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The Choice Between Life and Death

And Peter remembered.

He remembered the words Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”

And he went outside and cried like a baby.

                               Matthew 26:75

It's hard for me not to love Peter for his bravery, zeal, and commitment. But Peter’s brokenness is his most winsome moment.

I have always identified with Peter: zealous, bold, and committed. But it wasn't until I also identified with Peter’s brokenness that the anointing of the Holy Spirit began to flow through my life in earnest.

I love this phrase: “cried like a baby.” At this point in his journey, Peter was no longer inhibited by pride because he had none left. Peter cared not for his dignity because he was all-in with Jesus, and now that it appeared that Jesus met his doom, Peter lost everything too. What is the use of dignity when your life is over? Peter’s tears reveal his faith and commitment to Jesus and Yahweh and his helplessness to do anything without them.

Judas showed remorse for his betrayal and hung himself. Peter showed repentance and wept. Judas hung himself because he had confidence in himself but not in God. Peter didn't kill himself because, though Peter lost faith in himself, he still had faith in God.

Suicide is an attempt by humans to condemn God. Suicide says there is no hope (a charge of failure for a good God.) Suicide says that the creation of the world was a mistake. As GK Chesterton pointed out, “the murderer kills a man, but the suicide kills the world.” Judas’ suicide was a brutal act of unbelief and a charge of “failure” against God the creator.

Throughout Israel’s history, there have been many ups and downs. Israel was delivered from Egypt but wandered in the desert. Israel entered the promised land, but “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” King David captured and established Jerusalem and laid the groundwork for the temple. Solomon built the temple but then lost the unity of the Kingdom. Israel went into captivity, and the temple was demolished, but it was miraculously brought back to their land and rebuilt the temple. In all these things and more, the remnant of Israel never lost faith that God would do what He promised despite all appearances. The remnant of Israel demonstrated resilient faith expressed in many places but especially in the Psalms:

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”   Psalm 42:11

Psalms 42, 43, & 44 each express deep frustration and even accusation against God because of the sorrows of Israel. Yet, each of these Psalms ends with a resolve to worship and a confession of faith: “Yet, shall I praise you.”

God can handle our anger and accusation. God is not afraid of our questions and challenges. But whoa to use if we condemn God! Why? The danger isn't in making God so angry that He has to kill us. The danger is that we might kill ourselves! Judas had no faith in God; therefore, when Judas’ strength ran out, he offed himself. Judas was the be-all, end-all of his hope, which was his mistake. Judas’ suicide demonstrated that he lacked faith in Yahweh, which is the cardinal sin of humanity.

Peter said in his heart, “I don't understand what is happening. The world is falling apart. All seems lost...” But Peter did not despair because he did not lean on his understanding but on the promises of Yahweh. Peter considered that he could be wrong about Jesus but never about Yahweh. Somehow, some way, Yahweh would be faithful. And Peter’s attitude was consistent with that of the Psalmist, “yet shall I praise you.” Peter’s faith would be vindicated in three days, while Judas would remain dead forever.

Notice the stark contrast between Peter, the man of faith, and Judas, the man of pride. Whether to believe in God is a matter of life and death.

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster.”

Deuteronomy 30:15 NLT

Will you trust in the Lord, like Peter, upon

whom (among the other disciples) God has built His Church? Or will you be like Judas, trusting only in your strength?

“choose this day whom you will serve,” Joshua 24:15

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