Topic: Is There Life Beyond Our Mistake?
1. Some case studies.
(a) Judas. For a long time, Judas looked good on paper. Peter tells us that he was “numbered” with us and obtained a part in this ministry. (Acts 1:17). Judas had a good position as far as the arithmetic of the matter was concerned. But something went terribly wrong where Judas was concerned, and he closed out his life by betraying Christ. We are not certain just why Judas made the mistake of betraying Christ. Perhaps Judas knew his inner doubts, his lack of faith, and was driven at last by a conscience that was tormented so that he sought to destroy what he had felt to be that which troubled his conscience.
(b) Simon Peter. But look for a moment at the mistake of Simon Peter. He, along the rest of the disciples, deserted Christ the night of the arrest. His hands were not exactly lily white when he stood up, mentioned the mistakes of Judas, and suggested that a successor must be named.
(c) The church. The early church joined Peter in making mistakes, and the church since that time has made mistakes. One way of writing the history of the church could be in terms of mistakes it has made. Although many would justly disagree, I tend to agree with G. Campbell Morgan that the early church began by electing the wrong person as the twelth apostle! His belief is that God had Paul in mind all along as the one to replace Judas. As I read Acts, I’m not all all sure that the Lord intended the church to immediately fill the vacancy left by Judas.
But impulsive Peter quoted the OT passage that indicated there would be one whose position needed to be filled, and immediately Peter set forth the qualifications he felt were necessary. Although the church prayed, asking the Lord’s leadership, they gave him people from which to choose, a man named Joseph and another named Mathias. Then they made their decision by casting lots. Whether or not the church made a mistake in that instance, the history of the church is filled with mistakes. Even in the early days of the apostles, they made the mistake of supposing that God was interested only in saving the Jews, not the rest of the world. And after the first few centuries, the church gave up the missionary process as the Lord commanded it to be carried out until in recent centuries that has been regained again. In the meantime the church has condoned slavery and used Scripture to justify prejudice. Yet the church goes on, accomplishing nothing less than the miraculous work of God, proving that there is life beyond mistakes.
II Critical areas. Even people trying their best to follow Christ in faith and obedience will make mistakes, natural mistakes. But some mistakes are “terminal” if allowed to run their course because they concern the total direction of life. They are to two key word used in the account of Judas that point out these critical areas.
(a) The direction of life. Peter said of Judas that he had “become a guide to those who arrested Jesus” (1:16). The word translated “guide” literally means one who follows a certain path or way. One of the basic mistakes of Judas was that although he walked with Christ physically, apparently he did not do so in spirit. He walked along the same road. To let Christ determine the direction of your life is to be on the way he set forth.
(b) Estate. Quoting Ps.69:25, Simon Peter applied it to Judas: “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no one live in it.” The word “habitation” is literally the word which means “estate.” Christ offered Judas an eternal estate, but Judas choose to do his own estate planning. Your estate in the eyes of God has to do with the treasure you decide to build up in this brief life on earth. Jesus indicated we should make certain we are building up treasures in heaven where nothing can touch them. In contrast, Judas apparently saw only earthly position and power and treasures. Therefore he misused the office which Christ offered him, the position he had as one of the Twelve, and someone else would have to be chosen who wanted such as estate.
II Going beyond mistakes to life. As we note how Judas made mistakes about the way he faced his mistakes, we will notice that Simon Peter responded in a different manner and found life beyond his mistakes.
(a) Confess them to Christ. When we make mistakes, we should not hide from God, not drop out of church, but take our mistakes to Christ in honest confession. Though Peter denied Christ, he returned to stand at the foot of the cross. Later, though he had thrown it all in to go back to his fishing business, he ultimately fell at the feet of Christ and affirmed his unworthiness. Judas also was filled with regret, but he did not tell Christ, he did not confess his regret. He told the people who had bribed him, even attempting to return the money. But he made no attempt at confession.
(b) Don’t give up on Christ. Judas tried to manipulate Christ, to force his hand, and he failed. At that point he gave up on Christ. He saw only the pain, the death, and the blood. He didn’t bother to wait for a possible resurrection. As far as he was concerned, Christ had let him down!
In contrast, Peter and the other apostles waited. They did not understand, but they did not give up on Christ. As long as God is alive, there is hope. We dare not give up on him. And in thier waiting , the disciples beheld the resurrection.
(c) Don’t give up on yourself. Judas not only gave up on Christ, but he gave up on himself and on the life as a whole. He saw no future. And so he took his own life. The world is filled with people who arrive at the same conclusion as Judas. Many do not take take their own life but choose to go on in a kind of living death wherein they entomb themselves in an effort to keep out all other people, all risks, all love, and all responsibility. They determine never to make a mistake again, never caring caring again, never risking again.
(d) Allow God’s grace to redeem your mistakes. Christ is the business of redeeming our mistakes. He transforms them. He overcomes them. He adds later chapters to them that allow us to go on and leave them behind. He brings us to life beyond our mistakes.