Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: STAND UP FOR JESUS (don't write about the song) (04/09/15)
TITLE: If Only He Would Have Hung On Until Sunday
By Lollie Hofer
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The agony of his betrayal was more than he could bear. Ripping his clothes he continued to lay prostrate in the dirt. For a split-second he thought the unimaginable. “Why not end it now?” he screamed at the trees in the garden. “It’s over. They’re going to kill him. I could see it in their blood-thirsty eyes.”
Peter didn’t know how long he had been down on the ground but when he looked up, the sun was just peeking over the hills.
Unbeknown to Peter, another soul was deep in remorse as well. Soon after Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane with that fateful kiss, he realized what the chief priests and elders had planned for Jesus. He realized too late they wanted to kill him.
**Early in the morning while climbing a tree in a secluded area of the garden, Judas raised his trembling voice to heaven. “Oh God, I’ve sinned. I’ve betrayed innocent blood. I tried to give back the thirty silver coins but they didn’t want them.”
Taking a rope from inside his tunic, he wrapped one end around the branch of a tree. He then tied the other end tightly around his neck.
“They said I was fully responsible for betraying Jesus. Oh, God, it’s too late to stop what I’ve put into motion. They are going to kill him and I can’t do one thing to help. I know it’s too late for me as well. I’m so sorry.”
With that he slid from the tree branch, his body dangling several feet above the ground. He didn’t even struggle; succumbing to what he felt was his rightful punishment.
This, of course, is the story of the two well-known betrayers. Both are forever intertwined in the Easter story: One betrayed Jesus with a kiss while the other denied Him three times. Both failed Jesus miserably. Neither had enough back-bone to stand up for Jesus and do what was right. Both were remorseful for what they had done. Neither could change the outcome of their actions.
About six years into my marriage, I willfully walked away from my relationship with the Lord denying my Savior and Lord with my horrific, sinful lifestyle. It’s not necessary to go into details about my life back then because it’s not about how bad I was as much as it is about how great God’s grace is. Even though I didn’t deserve the Father’s forgiveness nor His grace or mercy, He extended it the moment I came to my senses and cried out to Him. My husband, though devastated by what I had done, also forgave me. Miraculously, we have been married for 38 years.
Not meaning to shock anyone, I understand Judas Iscariot’s actions in committing suicide. In the restoration process of trying to save the marriage, there were times when I had to grip the steering wheel with all my strength and will myself to stay on the road. I knew of every steep embankment between my house and work which would have quickly ended my life, if I had chosen to do so.
In reference to Peter, my pastor said something powerful this past Easter: Betrayal doesn’t have to be fatal. It would’ve applied to Judas Iscariot too...if only he would have hung on until Sunday, then the scriptures might have read a little different.
“But go, tell his disciples, Peter and Judas Iscariot, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as He told you!” Luke 22:31-32 (Judas emphasis mine)
There’s no doubt that if Judas had still been alive, God’s grace and mercy would have been extended to him. I know this isn’t for every reader. However, if you’re one of those prodigal children who struggle with a fallen past, I’ve got glorious news for you. Today, Father God desires to completely restore you into His family once again. I believe God’s Love and grace are bigger than your betrayal and sin. It’s not about how bad you are; it’s about how great His grace is. Today is your “Sunday.”
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