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Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

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Good Friday wasn’t so good for Judas. The guilt-ridden betrayer of Jesus hung himself and then fell headlong, spilling his innards. Hence, the residents later named the place where it happened, “Akeldema,” or “Field of Blood” (Acts 1:18-19).

Judas may have chosen this place to die for a specific reason.

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Today, the peaceful Monastery of St. Onuphrius at Akeldema offers no clue to the fact that Judas killed himself at that site—nor does it reveal the Hinnom Valley’s sordid history.

  • Horrific atrocities occurred in the Hinnom Valley during the days of Judah’s kings (2 Chronicles 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31).
  • In Jesus’ day, the city dump lay in this gorge. Some suggest that fires continually burned the trash, and so Jesus used the smoldering landfill of Gehenna as an illustration of hell’s eternal flames (Mark 9:43).

Because Jesus compared the Hinnom Valley to hell, one has to wonder if this is the reason Judas’s desperate regret led him to end his life in this ravine.

Like Judas, you have failed. But Judas’ shame doesn’t have to be yours.

Good Friday gives your shame a choice.

Peter shows us why.

The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

The best place to view Akeldema is from the balcony at the southeast corner of the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. Not only does the location give a great view, but it also offers a great lesson.

On the same Good Friday that Judas’ shame took his life, Peter committed a sin just as wrong as Judas did.

Statue of Peter denying Christ, St. Peter in Gallicantu Church,

(Photo: Statue of Peter denying Christ, Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Peter denied Christ.

  • Traditionally, Peter’s denial occurred at the site of the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu—just across the valley from Akeldema.
  • The church’s name means “rooster crowing.” How’d you like to have a church named after your sin?
  • If the location for this tradition is accurate, it’s ironic. Peter denied Jesus about only 1000 feet east of the Upper Room where Jesus predicted he would (Matthew 26:75).

Two Kinds of Shame and Sorrow

Judas’ shame led him to his own death. But Peter’s regret just resulted in a good cry (and a changed life).

What made the difference?

Like these two disciples, as we come face to face with the raw truth of our carnal hearts, our shame and guilt will lead us in one of two directions. As Paul wrote:

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. —2 Corinthians 7:10

Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema

(Photo: Monastery of St Onuphrius, traditional Akeldema, courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Good Friday Gives Your Shame a Choice

While Judas’s sorrow led him to a needless, desperate act—bowing to sin’s penalty— Peter’s sorrow led him to grace . . . to seeking sin’s remedy.

Good Friday gives us two choices: sin’s penalty in death or sin’s remedy in grace. (Tweet that.)

If we’re honest, the only difference between these two disciples was that Peter responded to the grace Good Friday offered. Jesus Christ died to pay for our sins.

Yes, you failed.

But God intends the pangs of your shame to lead you away from your guilt and toward His grace. For although sin leads us down into the Hinnom Valley, Jesus offers us the path back out—up to Calvary.

With our sins forgiven, we then have no reason to feel shame but every reason to embrace the new life Jesus offers.

Tell me what you think: Do you think Judas could have been forgiven if he chose to be? To leave a comment, just click here.

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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus: A Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ.

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