserably. (Matthew 26:74-75) Judas was the treasurer of the band of disciples. He had betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver and had brought the soldiers and religious leaders to the Garden of Gethsemane, kissing Jesus to identify Him.
Jesus knew beforehand about how each of these men would react during His appointment with Passover. He was compassionate toward both of them, but knew how they would ultimately respond. Some people struggle with how Judas was left to kill himself and Peter was ultimately restored. They feel that God was somehow unfair. We must understand why our personal response to God must be real repentance and not just remorse!
Judas walked with Jesus for over three years. He was treasurer of the group and Scripture records that he was a thief, often stealing from the bag for his personal needs. He betrayed Jesus for the thirty pieces of silver. At the final Passover meal, Jesus announced that one at the table would betray Him. Judas asked if he was the one and Jesus identified him as the one who would betray him. (Matthew 26:20-25) He did betray Him and when He saw that Jesus was condemned, Judas was filled with remorse and threw the money back into the temple. He then went out and hanged himself.
Both Peter and Judas were disciples who followed Jesus and experienced the miracles and great teaching. Both failed the Lord, along with all their fellow disciples. Peter wept bitterly over his denials but found true repentance and restoration, going on to become one of the great leaders of the early church. Judas was full of remorse, but failed to trust God for forgiveness and restoration. He instead took his punishment into his own hands and committed suicide. Remorse and repentance sound similar, but are very different. Remorse is only sorrow over sin, often just sorrow over being found out. Repentance is sorrow that produces a change in behavior and attitude. (2nd Corinthians 7:8-11) One leads to hell, the other to heaven!