Yesterday I created a Twitter poll, with results here:
First of all, I hoped it was obvious that I meant Peter’s denial versus Judas’s betrayal. Angela Georgantas makes a great point here:
Indeed, if we are comparing Judas’s ultimate despair toward the mercy of God, then he is the king sinner in this matchup, but in fact I’m comparing denial and betrayal. In that regard, Angela is correct: “Judas’s great sin wasn’t betraying Jesus” — and I would contend, Judas’s betrayal was nowhere as serious as Peter’s denial of Jesus.
1) Sin, in its two forms of commission and omission, is greater or lesser in God’s eyes according to the person and circumstances of the sin.
2) The central factor in a sin’s degree is the awareness, consciousness, and general culpability of the person who is guilty.
3) Peter was the Lord’s closest friend for over three years. Peter received the most acute, direct grace of any man who has ever lived. He was one of three whom Jesus chose to go with Him to the mount of transfiguration. Peter saw and heard things from the peerless life and mouth of Jesus that no one else (except in some cases James and John) ever saw or heard. Judas was snoring in the tall grass while Peter was readying tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.
4) Peter’s culpability in sin, therefore, was far greater than Judas’s.
5) Judas never understood the person and ministry of Jesus. He stole money from Jesus—enough said?
6) Judas’s sin was born from greed and possibly a rabid patriotism. Peter’s was born from utter unbelief in the power and grace of Jesus. Peter estimated his life as more important than Jesus’ life, and this even after he had received the true knowledge of who Jesus was. Judas was never said to have this enlightenment from the Father.
7) Therefore, Peter’s denial of Jesus was a high-handed, bold, open-faced repudiation of his best friend, the Son of the living God. Judas’s betrayal was the normal, greedy, shortsighted sin of an impatient fool.
So tell me, my friends, whose was the greater sin? I will say this—my sin as a Christian—my sin as a well-educated, deeply privileged Western Christian is far greater and more heinous than all the sins of the lost people in this world. If I were left to my guilt on Judgment Day, I would be the most miserable in hell of all people, and I deserve such.
For Peter, and for me, our only hope is the radical and total forgiveness of our sin; past, present, and future. If God has not imputed the entire, perfect righteousness of Jesus to the accounts of Peter and Adam Kane, then we are of all men the most to be tormented.
Thanks be to God, who has opened His own heart for the world, who has bled and died in my place, and for me became a man to forgive my sins and make me a son in the house with Peter, with whom I share a guilt so much greater and deeper than Judas’s.
I think we knee-jerk toward Judas because we tend to account sin according to the outward effect, not the inward person.
What do you think? I purposely left out Bible references in this post, because I want discussion in the comments where if you disagree you can force me to defend my thesis.
Love in Jesus Christ,