After What Has Been Done

Apr 12, 2020

“The most important thing may not be what we do but what we do after what we have done.” Dr. Garry Landreth

Dr. Landreth’s quote stuck out to me while watching one of his videos in graduate school. While all of our choices are important, after a choice has been made, the next choice becomes more important. We’ve all made wise choices and we’ve all made foolish choices. What’s important is making the next choice a wise choice. With it being Easter weekend I wanted to take a look at a couple of scenarios that took place during the time that we celebrate.

First, let’s look at Judas’ situation. Matthew 26:14-16 says “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, ‘How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.” In Matthew 27:3-5 we are told “When Judas, who had betrayed Him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he declared, ‘for I have betrayed an innocent man.’”

Here is what Peter had going on at the same time. Luke 22:54-62 “So they arrested Jesus and led Him to the high priest’s home. And Peter followed at a distance. The guards lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter joined them there. A servant girl noticed him in the firelight and began staring at him. Finally she said, ‘This man was one of Jesus’ followers!’ But Peter denied it. ‘Woman,’ he said, ‘I don’t even know him!’ After a while someone else looked at him and said, ‘You must be one of them!’ ‘No, man, I’m not!’ Peter retorted. About an hour later someone else insisted, ‘This must be one of them, because he is a Galilean, too.’ But Peter said, ‘Man, I don’t know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. At that moment the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Suddenly, the Lord’s words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And Peter left the courtyard, weeping bitterly.”

Both Judas and Peter turned their back on Jesus. Judas’ motivation was financial gain while Peter was concerned about his reputation, physical well-being or both. At this point, Judas was filled with remorse and Peter was weeping bitterly. These aren’t descriptions for people who didn’t care. Judas and Peter are both devastated by what they had done, but these two situations take drastically different turns at this point.

John 20:1-8 “Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’ Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed”

What did Peter do after what he had done? After denying Jesus three times, we find him running to the tomb on day three. What did Judas do after what he had done? Matthew 27:5 tells us he hung himself after he brought the 30 pieces of silver back to the religious leaders.

Judas and Peter are the two disciples that we normally think about when it comes to the crucifixion, but all of the other disciples abandoned Jesus as well. Over 2,000 years later, it’s easy for us to question their actions. I’m sure they all felt some combination of shame, confusion, anger, fear, disappointment, and regret during this time. All of these emotions were eliminated in the coming days for everyone except Judas. The other 11 experienced the hope of the resurrected Christ. John is believed to be the only one not martyred for spreading Jesus word. How did the same guys who abandoned Jesus live with such boldness? What they did after what they had done was possible because of what Jesus did after what He had done. Jesus dying on the cross is of great importance only because He left the tomb three days later.

What have we done? We’ve all sinned. We all fall short of the standard Jesus set for us. What do we do after what we’ve done? Sometimes we deny our sin. Sometimes we rationalize it. Sometimes we isolate ourselves from those trying to hold us accountable. Sometimes we embrace the sin. Sometimes we feel like we’ve messed up too much. Sometimes we feel like we will never overcome our struggle. Sometimes we believe those who have given up on us. Sometimes we lose hope. These are all different ways to do the wrong thing. Repentance is the only correct way to deal with sin. It is what we must do after what we have done.

What are you struggling with? What has you feeling defeated? Are you isolating yourself? Have you lost hope? Have you repented? 2 Corinthians 7:10 says “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 

We can deal with our sorrow in worldly ways like Judas or we can be like Peter and run to the tomb. Don’t allow past sin to hold you back. Don’t continue in current sin. All of our foolishness can be wiped away. What He did, leaving the tomb, after what He had done, dying on the cross, is the reason we can have hope.

His mercy is enough. “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23

Focus on the future. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,” Philippians 3:12-13

What about things we didn’t choose? What happens when we lose our job, our spouse leaves us, a loved one passes away, our parents divorce, we get a bad report from the doctor, or a virus spreads around the world? What do we do after the air is sucked out of the room? We can give up on life like Judas or we can persevere like Peter. Giving up is never the answer.

We may all be in different stages of life, but we are all in the most important stage of our life. Let’s live like what we do is more important than what we’ve done. Don’t give up. Let’s persevere like Peter.