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Relevant Passages: Matt. 26:69-75; Matt. 27:1-10

Judas and Peter: According to Matthew’s Gospel, the developing scenes of Jesus’ trial have quite an unexpected effect on two of his disciples. In Matthew 26:69-75, the confident Peter backs away from his convictions, denies his Lord three times, then goes out and weeps bitterly. By contrast, the verses that immediately follow, Matthew 27:1-10, describe how the unfolding drama strikes terror to the calculating Judas. Scripture says that he “repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.'” When the priests rejected his plea, he cast down the pieces of silver, went out and hanged himself.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How was it possible that Peter could be restored to favor when he failed at the crucial moment, but Judas was rejected when he repented at virtually the same point in time?
  2. Leaving questions of “eternal salvation” aside for the moment, what can we learn from these two men in their experiences with Jesus prior to that fatal moment in Jesus’ trial? Was Peter obviously destined for leadership and Judas for failure?
  3. Based on the Gospel accounts, how would we assess Peter’s successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses? Here was someone who could curse (Matt. 26:74), act violently (John 18:10), and turn coward (Luke 22:57). Was he a good candidate for a place among Jesus’ elite?
  4. Based on the Gospel account, how would we assess Judas’s successes and failures? Here was someone who was the treasurer for the disciples (John 12:6), yet revealed a covetous streak in complaining about the extravagant cost of the perfume (John 12:4-6) and in bargaining to sell Jesus for money (Matt.26:14-16). Was it possible for Judas to be salvaged? Was there a point of no return?
  5. Why was it possible for Peter to be restored but not Judas? Or in both cases are we seeing simply the human out-working of sin without any explicit statement about eternal destiny?
  6. From the lives of these two men, what can we learning about our own failures and the possibility of restoration when we fail? Is Jesus’ handling of Peter in John 21:15-23 instructive for us today?

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