A short time later, those standing nearby approached Peter and said, “We know your one of his disciples-we can tell by your speech. Your Galilean accent gives you away!” Peter denied it, and using profanity, he said, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment, the sound of a rooster crowing pierced the night. Then Peter remembered the prophecy of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will have denied me three times.”

With a shattered heart, Peter went out of the courtyard sobbing with bitter tears.

Matthew 26:73-75 (TPT)

Now when Judas, the betrayer, saw that Jesus had been sentenced to death, remorse filled his heart. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and religious leaders, saying, “I have sinned because I have betrayed an innocent man.”

They replied,”Why are you bothering us? That’s your problem.”

Then Judas flung the silver coins inside the temple and went out and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:3-5 (TPT)

I cannot help but contrast these two passages. My heart is grieved for both men. I have been Peter, denying Jesus. I have been Judas, betraying Jesus. There is horror in both.

Peter, with a shattered heart, sobbed bitterly. He allowed his heart to feel the depth of the denial.

Judas was filled with remorse. He tried to undo his betrayal. But he couldn’t. The realization of impending hopelessness may have sent him to the noose on the tree.

There is no more mention of Peter in the book of Matthew. But we know that Peter was restored to Jesus and went on to be powerful for good.

Then Jesus came close to them and served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus manifested to his disciples after his resurrection.

After they had breakfast, Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me more than these?”

Peter answered, “Yes, Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my lambs,” Jesus said. Jesus repeated his question the second time, “Simon, son of John, do you burn with love for me?” Peter answered, “Yes, my Lord! You know that I have great affection for you!”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. Then Jesus asked him again, “Peter, son of John, do you have great affection for me?”

Peter was saddened by being asked the third time and said, “My Lord, you know everything. You know that I burn with love for you!”

Jesus replied, “Then feed my lambs!

John 21:1-25 (TPT)

There were many days in between Peters denial and this passage. Days for Peter to live in and feel the pain of his denial. 

Judas robbed himself of feeling his days of remorse. I feel sad considering that. Pain is at once horrible and wonderful. Pain proves we are alive.

It is no coincidence that Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Jesus allowed Peter to state his love three times. He looked into Jesus’ eyes and declared his love. Those three denials melted away, replaced by love.

Denial replaced by love, for the good of the gospel. And for the heart of Peter.
I wonder, could there be a hint of how to walk through our dark deeds in this contrast of Judas and Peter? If we feel and acknowledge the pain of harming ourselves and others, can we be set up for restoration and go on to be powerful for good?

Or in contrast, if we try to pay penance to undo our wrong without walking through pain, will we be required to kill those parts of us in order to continue living with them?