Introduction: Types of Sorrow.
Years ago, when I first began in pastoral ministry, I was greatly confused by some reactions I was noticing. I would see people deeply overwhelmed by the sinful things they had done. People would literally break down bitterly crying over their sin or failures. I would think I had a break through with someone, but moments, days, or weeks later they would blaming others for their sin, become defensive, prideful, evasive, dismissive and much more.
Today I want to share some of the things I learned during those seasons. And one of these things I learned is heat or pressure reveals character. When times get difficult times we learn who we really are—others see who we really are. All the disciples are facing a very difficult time and the pressure is growing. What the disciples truly believe is about to be put to the test. In the verses we are looking at today the author narrows in on one of the disciples, Peter. Based on the past two weeks I think we need to compare Peter and Judas. What I hope we will see from their two responses to Jesus is…
Theme: We will only flourish when we recognize real repentance.
1. The Power of Presumptuous Personalities—John 13.36-38.
The NT doesn’t tell us a lot about Judas. As far as I can tell, Judas is a quiet guy who stays in the background. Being a finance guy that makes sense, that is how many of them seem to be. But like many quiet people, they are quiet because they have something extremely profound to share or they are plotting something dangerous. Judas falls into the latter category.
The NT has A LOT to say about Peter’s personality. Some of the attributes that seem to mark Peter’s life are he is bold, charismatic, impulsive, confident, strong willed, passionate, leader, and a man of deep conviction. Many of us might be tempted to associate these personality traits as less desirable or Christian, but I do not believe the Bible sees these traits as “Not Christian.” I think these are just attributes that God has given to Peter and they can be used for God’s glory like any other personality trait.
We can see the manifestation of these attributes in our verses today—READ John 13.36-37. Peter BOLDLY proclaims he is willing to DIE with. I think Peter meant this. If you skip ahead and read John 18, you will read that Peter tried to fight an entire group of soldiers to prevent the arrest of Jesus. Even though Peter makes the declaration he is willing to die Jesus still tells him that will not be the case—READ John 13.38. What Jesus understands is Peter has an inflated view of himself and his abilities. Simply put Peter is presumptuous.
I love the OT image of what it means to be presumptuous—it uses the image of being “stiff necked.” Moses referred to Israel as being a stiff-necked people. We are stiff-necked or presumptuous when we have an inflated view of our understanding of the world, the Bible, or ourselves. Peter thought his self-will, boldness, and convictions were strong enough to carry out what he believed to be right. Jesus tells him he is wrong.
I am a supporter of personality surveys, spiritual gift surveys, idol charts, feedback from others or any other tool that can help us better understand ourselves, but they all MUST submit to Christ’s assessment of us. When we elevate a test, a chart, our personality, or anything else above what Christ says about us the power of our presumptions will lead us toward the path of sin. Peter’s presumptuous view of himself, and so did Judas. PRIDE made them stick-necked. Proverbs 16.18 warns us that “pride comes before the fall.”
2. Recognizing Real Repentance—II Corinthians 7.8-10.
At this point Jesus has revealed to two key disciples how their presumptuous personalities are going to get them into trouble. Both Judas and Peter will betray Jesus. Both of these men followed Jesus, got exclusive teaching from Jesus, saw miraculous signs from Jesus, and were even given warnings to turn from their sin. Both men betrayed and abandoned Jesus. Both deeply grieved Jesus and multiplied the pain on His soul. Both men were deeply grieved by what they had done. But it is in their response to these things that we start to see RADICAL differences.
At the beginning of our time today I spoke with you about these two types of sorrows we find in our experience. When you live life long enough you run into them, but they can be confusing to navigate. What I didn’t tell you was a couple of my pastor friends and biblical counselors helped better understand this confusion by having me look at a certain passage— READ II Corinthians 7.8-10.
I think what Paul describes here is the difference we see in Peter and Judas. One is consumed with godly sorrow and the other is consumed with worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow is marked by a repentance that leads to salvation. This means godly sorrow will result in things like holiness, justice, love, peace, mercy, reconciliation, restoration and general godly flourishing. Worldly sorrow is marked by death. The book of Romans tells us the wages of sin is death. Sin brings about decay, destruction, divisions, wrath, and all other matters of the flesh.
We know from Matthew 26 that Peter wept bitterly over his sin. But Peter sought forgiveness for His sins, and loving mercy of Christ transformed him into a different man. I mentioned earlier how pressure reveals character. Well Peter faced another high pressure situation like this one but look how responds this time:
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”—Acts 4.18-20
In Matthew 27 we see Judas regrets what he has done to Jesus. When he has to deal with the consequences of his sinful choices he is so consumed with guilt that takes his own life. Paul tells us later in II Corinthians 7 that godly sorrow produces real repentance and eagerness for the things of God. One type of sorrow will appear like it is genuine, but as time goes on it reveals that it is not from God. The person is not sorrowful they have hurt God but they regret their sins are costing them something they don’t want. Whereas a godly sorrow falls desperately before the LORD ready to face the consequences of their sin, and receive God’s ever-loving mercy and grace. Peter’s godly sorrow deflated his view of himself and inflated His confidence in the LORD. But Judas worldly continued his inflated view of himself and led to his own destruction. Worldly sorrow is full of pride and consumed with self, but godly sorrow is marked by humility and is sacrificially pursues the joy of God and others.