Peter also betrayed Jesus. We call it denying, but the only difference between Peter and Judas is that Judas was an active betrayer (yes, this is the man) while Peter's betrayal was more passive (no, I'm not with him).
Peter is portrayed through the gospel tale as a staunchly loyal, albeit often confused and impetuous, follower of Jesus. The fisherman had found his identity, his meaning in life, thorough his identification with Jesus. Even in his rash moments Peter is simply trying desperately to please Jesus, to be a worthy part of Jesus' inner circle.
But then, in the final months, Jesus refused to play the part of the hero leading his followers into a new era.
Instead, he washes feet. Peter argues with Jesus.
Jesus continually talks about leaving, even about dying. Peter takes him aside to talk some sense into him.
Jesus responds to being arrested with humility, turning the other cheek. Peter aims for the other cheek and lops the ear off one of the soldiers.
And then the Lord says to put the swords down. And he lets the soldiers take him away.
Peter runs, along with the rest of the disciples.
But, like John, his counterpart in the inner circle, Peter returns and hangs around the edges of what's going on that night.
Everything Peter has built his life around since the day those fish broke his nets, his entire reason for life, is falling apart. The only way he can stay close by Jesus at this point would be to surrender himself to the soldiers.
But Peter decides he's not willing to jump over the cliff with Jesus. That's not what's supposed to happen next.
Lead me into battle, lead me into #OccupyTemple, lead me wandering around the countryside for another three years of teaching and miracles. But I need you to lead me. I'm nothing without being your wing man.
Peter and Judas weren't that different. Each had his own self-centered idea of what it meant to follow Jesus. Each turned his back when Jesus insisted on a different way.
It makes me wonder: Why am I following Jesus? Because of the benefits I can skim off on the side? Because of how great it makes me feel to be part of something?
What happens when you're getting nothing extra out of the deal? What happens when the church or its leaders fail you?
Will you stick with Jesus? Will you continue to follow him no matter what unexpected turns he leads you through?
Or will you leave a tip in the tray as it goes past and then go on about your way?