When the associate minister of the church I attend asked if I would like to write an article on support and recovery groups, two of Jesus' disciple's came to mind: Judas and Peter. Each experienced significant brokenness as a result of failure, however, each received a very different reaction from their small group.
First let's consider Judas who betrayed Jesus. We find this account in Matthew 27:3-5: "When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.' 'What is that to us?' they replied. 'That's your responsibility.' So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself." (NIV)
When Judas learned that Jesus was condemned, he became full of remorse so he turned to his newly found small group that he had been meeting with—the chief priests and elders—and confessed his sin for betraying innocent blood. All the chief priests and elders could say is that's your problem.
When Judas needed a loving arm around him and comforting words spoken to him, the small group told him to get lost, we have our own needs to attend to. Why he didn't go to Jesus' disciples we don't know. Maybe he felt that after what he had done they wouldn't want to see him, or maybe he was to ashamed to go to them. All we know is that in a time of need he was turned away and that he hanged himself.
Next, consider Peter, who betrayed Jesus by denying Him three times. We find this in John 20:1-2. "Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!' " (NIV)
Here we see that Peter was with at least one of the disciples, John, and was talking to him. Also Mary Magdalene knew where he was, so Peter was being counseled by his friends.
Then in John 21:15-19 we read: "When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.' Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, 'Follow me!' " (NIV)
We now see the Master Counselor Jesus Christ at work in Peter's life. Jesus took time out to talk to Peter before going to the Father. Three times Peter denied Jesus and three times Jesus asked Peter if he Loved Him. Jesus demonstrated loving support and also accountability in Peter's journey through recovery and reconciliation.
So how should the church or your small group respond to unwed mothers, people who have been involved in abortion, or people dealing with a sexual addiction or an addiction of any kind? Should we take a hands-off approach like the chief priests and elders treated Judas, or should we treat them with the love and care the disciples and Jesus showed Peter? The results of making the choice to show God's love in active ways can make all the difference.