Matthew 27:3-5 – When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
“Spy Wednesday” of Holy Week recalls Judas Iscariot’s plotting with the chief priests the betrayal of Jesus. Judas’ revolt definitely shows he’d had enough of Jesus’ leadership. Early on, the good times of Jesus’ rising popularity and influence had been one thing. But then Jesus began changing course, and Judas hated it. The way to the top had been wide open for Jesus, but instead of, “I’m going to the throne,” it was “I’m heading to a cross, and I’m taking you with me.” Jesus-in-charge was no longer pleasant and profitable, but increasingly hard and costly, and not just for Judas, but all the disciples. They all forsook Jesus just hours after Judas did.
But Judas’ greatest mistake came when the guilt of what he had done overwhelmed him, and he insisted on trying to compensate for his own sin. He sought to undo his wickedness by returning the blood money, but failing that, he took his own life. This act of apparent humility and contrition was in fact the ultimate expression of prideful self-righteousness.
Peter, who denied Jesus not once but three times after having pledged Him his loyalty to the death, was similarly crushed with with the horror of his own sin. But he ran (or rather swam – John 21:7) not from Jesus but to Jesus with his guilt. Peter made no deals, resolutions, or promises, offered no self-punishment, in an effort somehow to self-atone for his sin, but humbly received Jesus’ offer of forgiveness and restoration (John 21:15-17).
Grace is so humiliating! And it is the only cure for our worst disease–the cancer of pride! The greatest mistake we could ever make is to refuse the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. Let us make no mistake, our sinful, self-righteous efforts to compensate for our own sin and achieve our own righteousness are not only utterly futile, but our most insulting offenses in the sight of God. But, oh the joy in heaven when we sinners come to Jesus (Luke 15:7)! And neither our need to come to Jesus, nor the Father’s joy over our coming to Jesus will ever diminish.
What resentment about how Jesus has been dealing with you lately, or what shame over how you have responded to Jesus do you need to bring to Him today for His grace?