I just came back from the Good Friday service at my church. While I was listening to the preacher I noticed something new in Luke’s account of Jesus’ arrest that I had never seen before.
Here it is:
While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” [Luke 22:47-48]
At that fateful moment, when everything hung in the balance Jesus asked Judas a question. In essence what Jesus is asking here, is “are you really going to go through with this?” Up until that moment the salvation of Judas could have gone either way. I’m not saying that the end result would have been different if Judas changed his mind and jumped to Jesus’ defense, they were surrounded by Roman soldiers after all, the die had pretty much been cast. But as far as the fate Judas was concerned, that had not been decided yet.
A similar thing happened later with Peter. When Peter denied knowing Jesus he too was betraying his friend. [Luke 22:54-62]
Both men left those encounters in complete shame and abject sorrow. Judas never received another chance and hung himself. After the resurrection Peter was given another chance and took it. Would things have been different if Judas had stuck around to witness the resurrection too? We’ll never know. What we do know from this story is this; God is always willing to give you “one last chance”.
We see it elsewhere in scripture too. Cain, King Saul, King David, the other Saul (the one who became Paul) even Pharaoh were given multiple opportunities to recant and chose God. Those who did were forgiven and went on to achieve great things. Their failings were completely forgotten. For those who didn’t, God eventually left them alone, to tragic ends.
God didn’t leave them alone in the sense that he stopped loving them. For God to stop loving any part of his creation is an oxymoron – God IS Love. No, on the contrary God loved them so much that he released them to their own desires, even though he knew where that would lead.
The fact is the door is always open; we always have “one last chance” to come home, if we would only choose to. That’s what the story of the prodigal son is all about.
Will there come a day when we run out of chances? I hope sure hope not. In fact I like to think that even in death God will still be there, offering us the opportunity to join him. But that’s just my opinion.
The point is this – when God gives you “one last chance” please take it. He already conquered death for you don’t make him do it again.