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Better or Bitter

the_choice_by_nightline-d9xf78.jpg“And then that awful sound, the sound of prophesy fulfilled
And then I met your eyes, and I remember everything
And something in me dies, the night that I betrayed my King .”

                                                –Like Moths to Flame, Thrice


                Everyone reacts differently to bad things happening, or to the realization that they’ve done something hurtful. Some people go into denial, some get angry, and others get remorseful. When I realize I’ve done something stupid and hurt someone else I feel incredibly guilty, then I can’t stop thinking about it and playing it over and over in my head. Most of the time I come out the other side with a resolve to do better next time, to be better. Most of the time it was something silly and unthinking, so I become more careful with my words or actions.

                Sometimes though, realizing you’ve really hurt or betrayed someone can seriously knock you down. What you’ve done hits you like a train and takes a long time to recover, for you to be able to forgive yourself, that is if you can at all. In the gospel story we see two very shining examples of this.

                In the gospel story there are two people who really betrayed Jesus. He knew both would, and both of the vehemently denied that it would happen. I can’t imagine the blow on either side when it actually happened.

                The first person that comes to mind when we talk about betrayal and the Bible is usually Judas. He sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. The man he’d been traveling with for three years, someone who was supposed to be his good friend, the man he betrayed for 30 measly pieces of silver. Judas knew he did something wrong.

                He tried to return the money and take it all back, but it was too late. The guilt was so great he felt like he could never be forgiven. That he’d done the worst thing possible, and Judas ended up taking his own life because of it.

                Could Judas have been forgiven? Of course, that’s what Jesus died for, but Judas couldn’t handle the guilt. He couldn’t live with what he’d done. It tuned him bitter and threw him into a great sorrow. He didn’t think there was any coming back from this. He betrayed the Son of God, though he wasn’t the only one.

                Earlier the same exact day Peter stood and confidently told Jesus that he would never betray Him, that Peter would stay with Jesus till the end. Jesus replied that, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:34-35.

                That night Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. Three times. After Peter realized what he’d done “he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75. The beginning of the next chapter is when we find out Judas’ fate, that “he was seized with remorse.” The Bible uses very strong language to tell us just how horribly these two men felt. This was heavy.

                Judas ended up hanging himself he felt so bad, but what did Peter do? Peter repented and went on to not only publicly say he believed in Jesus and followed Him, but Peter work tirelessly to spread the Good News and further the church. Peter took this terribly thing he had don and used it to learn from, to do better. Peter turn it into a stepping stone and went on to do great things in the name of Jesus. Peter didn’t let the guilt and remorse take him down.

                Romans 2:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All of us fall short. We’re not perfect, we sin daily. But I guess the real question is are we going to let these mistakes take us down, or are we going to admit we made a mistake and allow ourselves to learn from it? God doesn’t call us into a life of guilt, when an adulterous woman was brought to Jesus and asked what should be done with her He tells the woman to “go and sin no more.” He doesn’t condemn her; he calls her to learn from her actions and then challenges her to do better. So are we going to react like Judas, and allow our shortcomings to make us bitter? Or will we step up like Peter, and let the mistakes be a stepping stone for us to learn and to become better?

 

 

Picture by Nightline