As Jesus gathered with the Twelve in the large upper room which was ‘furnished and ready’ he challenged them with a statement of truth. ‘While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me–one who is eating with me.’
Jesus had faced opposition throughout his years of ministry with them. His own family had come with a concern for his mental health (Mark 3:21). Opponents had accused him of demonic possession (Mark 3:22) and the fluctuation between popularity and hostility had been evident. But now, the sin issue to be addressed was not external but internal. Within the band of his closest followers, individuals had mixed motives. Judas was now ‘watching for an opportunity to hand him over.’ James and John, the Sons of Thunder, appear impulsive, ready to express erratic behaviour with little prompting.
As Jesus spoke the truth to the group, each individual questioned their own faithfulness. Though Peter will be singled out in the subsequent hours, all face their own possibility of sinful choice.
Isn’t this God’s design for self-examination? Doesn’t every single one of us who profess to be Christ followers, need to be willing to admit the feebleness of our faith? Sure, we may sing – “All to Jesus I surrender….” but is this really the way we live. Yes we mouth the words, ‘Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love, Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above…’ but are we broken over this ‘proneness?’
How did the disciples respond to this ‘truth statement’ spoken by Jesus? ‘They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”
“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Of all the sins to be accused of committing, surely betrayal of Jesus Christ ranks near the top of the list. One of the Twelve would BETRAY him, another would DENY him, and Mark 14:50 would be written into the biography of the group – “Then everyone deserted him and fled.”
Why do we allow time for serious self-examination as part of our preparation for the Lord’s Supper? Because we need it. God knows our hearts and offers us restoration, forgiveness, mercy as we own up to our willful actions. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Let’s listen carefully to the truth as Christ speaks it into our hearts. Let’s line up with his verdict, his honest assessment of where we actually stand before our God. Then having confessed our sin, let’s joyfully remind each other of the good news, “Christ receives sinful men.” Truly we may “sing this o’er and o’er again.” The God who searches me is the God who saves me! Blessed be the name of the LORD!