Is It I?
Have you ever been accused of being a traitor? Have you ever thought it possible for you to betray anyone? In Mark 14:17-21, Jesus pointedly tells all his apostles as they were gathered to eat the Passover, “Verily I say unto you, One of you shall betray me, even he that is eating with me.” How could Jesus think such a thing? Why would any of the apostles, who had committed to leave all to come follow him, turn their back on the Christ of God?
Besides the shock running through the minds of the apostles from Jesus’ words, the statement is intensified with the word “Truly” or “Surely.” This means, it will happen. This is certain. Then the pressure and suspense builds when Jesus says, “One of you shall betray me, even he that eateth with me...” The astonished look on the apostles’ faces soon turned inward to personally ask, “Is it I?” Then the apostles may have looked at one another to see if anyone looked guilty. Who looked uncomfortable?
Here is something to consider: Love believes all things (1 Corinthians 13:6,7). The apostles are not pointing fingers at one another saying, “I can’t believe you would do this!” “How could you think of such a thing?!” “You look suspicious.” These men believed in one another. They could not come up with the name of any other apostle they believed was guilty. They could not picture anyone in their group would do such. That is the same thing we should believe about brethren in the church, our spouse, or our children. When an accusation is made, do we always have in mind who we think is guilty, or do we always thing the best of one another? It is possible I would place guilt on any of my brethren, my spouse, or my children. Where is our confidence in one another?
Later in this text (vv. 27-31), all the apostles deny the possibility of being offended in Christ. They all believe they will stand up, not against Christ. Others may deny Jesus or oppose him, but none of them believe they will. Being known as “being offended” is not something a person wants on their resumé. It is the last thing they believe they would ever do. It is not possible. I cannot. I will not. Let us do what Jesus asked his disciples to do to prevent such from happening - PRAY (vv. 33-38).
In spite of the shock which overwhelmed the apostles, there is something they - and we - should believe about Jesus. Christ always makes a very accurate assessment as to who we are. It troubles the hearts of the apostles to believe any of them will betray Jesus. It was not too long before this in Mark 3:5 that Jesus “looked around about on them (Pharisees) with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their heart...” Our Lord knew the conditions of their hearts. He knew what they would do. It appears as though they understood this, because none of them question his evaluation. They do understand the personal implication of what Jesus knows with their question, “Is it I?”
We need to believe him against our own beliefs of ourselves. The truth is, we are all capable of turning away from and turning on our Lord, no matter what we believe about ourselves. This is why we have passages like 1 Corinthians 10:12, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and James 1:22-24. The words “take heed to yourself,” “try yourself,” and “beholdeth himself” call for personal examination. Look to see if you would do this. It does not matter how long you have been a Christian. It does not matter if you are an elder, deacon, preacher, or teacher. There have been people who have walked with the Lord for years who could still betray Jesus. If any of these twelve followers of Jesus would, could and did become offended in Christ, WHO AM I to say I will not be next?
There is someone who really needs us and our fellowship, but do we go to sleep on them? We tell them, “You can count on me. Call me if you need something - anytime, day or night.” We know we should be there for them, but we find excuses for needing to be elsewhere, or the situation is too demanding. Our relationships with God are very similar. The hardest lesson for the apostles - and us - is the simple fact that only a friend can betray someone. An enemy is expected to forsake us. Friends are not intending to turn against us. If we ask them, if they would turn away, they would say, “How could you think of such a thing? It’s impossible. We’ve been friends so long.” Under the same circumstances as the apostles, it is possible I would have acted the same way. The more sobering thought is, the Lord knows it before I do.
Notice this: What Jesus knows does not stop him from eating the Passover with the apostles. He does not run them out of the room. He is not embarrassed in their presence. Our Lord walked with them to Gethsemane after the Passover. Three of them fell asleep a distance away while he was praying in the garden. He does not walk away from them in disappointment. He says, “Rise, let us go.” Jesus did not abandon them prior to them failing him. He is praying they will not yield to temptation. He wants them to succeed. What I need to cling to today is a Lord who invites me to a table, the Lord’s Supper table, and desires from me to eat with him there every Sunday no matter what I have done or left undone.
God’s grace will never fail (Hebrews 13:5). Every Christian needs the courage to stand in his/her faith to never fail the Father. He wants us as a part of his mission. He wants us to be satisfied with him and find completeness in him. He does not want us to betray anyone, especially him. There is no reason to fear, but every reason in eternity to endure. Hold to the hand of the greatest friend anyone could ever have - Jesus. Are you the one who will? “Is it I?”