President’s Post – April 2023

President's Posts > President’s Post – April 2023

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have [c]fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

Our entire faith rests on what we celebrate this weekend. If this event did not happen, then we are wasting our time and are to be, as Paul stated, “the most pitiable” of all people. But if it did, it changes everything.

In the midst of events leading up to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we find two people who play significant roles in that drama: Peter and Judas. Both play the imperfect follower of Jesus, one seduced by the siren call of money, the other social acceptance. I find these two individuals to be absolutely fascinating. I also find them representative of sinners who deal with their sin in diametrically different ways. On the one hand, you have Judas Iscariot, the disciple of Jesus who betrays him for 30 pieces of silver. When confronted with his sin, he responds with despair:

When Judas, who betrayed Him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders. “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood”…So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:3-5)

Then there is Peter and his response to being confronted with his sin of denying Jesus three times just as Jesus had predicted:

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74-75)

Both of these individuals were crushed with the reality of their sin, but their responses differed greatly. Judas, operating out of a position and worldview of despair and hopelessness, cannot bear the weight of his betrayal and decides to end his own life. Even though he had walked with Christ for three years, a firsthand witness to the incredible life of our Savior as He healed the sick, fed the crowds, raised people from the dead, conquered the elements, and revealed Himself as the Son of God, there was ultimately no understanding of what Jesus was doing. Instead of falling at Jesus’ feet and trusting in His forgiveness, power, and strength, Judas chose to seek an early exit. While there was remorse, there was no repentance.

Compare that with Peter’s response. Just as devastated as Judas, Peter, recognizing the incredible betrayal he had participated in, left and “wept bitterly.” While there was intense conviction and remorse, we see Peter display some hope by not taking the path of Judas. How many times did Peter declare with total conviction and passion his belief and confidence in Jesus? He walked on water, saw his mother healed, was chosen to be the disciple upon whom the church would be built, witnessed the transfiguration, and proclaimed one of my favorite quotes in all of Scripture, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Of course, he also had his moments of rebuke, being told by Jesus to “Get behind me, Satan!”, falling asleep while on watch as Jesus prayed, attacking the guards who came for Jesus, and the crushing blow: denial of his Savior. Peter experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He was passionate and impetuous. And he ultimately repented of his sin and became the rock upon which the church was built.

Judas and Peter were not perfect. And neither are we. Thankfully, we find in the resurrection of Jesus a way for imperfect people to have a relationship with a perfect God when we place our faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection.

Without Easter, Judas and Peter are no different. Without Easter, we have no hope. Without Easter, we are to be pitied above all people. But Sunday comes and there is an empty tomb. And because that tomb is empty, we walk confidently in the efficacy of the cross and the freedom from our sins that it brings.

Easter changed everything.

I pray you and your family enjoy your Easter weekend and find hope and joy in the path made possible by the incredible act of love of our Savior.

Happy Easter.

In Christ,

Matthew H. Skinner