As you go into the city,” he told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus told them and prepared the Passover meal there.
20 When it was evening, Jesus sat down at the table[c] with the Twelve.21 While they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”
22 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one, Lord?”
23 He replied, “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with me will betray me. 24 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!” (From Matthew 26)
There are five words in this passage that for me slow this whole thing down. It is easy to rush headlong into the ‘reasons why Judas betrayed Jesus’ or How did Jesus deal with the betrayal. Skip on the detail and head straight to Good Friday.
But when it was still evening, Jesus sat down at the table with the disciples (they were already at the table). While they were eating (so all seemed ok, normal even?) Then the next but should read; Jesus said ; ‘I tell you the truth one of you will betray me’
Peter asked ‘ Am I the one Lord? Fairly confident that it really couldnt be,
then Andrew (Peter’s brother) asked the same
James (son of Zebedee) said surely not I Lord, but is it me?
John (James’s brother) agreed but asked just in case
Philip asked Am I the one, Lord?
Bartholomew asked Am I the one Lord?
Thomas doubted whether it could be him checking his own evidence, but said is it I Lord?
Matthew (the tax collector) asked Jesus if it was him – though he thought he got the accounts right
James (son of Alphaeus) thought hed check all the same- Am I the one Lord?
Thaddaeus asked too
4 Simon (the zealot[c]) made up the eleven confused, distressed disciples who all asked, hoping for a moment that it wasnt them, but not entirely convinces- and he asked the same- Am I the one Lord? he asked- like all the ten before him.
Imagine going around the table. One. by One. Each asking. Each not knowing what the response might be. Each awaiting some kind of response. Did Jesus reply to each one, or wait for them all the ask. Think how slow and painful this scene is when you imagine all 12 of the disciples, in turn – (what turn?) asking Jesus the same question – Am I the one Lord?
Their meal started to taste bitter, cardboard, empty, uncomfortable, nauseating, anxious. I imagine. Potential guilt upon potential guilt. It feels an ordeal just writing all this out. 12 distressed men one by one awaiting the verdict of Jesus.
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him) then asked – was he last to speak up? cowering in the corner? Last just because of how they sat. Starting to sweat, starting realise his game was up.
Am I the one Lord?
Jesus said to him – ‘You have said it’
But I do not condemn you, says Jesus – Judas will have condemned himself. The others would still not to know completely what that betrayal may have meant, for each themselves had also ‘not been perfect’ in their lives, and each could feasibly think of themselves as potential betrayers.
I had not noticed or realised what it might have been like for each of the disciples to ask in turn that same question. How slow in time it might have took.
It is only 5 words, each one asked in turn. But reflect a moment on every individual disciple asking the question. The drama of the question being asked around the table.
The other 11 hoping it wasn’t them but not sure. No one was sure. But each asked and each asked for themselves, knowing that drama was also around the corner.
Thank you to John Ristway for the picture given to me 10 months ago.