My home group has been going through 1 Peter over the past couple months, with the occasional break here and there due to summer plans, and possibly an attempt to maintain sanity. The other day I was told that we’d be doing something different this past week, and to let the other members of our home group know that we should bring a meaningful verse to discuss instead of 1 Peter. Now, I don’t know what part of my brain kicked in and does things like this, but the first verse I thought of was “And Judas went and hung himself.” Granted, that’s not a word for word recitation of Matthew 27:5, but it was close enough for me to give myself a quizzical look, laugh, and text several people to inform them of the insanity that just occurred. I don’t know if it was that sarcasm tends to be what makes waking up before noon on a Sunday tolerable, or if that’s just the way my brain works. Honestly, I probably don’t want to know the answer to that question. But as I was driving in to work the next day, it hit me that there was much more to this than its comedic value. Even in Judas’s last moments, even as a traitor, there’s a lesson for us.
This verse is so heavy because Judas saw that what he had done condemned an innocent man to death (Matt. 27:4). Wracked with guilt, he threw his payment back at the feet of those to whom he sold out Jesus and went and hung himself. He felt the weight of his sin and it crushed him to the point of taking his own life. Because that’s what sin does. It robs us of the temporary satisfaction we sought and then it kills us. So often we look at this piece of the story and all that we know about loyalty and allegiance kicks in and we think to ourselves Of course he killed himself! Treason is punishable by death! It’s what he deserved! While that’s true, there’s still a problem. I am Judas, and so are you.
Like Judas, we have committed treason against the King. Both through our fallen nature which we inherit from Adam, and also through our own actions. We choose the kingdom of the world over the Kingdom of God. We are traitors. Like Judas, every day we wake up and kiss Jesus on the cheek and stab Him in the back. Like Judas, for those of us who trust in Jesus, Jesus calls us “friend” and every day the refrain from the cross echoes on our behalf “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Unlike Judas, the weight of our sin doesn’t have to drive us to kill ourselves, because Jesus stepped in and took that weight upon Himself. Instead, the weight of God’s glory and the sheer amount of His love and grace should drive us to repentance. Not just apologies. But real, true repentance where we actually change and fight to kill sin (Col. 3:5-11). Whether it be lust or gossip or gluttony. The weight of glory should drive us to repentance.