Summary: It is startling that even the eleven true disciples asked the question: "Surely not I, Lord?"
A SOUL-SEARCHING QUESTION
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." Matthew 26:20-25 (NASB)
I. A STARTLING FACT:
It is almost inconceivable that any one of the disciples could have betrayed Jesus having seen the miracles He performed and the message He preached demonstrating His Messiahship. Yet each of them raised the question: "Surely not I, Lord?"
II. A DEEP CONCERN: “being deeply grieved”.
Eleven of the disciples were deeply grieved at the prospect. To them it meant more than losing a Friend, it meant the loss of everything dear to themselves. They had left all and followed Him.
III. A STARTLING ADMISSION:
“Surely not I, Lord?” Every one of His disciples confessed the possibility that they might betray their Lord!
What possible circumstance could cause His disciples to betray Him? It probably was their fear of what evil-doers could do to them. The disciples were certainly afraid of the Jews, particularly the Jewish leaders, as was evidenced by the fact that only John stood with His mother and the other women at the cross. We find further evidence of this in John 20:19, Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." (NKJV)
What might cause His disciples to betray or forsake Him today? Perhaps:
1. Worldly wealth: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26 (NKJV)
2. Worldly pleasure: “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world...” 2 Timothy 4:10
3. Worldly popularity or approval: “So Pilate, anxious to please the crowd, released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged and then turned him over to the soldiers to crucify him.” Mark 15:15 (NLT)
John admonishes us thusly: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV)
IV. AN INEFFECTIVE “COVER-UP”
“And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself." Matthew 26:25 (NASB) An important note: The eleven disciples referred to Jesus as “Lord (kurios)” while Judas used the term “Master (rabbi)” The important significance between the two titles is that “Rabbi,” (Master or Teacher) is a term of respect whereas “kurios, or Lord” was one of worship or adoration.
Paul give us an insight as to how the terms of address tell us so much about Judas, on the one hand, and all the other disciples on the other. “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” I Corinthians 12:3 (NKJV)
The response of Jesus to Judas’ query made it very clear to him that his pretense and hypocrisy had failed to cover his great iniquity. Jesus straightforwardly replied, “You have said it yourself.” Jesus saw right through the hypocrisy of Judas then, as today and always, He sees into the heart of every man.
The Bible gives us good advice when it says, “But let a man examine him-self, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:28 (NKJV). A spiritual “heart examination” must be done by the person himself. We cannot discern or judge another man’s heart. Many times a person’s actions betray what is in their heart. Let us be honest in our self-examination, asking ourselves, if in our heart, we call Him “Lord” or “Master”; whether we love Him or whether we love the world and the things of the world?