One of the most important themes of Lent is forgiveness, and our need for God’s amazing grace.
The events leading up to the Passion show that forgiveness, for some, is not as easy as it looks. Jesus at the Last Supper revealed some startling information. Jesus told Peter that before the cock crowed, Peter would deny him three times. When Peter heard this, he could not believe his ears, and assured Jesus he would not deny him. The other revelation Jesus shared was that one of the disciples would betray him. As the events unfolded, Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and Peter denied Jesus three times. Both Peter and Judas showed remorse for their choices. Judas tried to give the money back to the Pharisees, and Peter cried like a baby.
Most human beings feel guilty when they have done something to hurt or disappoint someone. However, there are a few who are considered sociopaths, and have no feelings of remorse. We can say that Judas was not a sociopath. In the end, he was sorry about the consequences of his actions. Often times, like Judas and Peter, we do not begin to feel guilty and apologetic until after we have done the wrong thing or someone has caught us. While we are in the midst of doing the act or before we think we have been discovered, we reflect very little on the consequences, including feelings of shame and guilt. When guilt and shame finally surface, it is the time we need Jesus the most, and he knows it. These emotions are dangerous and can prove fatal like they did with Judas if we do not find the path to forgiveness, redemption, and grace. Peter found the way, and Jesus forgave him. Judas’ guilt became so overwhelming that he believed there was no way forward, and he hung himself from a tree.
There are many Judas-types who have become so overwhelmed with their imperfections, that they cannot see their potential for perfection, and give up on life. Living under the mantle of guilt and shame is not living. The devil is good at convincing so many that they cannot be forgiven. The devil is a liar. No matter what any of us have done, we can be forgiven. Sin does not have to kill. In fact, it can make us live again, just like Peter, if we believe that in the name of Jesus Christ we are forgiven.