And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say to him, Lord, is it I?
This is one of the saddest scenes in the life of the Man of sorrows. Leonardo diVinci has commemorated it pictorially, although his famous fresco is fast fading from the walls of the refectory of the monastery at Milan. Familiar copies of this wonderful picture must have impressed the scene upon all our memories. It is alive with heart searching lessons for all time.
I. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST TO BETRAY HIS MASTER. We might have thought that the spell of Christ's presence would have effectually prevented such a fall. That there should be a Judas in the college of the apostles is a startling fact.
1. Jesus does not hold any by force. This is not a case for considering the scope of omnipotence. Here we trench on the awful region of the human will. God does not override that mysterious power. If he did, he would destroy the man himself; he would crush the personality in which alone true service can be rendered to God.
2. It is possible to know much of Christ, and yet to escape from his influence. Judas appears to have been a man of great intelligence. He had heard the wonderful teachings of One who "spake as never man spake," yet they had made no final impression on his character. We are not saved by our knowledge of Christ. We may be disciples without being Christians; scholars in the school of Jesus, and yet not saints in his household.
II. NO CHRISTIAN CAN BE SURE THAT HE WILL NEVER BETRAY HIS MASTER. It is pathetic to see these humble men each putting the anxious question, "Is it I, Lord?" But the very utterance of the question suggests the wisdom of those who breathed it. We do not know ourselves. There are volcanic depths which may reveal themselves in sudden explosions, fires that slumber far beneath the green fields and the flowery gardens. The rose and the lily bloom on the surface; but who shall say what will happen when the eruption takes place? No one has fathomed the depth of the hidden possibilities of evil in his own heart; and no one can tell what force of temptations he will be called upon to face. For aught we know, any one of us might become a Judas.
III. THE ONLY SECURITY AGAINST BETRAYING CHRIST IS TO BE FOUND IN A HUMBLE TRUST IN HIS GRACE. The disciples acted wisely in uttering their anxious question This was the best way to get a negative answer. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall." The very fear of falling will be a help against falling, by inducing a spirit of watchfulness.
1. We need to be on our guard against unfaithfulness The danger comes when it is least expected. He who is anxious lest he shall betray his Master will be the first to detect the temptation that points the way of treason.
2. Christ can keep his people faithful. We are not left to be the victims of chance, nor are we entirely committed to the charge of our own wayward wills. Christ will not keep any from falling by force, apart from the concurrence of their own will. But he can and he does preserve those who seek his grace and trust his aid. He is able to keep such from falling (Jude 1:24). - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?