CONTRASTING THE CHARACTERS OF PETER AND JUDAS
By David J. Riggs
A. We want to make a character study of two well-known men in the
1. One is known as a very great disciple of the Lord, the other
as a very evil man.
2. Yet, when we compare the lives of the two men, we find that
they had many things alike.
a. They had many parallel opportunities and
b. In spite of this, they were entirely different in the
outcome or end of their lives.
B. Perhaps you have already guessed their names--they are: Peter
and Judas Iscariot.
I. THEY BOTH HAD OPPORTUNITIES TO KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG.
A. At the feet of Jesus.
1. Acts 1:21-22
a. These were lofty qualifications, but both Peter and Judas
b. If we considered every hour they had under the
tutorship of Jesus, the greatest teacher that ever lived,
it would probably give more than the equivalent of a
Ph.D. degree in our time.
B. Beholding the miracles.
1. Matt. 9:35; 11:2-5
a. The purpose of the miracles -- John 20:30-31
2. Also, the twelve, Judas included, were given power to work
miracles. Matt. 10:5-8
3. At the judgment, Judas could truly say -- Matt. 7:22
C. Thus, Peter and Judas had the same opportunities.
II. THEY BOTH MADE MISTAKES.
A. Let us note some of the mistakes of Peter.
1. On the Mount of Transfiguration he became an advocate of
Denominationalism when he said, "Let us make three
tabernacles..." Matt. 17:4; Mark 9:5-6
a. This mistake was answered from heaven - Matt. 17:5
2. As Jesus prophesied of His crucifixion -- Matt. 16:22
a. Jesus answered, Matt. 16:23
3. Perhaps you can think of many other mistakes that Peter
a. He was wrong on the question of forgiveness. Matt.
b. He drew his sword and cut off the right ear of Malcus.
c. Paul had to withstand Peter to the face regarding his
treatment of the Gentiles. Gal. 2:11-12
d. He failed to walk upon the water due to fear and doubt.
e. And the crowning mistake of all, he denied the Lord
three times. Matt. 26:69-75
B. Let's look at the mistakes of Judas.
1. Judas stole from the money bag of the disciples. John 12:3-6
a. No doubt this was only small amounts; otherwise, the
disciples would have noticed it.
b. Sometimes we, like Judas, take no account of "little
sins." They are so small; they appear so insignificant.
c. However, they soon blossom into a trap that destroys us
just as it did Judas.
2. Judas saw a way to make some fast easy money. Matt.
a. He probably thought, "I'll point him out to them, but
they won't be able to take him. After all, he had escaped
them many times before."
C. Peter and Judas were equally guilty.
1. It is not "he who sins," but "what we do with our sins" that
counts. Do we repent and change?
2. In secular history, when we read of the great achievements
of successful people, we are seldom told about their
a. For example, we read of the amazing record of Babe
Ruth, a total of 851 home runs. But there is another
record that is buried and never mentioned. Babe Ruth
struck out more than any other man in history -- 1,300
times. Thus, 1,300 times he suffered the humiliation of
walking back to the dugout, but he never allowed failure
to slow him down or weaken his effort.
b. Here's another example: A young man ran for the
legislature in Illinois, and was badly defeated. He then
entered business and failed and spent 17 years of his
life paying up the debts. He was in love with a beautiful
young woman to whom he became engaged--then she
died. He re-entered politics, ran for congress, and was
badly defeated. He then tried to get an appointment to
the U.S. Land Office, but failed. He became a candidate
for the U.S. Senate and was badly defeated. Two years
later he was defeated by Douglas. One failure after
another, bad failures, great setbacks, but in the face of
all this he kept on trying and became one of the greatest
men in history. His name was Abraham Lincoln.
III. THEY WERE BOTH WARNED.
A. Matt. 26:21-25
B. Luke 22:31-34
C. We would like to say, "How can these men be so dumb--after
Jesus said it would happen, and they went on and did it?"
1. However, how many head his warnings today? Luke 21:34-
IV. THEY BOTH WERE REMORSEFUL BECAUSE OF THEIR SINS.
A. Matt. 27:1-5
1. One strong lesson here is, "just being sorry for one's sins
is not enough." 2 Cor. 7:10
a. Many are not sorry for their sins, they are only sorry
that they got caught.
b. This kind of sorrow does not produce a change of heart
and life. It merely makes the sinner more cunning--
careful not to get caught next time.
2. Judas became a coward by taking his own life. Suicide is
truly the unpardonable sin.
a. He should have stood his ground and tried to make
amends. Many, instead of confessing, try to hide or
excuse their sins.
b. I have heard "public confessions" that were no
confessions at all. A brother had been caught in
something he's said or done, and he gets up and tries to
explain it all away as a big misunderstanding. He does
not say, "I have sinned." See Prov. 28:13; Luke 18:13
B. Matt. 26:75
1. Herein is where we find the vast difference between these
two men. They had many similarities, but there's one great
difference. Peter was sorry enough for his sins to turn from
2. There is nothing in the Scripture which gives the least ray
of hope for Judas.
a. As a matter of fact, Jesus said, "It was better for him
not to have been born." Also, Acts 1:18-20, 25
3. However, Peter went on to be a great disciple of the Lord.
a. He preached the first gospel sermon wherein 3,000 were
b. He worked great miracles including raising Dorcas from
c. He was the first to open the way for the Gentiles.
d. By inspiration, he left two marvelous epistles.
e. He died as a martyr. 2 Pet. 1:13-14; John 21:18-19
A. What a difference in the destiny of these two men!
1. They had many thing that were similar.
a. They heard the same teaching from Jesus; they saw the
b. They were warned; they made mistakes; they were
guilty; they had remorse.
B. Regardless of this, Peter was saved; Judas was lost.
1. The answer to this complexity is simple. Peter turned to
God. Judas attempted his own way.
2. God is looking today for more good people like Peter. Will
you turn to God? Acts 3:19; 26:19-20