Lesson 2

The Betrayers: Peter and Judas

(Matthew 17, 26 and John 6, 12, 13, 18)
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Introduction: Both Peter and Judas betrayed Jesus. One went on to fame and glory in the Christian church and the other to suicide, derision and contempt. Why? Was it because Judas killed himself before he repented? Let's jump into our study about the two betrayers and find out!

  1. The Disciples

    1. Why do you think the disciples chose to follow Jesus?

    2. We have some clues about their motivation. Read John 6:5-12. What happened here? Anything supernatural?

      1. If you were going to make someone King or General How would this fit into your plan?

      2. In the book and the movie "Left Behind," a breakthrough in food production gives Israel a leadership position in the world. Is this John 6 miracle the same idea?

        1. Do you think that was Jesus' reason for performing this miracle? He wanted to be hailed as the new leader?

    3. Let's read the reaction to this miracle. Read John 6:14-16. What did the people decide to do? What steps did Jesus take to prevent it?

      1. Did the disciples have a role in this? John doesn't tell us the entire story. Let's read Matthew 14:21-23. Why did Jesus "make" the disciples get in the boat and dismiss the crowd? (Because the disciples were no doubt ringleaders in this plan to make Jesus "King by force" ( John 6:15).

    4. Let's read a few other texts that open a window on the thinking of the disciples: Luke 22:24-26. Matthew 16:21-23 and Acts 1:6. What do you think the disciples thought was in Jesus' future here? What would be their role in this future?

    5. Do you remember the story of the "Rich Young Ruler?" The disciples were astonished when Jesus said it was difficult for a rich man to enter heaven ( Matthew 19:24-25). Let's pick up the dialog at this point by reading Matthew 19:27-28. What would you think about your future on earth if you were one of the disciples who heard these words? (My bet is they thought "the renewal of all things" was when Jesus would overthrow the Romans! They were then going to have thrones and authority. They would be like the Senators of Rome - only more powerful! Think of that! A fisherman becomes a Senator. That would keep their daydreams filled!)

    6. Let's turn next to individual plans.

  2. Judas

    1. Read John 13:29. Would you pick someone that you distrusted to be the treasurer of your church?

      1. What does the fact that Judas "had charge of the money" show us about the disciples' attitude towards him?

      2. There is an interesting little book entitled "Christ's Cabinet" by William McIntyre (Salvation Army pub.)which says that Judas was raised on the boarder of the Sinai desert while the other disciples came from the area around the Sea of Galilee. That meant that he had a different accent than the rest. It also meant that he was likely to have the "hard work, no nonsense" attitude of a farmer. The rest of the disciples, being fishermen, would likely have the "hard work-hard play" attitude of those who do very dangerous jobs. Can you see why the disciples would think Judas would be a good treasurer, even though he was an "outsider?"

      3. Since we have learned the general attitude of the disciples, what do you think Judas thought the future held for him in light of his current position? (He would be in charge of the treasury of the new kingdom!)

    2. Read John 12:4-6. Was Judas trustworthy?

      1. With this background on Judas' performance as treasurer of the little money they had, what do you think were his plans when he became the treasurer of the new kingdom? (He would become fabulously wealthy!)

    3. If you read Matthew 10 you will find that Judas, as one of the twelve disciples, was sent out on a "student disciple" mission. Let's read part of the disciples marching orders in Matthew 10:7-8.

      1. Do you think Judas also did those things?

      2. If you could get into Judas' conscience, what would you find? (I think you would find a fellow who was struggling. He was greedy, but he was also pulled to Jesus by what he heard and what he did as a "student.")

    4. Let's read a story about Judas and Jesus. Read John 12:1-5. What do you think about Judas' objection? Does he have a point?

      1. What are a year's wages today?

      2. What would you say if a member spent $25,000 (USD) on cologne for your pastor? What if the church got to vote on this - would the church vote for the cologne or new pews?

    5. Let's read on: John 12:6-8. We discussed the v. 6 problem earlier. What would be your reaction to Jesus if you were Judas? (First, I would be upset about being publically rebuked by Jesus. Second, I would be annoyed about the loss of the money. Last, and worst, Jesus' comment about His "burial" and not being there in the future fit into His other worrisome talk about dying.)

    6. Read Matthew 26:14-15. What do you think about Judas "Let's make a deal" approach? What does this tell us about Judas' attitude?

    7. All of this comes to a conclusion in Matthew 27:1-5. Let's read it and concentrate on the dialog in verse 4.

      1. Why would Judas say that he had "betrayed innocent blood?"

      2. What did he think would happen? Isn't this exactly what the plan had been - to betray innocent blood?

      3. Why would he give the money back? Wasn't the money the goal? (I think money was the goal - but a lot more than 30 silver coins! If you consider the disciples' goal for the future, and Judas' probable goal, it would make no sense to betray Jesus for 30 silver coins. I think Judas thought he was smarter than Jesus. That by "betraying" Jesus, Judas would "force" Jesus to defend Himself, make His move and become King. It backfired. Jesus did not defend Himself. He did not rally the troops. He did not use supernatural power to overcome the opposition. He took His death sentence without a fight. Suddenly, Judas realized that he was not smarter than Jesus, he had simply "betrayed innocent blood." His life goals came to an end and he killed himself.)

      4. Where did Judas go wrong? What was the nature of his sin? (Pride, arrogance, greed, dishonesty.)

  3. Peter

    1. Read Matthew 26:30-35. What does Peter mean when he says "even if all fall away on account of you" I won't? (This seems to suggest Jesus might be the cause for others leaving.)

      1. How would you put this in today's language? (No matter what you do or others do to you, I will be faithful!

      2. How loyal was Peter to Jesus?

      3. Why would Peter say he was more loyal than the rest? Why not just talk about his own loyalty?

    2. Read John 18:1-3. Imagine you saw this mob at night in a park. How would you feel? (It would be a frightening sight. If you knew they were coming for you, it would be worse.)

    3. Let's read on: John 18:4-8, 10. Jesus gave the disciples a chance to run in verse 8, right? Did Peter run?

      1. Was Peter showing courage?

      2. Did Peter keep his word that he was willing to die?

        1. Do you think Peter was willing to die?

        2. If you think Peter was willing to die, how did his name get into this lesson? How does this "loyal to death" fellow get called a "betrayer?"

    4. Let's skip down in this chapter and read on. Read John 18:15-17. Peter meets a female "bouncer" at the door, and she wants to keep out any disciples. How would you justify what Peter said? Could he have had a positive motive for this? (He could have said to himself, I need to be in there to encourage Jesus, therefore I will lie to get in.)

    5. Read John 18:18-19. Do you think Peter could hear the questioning? What would be your reaction if you were a disciple and you heard the High Priest questioning Jesus (v.19) "about his disciples?"

      1. Would that show the High Priest was not just interested in Jesus, but also interested in His disciples?

      2. Who else is standing by this fire with Peter?

    6. Read John 18:25-27. Why do you think Peter denied Jesus this time? Could he have any excuse this time? (I think Peter was afraid. He was full of courage before there was any trouble. He was still willing to fight when he was with Jesus. But now Jesus had been arrested, He was being tried and He did not seem to be resisting. The High Priest was asking about Jesus' disciples and "officials" were standing by the fire with Peter. I believe Peter felt alone and that he believed he would be arrested and perhaps executed.)

    7. Has that ever happened to you? You speak boldly about faith and courage to others who are sick or dying - but when it happens to you or your family, it becomes a different, more difficult, matter?

  4. The Difference

    1. How would you compare the betrayal of Judas with that of Peter?

      1. Is fear a lesser sin than pride and greed?

      2. Our lesson says (Wednesday) that Judas had the wrong type of repentance. Judas was so upset about things that he killed himself. Peter was just upset. Is there any basis in the Bible for the lesson's suggestion that Judas was insincere?

        1. If Judas had not killed himself, do you think he would have repented and returned as a disciple?

    2. As many of you know, I have long taught that righteousness and sin turn on our attitude. Compare for me the attitudes of Judas and Peter? (This is where I think the matter becomes clear. Peter's attitude was to be with and defend Jesus. He was puffed up and proud in his estimation of his own loyalty, but his attitude was to be loyal (even though it turned out he was weak). Judas, on the other hand, had the "what's in it for me" attitude. This was compounded by his pride and his arrogance that he was smarter than Jesus about what should be done. If you are into religion because of the money or the blessings, and you think you know better than God's Word, these are killer attitudes. If Judas had lived, I do not think he would have wanted the self-sacrificing life of the apostles. (See 1 Peter 5:1-4) For that reason, the lesson is correct to say Judas did not truly repent.)

    3. Friend, what is your attitude today? Are you loyal, but weak? Or, are you proud and self-centered? It is not too late to have Jesus change your attitude! The question is, are you willing?

  5. Next Week: Grace Under Pressure - Noah and Job

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