The writer, Humboldt, very fittingly said, "I am convinced that our happiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life, than on the nature of those events themselves". This great truth has never been more graphically illustrated than in the lives of the Apostles Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot. The first denied his Lord and the second betrayed the Saviour. Both were terrible sins, but they did different things to the men who committed them. The difference in the results of these transgressions lay in the faith on the part of one and the disbelief in the heart of the other.
Simon Peter had earlier protested to Jesus that he would go to prison for the Master. He would even die for Him. Certainly, he would not run away and desert Him in any hour of trial. But how little did Peter know! When Jesus was arrested in the garden, Peter did put up an initial defense of his Best Friend. He struck out with the sword and was fortunate by not having been killed by the Jewish soldiers of the High Priest's guard. Jesus took the sword away from Simon. In Matthew Chapter 26, verse 52 Jesus said, "Put up again thy sword into his place; for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword".
Peter was stunned by His Lord's behavior. The only weapon Peter knew how to use was taken from him. Now, how could he defend Jesus? Simon was amazed, frustrated and bewildered. So must have been all the disciples because Matthew's account of the arrest says, "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled". Matthew Chapter 26, verse 56. Simon Peter tried a hasty comeback however. He followed the crowd to the palace of Ciaphas, the high priest. Here again, he was put under pressure and failed his Lord.
Three times various ones recognized Peter as one of Jesus' friends and confronted him with the relationship, only to receive an adamant denial that he knew Jesus. Under heavy strain Simon even stooped to cursing and swearing to persuade his enemies that he had no association with Christ. At 'this Point the rooster crew as the Lord had said it would. This shook Peter into reality and to an understanding of what he had done. The scripture says, "And he went out and wept bitterly" Matthew 26:75.
Peter was a good man. lie had faith. It was his faith tha'L. saw him through his terrible ordeal. I+. led him back to Jesus for forgiveness. It led him back to God for another chance. It was humiliating. It was embarrassing. But it was the only thing to do, if he would ever know happiness again. His faith led him out of his cowardice and on to great things in the Kingdom of God. The outcome of Peter's trials was not so much a matter of the events themselves, but how he met adversity. On the other hand, Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemene, with a kiss. And he too came to himself and sought to make amends. He even took the 30 pieces of silver back to the Jewish leaders and begged for the life of Jesus. This request was denied. Here is where the tragedy of Disbelief became evident.
Could Judas not return to Jesus as Simon did? Surely! The Lord had taught them both that He would be resurrected from the dead. But Judas did not believe. Instead of repenting of his sin and surrendering his life back to God, he saw no way out. His pride was too great for him to face either the Lord or the other Apostles. Matthew's account of the gospel says, "And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself" Matthew 27:5. The tragedy in Judas's life was not that he betrayed the Son of God, but that he betrayed himself! His faith was too weak. His pride was too strong! The event did not make or break him within itself, rather his response to the betrayal crushed out his life in suicide. The simple lesson in the life of Judas Iscariot was the tragedy of disbelief.