Judas, what would your story be if you hadn’t hung yourself on that tree?

You were selected to be one of His twelve. You witnessed firsthand the lame walk, blind see, deaf hear, the tormented set free… and the dead rise again. You sat at His feet and heard a message that gave Hope to the lost, comfort to the grieving and salvation to the oppressed.

You smelled the sweet aroma that filled the room with fragrant perfume, as Mary poured oil on His feet…

Yet you grumbled and said:
“Shouldn’t this costly oil be sold for the poor?”

You let the evil one speak to your heart to betray Him… and for 30 pieces of silver you forsook the Son of God with a kiss.

Then you watched the mob take Him away, you watched them beat Him, whip Him, spit on Him, mock Him and crucify Him.

You begged for the Chief Priests to take their silver back, but they wouldn’t. So you let shame become so great that you ended it all with a noose.

But Judas, what would your story have been if you didn’t let shame win?

Didn’t you know Peter also betrayed Jesus that same night. He denied knowing Him three times? Jesus turned and looked at Peter, as he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” right as the rooster crowed.

But Judas, you didn’t get to see that Peter saw Jesus again, risen from the grave. It was then, three times, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Peter cried out, “Yes Lord, I love you” once, “Yes Lord, I love you.” twice, and a third, “Yes, Lord, I love you.”

Redemption… Grace given to Peter from the One whom he had betrayed. Then three times Jesus called Peter to feed his sheep.

Peter’s story did not end with his shame. For out of the eleven that remained, He was the first to proclaim that the One they crucified had risen again.

Jesus said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church.”

Judas, you didn’t see Saul become Paul. A man who hunted, persecuted and even murdered Christians. Yet the moment that Jesus revealed Himself to Saul, his name changed, his heart changed and Paul threw down his sword and declared to all that Jesus is the Son of God. From persecutor to Apostle. Grace and redemption was given again.

They had betrayed God, they had fallen, been broken, blind, afraid… yet God forgave, and God redeemed. And through them God built His church.

That message they began 1,985 years ago, now inhabits the largest number of people in the world who call that message their faith…

Judas, you could have been part, but you let shame take the last word and now your legacy is told… but I wonder what your story could have been…. Can you imagine the power… if you, who betrayed Jesus, turned to champion of His Word?

Judas, you have taught me something profound, you taught me to never let shame win. No matter how great my failure may be.

See Judas, I too know shame. I know its whisper, I know its hiss. But unlike you, I will not rule myself out, but proclaim who I am in Christ. Because redemption is a far greater story than any word- spoken by shame…

And as I sit here broken, I will say to shame, “meet my Grace.”

-written by Andrea Casteel Smith, author of “Scarred Beautiful “