A Pastor’s Ponderings: A Tale of Two Traitors


Dave HollandBy Pastor David Holland

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:47-48

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” Luke 22:31-34

I have failed more often than succeeded in my attempts to live a godly life. I’m not the worst sinner, but I know my bad habits, evil thoughts and misspent youth. Many times I could have spoken up for the Lord and stayed silent, so I get mad at myself. Or the frequent occasions I made bad choices when given the opportunity to make money. Or better yet, the situations when I knew the right thing to do and did the wrong thing anyway. These make me feel like a traitor, like Peter or Judas.

Yet, Jesus loves me anyway.

Christ and the disciples sat for their last supper together. The Passover holiday season made this a special time, similar to our Thanksgiving. Traitors sat among the disciples and ate with Jesus that night. Judas and Peter standout as obvious candidates, but they all abandoned Jesus when it mattered most.

All the deserters experienced Christ washing their feet and heard him wooing the disciples to love one another. Christ warned each of them concerning their upcoming failures. They didn’t listen.

Yet he loved them anyway.

Judas is the most famous traitor in history. The treasurer for Christ and his band had ample opportunity to feel the money in his hands. As the end drew near, he sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver – roughly four months’ wages. If the average worker today made about $1,000 a week, that amount would equal $17,000. A hefty sum, tempting even.

The betrayal by Judas led to the cross and death for Christ. But that wasn’t Judas’ worst sin.

Feeling remorse over the result of his betrayal, Judas went and hung himself. He gave up rather than face his failure and return to the Lord. He didn’t have the faith to believe God could forgive him, so it became his unforgivable sin. The moral of the story? Don’t give up on the grace of God.

But what about the great disciple, Peter, the brash fisherman who walked on water and confessed “thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.?” What led to his failure?

As the gang of soldiers rushed in to arrest Jesus, Peter boldly stepped up to resist them. In an act of bravado, he swung a sword at a soldier attempting to cut off his head. The soldier tried to duck the blow, but the sword lopped off his ear.

Christ rebukes Peter and heals the ear before they led him away to be beaten and tried. During the trial, Peter stood by, anonymously warming his hands by the fire. When a young lady recognized him as a Jesus follower, he denied Jesus three times, swore, and ran away. Why did he run away like a frightened little girl? Guilt makes cowards of us all.

Thankfully, Peter’s story doesn’t end there. Guilt still hung on Peter like a dirty diaper, but the residue of hope rested, sleeping in his heart.

Early in the morning, on the first day of the week after Christ’s crucifixion, two women burst through the door, babbling about gardeners, angels and an empty tomb.

Hope awakened in Peter’s heart. He jumped up and ran to the tomb. Finding it empty, Peter stood between the living and the dead, pondering the possibility of Christ’s resurrection.
Later, we find Peter at the Sea of Galilee fishing. When the resurrected Lord called to him from the shore, Peter leaped into the water and swam to the Master. Jesus was cooking breakfast for him as a sign of his love, forgiveness and acceptance.

Peter’s life had been dominated by impetuous actions and failures. Jesus still wanted him, despite his failures.

Eventually, Peter became a different man – a man on the road to thoughtful wisdom. Never to be a traitor again, Peter would die upside down on a Roman cross rather than betray the Lord. The traitor became the courageous.

Successful Christians keep coming back for more mercy and discover again the faithfulness of God. Don’t give up on the grace of God because, despite our failures, Jesus loves us anyway.

Dave Holland pastored churches for 38 years before retiring in Destin. He recently released his new devotional Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled, “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can get a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org, or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences. Contact him at DavidvHolland54@gmail.com.