There was Pilate.Even though he was given numerous opportunities to free Jesus, he failed to use his power for good. When guilt washed over him, he washed his hands, He appeased his conscience, not wanting to do right, yet not wanting to accept blame for the crimes he committed against God.
Then, there was Peter. Always right in his own eyes, loudly proclaiming his friendship and failing miserably when Jesus needed him most. He'd tried to save himself, and anytime there is an attempt to save "self," it is at the cost of spiritual loss. The result of the subsequent guilt? Slinking away into the corner to hide.
"The beloved disciple" also knew the sting of guilt. He stood at the foot of the cross and rehashed the moments he slept in the Garden, his race down the mountain, the foolishness of plotting for a head position in the future Kingdom while ignoring the Servant Christ with the foot basin. He was glad for the chance to try to do better, eager to take home the mother of the dying, all the while staring and the mangled body on the rough-hewn beams and knowing he could never undo the suffering.
Judas' response to guilt? Remorse. Action. Attempting to make amends. Suicide when things didn't go as planned.
And there was the thief. Perhaps he experienced a sense of relief at getting his due reward. Regardless, he felt the guilt and remorse of crimes committed and the pain of debt to pay. But more than that, he saw the grace Jesus extended and accepted that gift.
Like those whose lives were interwoven with Jesus' death, we, too, come face to face with Jesus and His cross. When we do, we see most clearly the wrongs we have done. When the lights shine glaringly upon our failures, the guilt surfaces, and remorse settles where victory should have been. But we have choices as to how we handle that guilt. We can attempt to assuage the sting by passing blame and rejecting responsibility. We can hide in shame, smothering with regrets. We can attempt to pick up the pieces and learn from our mistakes. We can muster our strength to undo what has been done and fold under the pressure of our inability to control what we've set in motion. Or we can recognize the grace that's being extended,We can behold the love and forgiveness flowing from the heart strung between outstretched arms.
Like Pilate, we can't wash away the evidence of our wrong with blame. Like Peter, we can't outrun the shame. Like John, we can't do enough good to undo our mistakes. And like Judas, we can't escape it by taking matters into our own hands. The only antidote to guilt is the cross. Only at the cross can our sins be removed, can the penalty we exacted to pay for wrongs done, and can freedom be exchanged for the condemnation associated with the crimes against holiness we have committed. it's at the cross Jesus dealt with the guilt of our sin issues, and it's at the cross we can deal with them, too.
Tip/Tidbit: Mistakes cannot be undone, but they can be forgiven. Let Jesus wipe the slate clean in your heart and mind.