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The Heart That Fails
by Dennis Crawford

    Judas seemed to be a scoundrel from the beginning. He filched from the money bag, betrayed Jesus and fulfilled prophecy while plunging into infamy. In self-righteous moments I imagine Judas with shifty eyes, a pointed goatee and other unmistakable features I suppose a sociopath should have.

    Yet, Judas may have looked a lot like you—and me.

    At any rate, he did betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. But soon the money turned into a cold hard knot in his money bag. So he threw down the handful of silver and headed out to his tree. It would be his last walk. The Bible says Judas repented. But not really. Remorse was what he felt. He was sorry for the chain of events his kiss had started but not sorry enough to turn back to Jesus and take another look at the Savior. Given the nature of his crime and knowing something of his character, his self-inflicted death seemed inevitable. Still, I wonder—would one more look from Jesus have spared his neck from the noose?

    We’ll never know. The gruesome epilogue of his life read, “With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out.” (Acts 1:18)

    Then there’s Peter. The night before Jesus’ death he betrayed—in a way—Jesus too. For free. No money changed hands. A passive betrayal—but a betrayal nonetheless. As Jesus was being tried, a member of the crowd around the courtyard fire identified him as a disciple of Jesus. Peter lied, “I don’t know the man.”He was scared, faithless and gutless—a poor excuse for a disciple. One disclaimer of his discipleship wasn’t enough. When pressed a third time he underlined his denial with, “@+*%$# ##*%$#@ didn’t I tell you I don’t know him!”

Judas and Peter had a lot in common.
    Like Judas, Peter walked, too. His sorrow is seen in his tears. But before he went, he and Jesus shared a knowing look. A look on Peter’s part which could have said, “You were right after all—I did disown you, didn’t I?”

    Jesus’ look may have said, “Yes. I saw it coming. I’m hurt. You denied me—but I’m not through with you yet.” Maybe Peter’s last look made all the difference in his future his eternity.

    Judas and Peter had a lot in common. They both sinned and walked away. Both suffered shame. Judas, however, walked out to a lonely tree and a rope. His career, his apostleship, his life ended with a neck-breaking jerk. Peter staggered out of the courtyard blinded by his tears and cried his eyes out. Later Jesus restored him to the inner circle of his disciples. His walk away from Jesus was only temporary.

    In your life as a Christian, have you ever had to choose whether to stay with Jesus amid the embarrassment of sin and failure or to walk out into the world’s noose? Has it happened once, maybe? Twice? Weekly? Daily? Maybe you’re deciding right now.

    Perhaps some Christians will live a lifetime and never have to take the walk Peter and Judas took. Bless them. I am not of that blissful group. Not once, but a few times I’ve put myself in that position.

    It can happen to anyone. Someday, even though we have the best intentions, sin, pride and failure can overtake us. In our shame and confusion we may find ourselves walking away from the Lord, his church and his people. The question, “Should I stay away or return and face the music?” which would have sounded insane just a few days ago may suddenly become a valid question. It has to be answered. Then is the time for that last, life-giving look.

    At that time, no matter how many prophecies of our faithlessness are coming true, no matter if we come to our senses doing the very thing we said we’d never do, no matter how many roosters crow, may we take that last look at Jesus. And in that look somehow feel God’s readiness to forgive and to restore us in spite our sinful, embarrassing predicament. I that look you may hear Jesus say, “I’m not through with you, whatever you did, I’m not through with you. I loved you enough to die for you—please stay.”

    Remember. One more look. It can make all the difference.


HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
Copyright © 1999, Dennis Crawford. Used by permission.