Sometimes, my quiet time thoughts stay with me for several days, and occasionally they have an even greater impact on my total view of the Christian life. This post addresses one such quiet time passage.
In Matthew 26:20-25 (NASB), we read:
Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.”
Here’s my thoughts. When Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him, each of them asked them if it was he that would do such a thing. They were all, according to the text, “deeply grieved.” That included the response of Judas, who was also sitting at the table, and would be pointed out as the one who would betray him.
I notice one significant difference between Judas’ response and that of the other disciples. Each disciple is recorded as using the title “Lord” when asking the question, except for Judas. He used the title “Rabbi.” Why did John the Evangelist include this difference in his Gospel?
There are many times in the Gospels that Jesus is called “Rabbi.” It was considered a term of respect for someone who was a significant teacher. Jesus acknowledged the weight of the term in Matthew 23:6-8 when he instructed the crowds in Jerusalem.
My thoughts turned toward the difference between “Rabbi” and “Lord.” When a person submits to a Rabbi, he submits to learning and following the Rabbi’s teaching. We may even learn everything we can from one Rabbi and move on to another to learn more. Often those who excel at a Rabbi’s teaching can even become a Rabbi themselves.
We can also submit to following a “Lord.” At what time do we follow a Lord so well that we become one ourselves? If someone is Lord, can we ever get to the place where should move on to another Lord?
Many people see Jesus as a significant teacher, perhaps one of the best in history. Yet they have little commitment to followng the hard sayings of a Rabbi when his teachings touches on our character or conflicts with our comfort. This accounts for why some “disciples” heard the word of Jesus and said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60) and they stopped following Jesus and went on about their lives (John 6:66).
Judas seems to have made the mistake of viewing Jesus only as a teacher instead of the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). Judas may have very well nodded his head in agreement when Peter proclaimed Jesus was the Son of God, but his words and actions later revealed what he really thought about Jesus. He was simply a teacher to follow long enough to get what he wanted out of life.
Who is Jesus to you? Lord or Rabbi?